2001 Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation

Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal explores the global influence of the American fast food industry. It first appeared in serialised form in Rolling Stone magazine and was later made into a film. In 2012 a new edition appeared with an ‘afterword’ commenting on other issues such as the increased interest in organic food and the exploitation of poor workers in the food industry.

The Amazon blurb for the current edition of the book says:

In 2001, Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.

In a new afterword for this edition, Schlosser discusses the growing interest in local and organic food, the continued exploitation of poor workers by the food industry, and the need to ensure that every American has access to good, healthy, affordable food. Fast Food Nation is as relevant today as it was a decade ago. The book inspires readers to look beneath the surface of our food system, consider its impact on society and, most of all, think for themselves.

The movie fictionalised the book, substituting “Mickey’s” for McDonald’s and “The Big One” for Big Mac. Critics were mixed in their reactions, one calling it an “angry and persuasive piece of agitprop” while another said, “This movie has taken a firebrand book and turned it into a whingeing piece of defeatism”.  Another said “‘Fast Food Nation’ might have translated into a compelling documentary. Instead, Schlosser’s research is used as a springboard into a sluggish fictional narrative that merely hints at the grim reality”. The upshot: read the book, skip the movie.

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