Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fast Food Nation

Title: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Author: Eric Schlosser
Publisher: Mariner Books
During high school I suffered from insomnia.  This was before the age of the internet, cell phones and even the luxury of a TV in my room.  So what you may ask did I do late at night to keep me entertained?  Well I listened to the radio.  At that time radio was fascinating and very entertaining.  There were shows about almost every subject imaginable, especially call-in shows.  But my favourite or the one’s I was dedicated to, were about relationships, wrestling (it used to be interesting), and conspiracy theories.  Conspiracy theories shows would blow my mind every time, because it made me feel like; ‘wow now I know the truth and everyone is just a sheep’.  Later on I grew bored of these shows because they didn’t let me enjoy life because I assumed I had to be secluded from the media in order not become a corporation drone.

As the years passed I took on the philosophy of living my life in the middle.  This meant that I would avoid anything in excess, and also anything that was very minimal.  This has made me a much happier person because I get to enjoy a little bit of everything in life.  So while I avoid the conspiracy theories, I still like to learn about the facts and history of our society.  One book that I recently read that revealed many hidden facts about the food industry is Fast Food Nation.  To me it reminded me of the first time I read the Wall Street Journal, and how it showed me how the financial world can effect so many other industries that I assumed were never connected.  The author of the book, Eric Schlosser is able to connect the fast food industry to corruption of politicians, the monopoly of American agriculture, lax safety regulations, obesity, and the proliferation of poverty in America (by creating a system of transient workers, that are underpaid and never taught skills in order to attain upward mobility).

I found the book to be an enjoyable read because Schlosser was able to produce a clear picture of the industry.  He described everything from the history of the industry, to how they are today, and even how it can be improved.  I also appreciated how he even travelled to places he made connections to (potato farms, slaughter houses, fast food restaurants, and New Jersey’s flavour corridors that are responsible for creating artificial flavours).  I wouldn’t say Schlosser gave an unbiased investigation of the industry, although he did try to meet with everyone involved in it (from company presidents to general labourers); but it just seems impossible to look at the facts and not see that there’s something wrong with the industry.  What I come away with after reading this book is that people are suffering because we as a society keep wanting the cheapest, fastest and most isolated form of human contact in order to buy our goods and services.  While I could drag on about what has to change, I would rather just say what I am doing to change things.  Change for me comes from just becoming a more concerned human being. From supporting political parties that protect employee rights, to recycling my garbage, and even being friendlier to people around me (kind and courteous).  It’s these small little details that make the world a better place.


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