Fast Food Nation

Chase, Eka, Savannah & Elizabeth

What Salient Points Does the Author Make?

  1. How the food has affected children’s lives/advertising to kids

  2. Teenagers in the fast food industry are highly underpaid and often work long hours, resulting in decreased health and quality of schooling.

    1. Corrupt Government control

    2. Franchisees

  3. Cattle/production industry

    1. Unhealthy and artificial food processes

    2. Poor working conditions

    3. E. Coli outbreaks

    4. Unsanitary conditions in meatpacking

  4. Effect of industry on the workers

    1. Cattle farmers condition.

    2. Underpaid, stressed, high suicide rates

    3. Injuries in the Fast Food industry

  5. Globalization

    1. Fast food chains are more popular in foreign countries than in America

    2. Wherever fast food chains go, obesity follows

  6. If we want change then change will happen, but we have to do SOMETHING

What Change/Lesson Does He Assert Need to be Made/Learned?

  1. Stop Advertising to Children

  2. Stop buying fast food, Boycott

  3. Pay closer attention to working conditions in slaughterhouses

  4. Improve workers rights for people in slaughterhouses

  5. Pay wages for Teenagers working in the Fast Food Industry

  6. Change Cattle Farmer conditions

Book Review

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the American Meal by Eric Schlosser is a modern muckraking book written to educate and inform readers on the current disastrous state of the fast food industry. The book investigates the global and local impacts of fast food chains and reveals the inhumane, and often illegal practices of the industry. Schlosser presents the reader with a call to action, urging the nation to take a stand against fast food industry and make a change. America is becoming a fast food nation, relying on the restaurants for food and employment. Fast Food Nation is a fantastic book that opens the reader’s eyes to the current conditions of the industry, making you think twice before biting into a Big Mac.

There are many issues discussed in this book, but the bulk of them can be summarized into five salient points; how the market has affected children’s lives, the poor treatment of a mostly teenage workforce, the awful conditions of the cattle ranges and meat packing factories, the globalization of fast food chains and its effect on the world, and a call to action for the people of America to force a change.

Not only is the food unhealthy for the children’s physical well being, it’s becoming unhealthy for the children’s minds. Starting almost directly out of the womb, children are pounded with marketing propaganda. Fast food chains around the globe spend billions of dollars combined on advertising. This excessive advertising has affected every aspect of children’s lives; including school. Commercials for fast food and energy drinks are featured on Channel One news, shown to hundreds of millions of kids in school each and every day. The book brings to light this ridiculous behavior, and questions where the line should be drawn on how far the fast food chains can reach.

Another issue brought to light that affects America’s youth is the mistreatment of the industry’s mostly teenage workforce. After a long day of school, many teens will work long hours behind the counter of their local fast food chain. Some do it out of a need to support their families, but many do it just for some extra spending money. The fast food chains force these teenagers to work extra hours, for only minimum wage, illegally not paying overtime salaries. This causes an incredible amount of stress, and affects their sleep, their education, and their sanity. Suicide rates among fast food workers is climbing significantly. Schlosser informs the reader that in order to pay these teens and migrant workers the extra money they’re entitled to, the price of a couple items on the menu would only have to be bumped up a few cents.

The work that goes on behind the scenes, however, is even more inhumane. The conditions for the workers that provide the food for this fast food nation are terrible. Cattle farmers are being driven out of the market by massive businesses that seek nothing but profit. These large businesses own millions of times more cattle than the typical cattle farmer, allowing them to sell to the fast food chains as low as they need to to knock the farmer out of business. In the meatpacking factories, an incredible amount of illegal actions take place. The business as a whole is unsanitary and unrestricted. The meat is infected with deadly diseases, dirt, feces, body parts (both human and animal), and many more foreign objects. The factories are a gruesome place of death and filth. While it is a step up from the conditions Upton Sinclair described in 1906 with The Jungle, it is not a very large step at all. Fast Food Nation informs a very naive country on these issues, and sparks a desire in the average person to make a change.

The fast food nation described are not limited to only this nation. Since the 70s, fast food has been spreading globally, and at an alarming rate. Many fast food chains are more popular overseas than in America, where it all began. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the trail of morbid obesity these big businesses leave behind is. Wherever these chains go, child obesity rates follow. Countries that once ate a diet of rice and fish now eat Big Macs and McNuggets. The percentage of overweight people in these countries is growing significantly.

Schlosser wraps the book up with a call for the American people to take a stand. After informing the people on what is going on in the industry, Schlosser tells the people how to make a change. Since the book’s publication in 2001, the industry has in fact changed. While the fast food chains are making a change, it is far from the ideal state of this nation. Fast Food Nation tells readers how easy it would be for these massive corporations to make a change. They could easily fix every single issues Schlosser brings up with only a minimal cut in their profits. This fast food nation is run by greedy, greasy men, and change needs to happen.

What are the Social Contexts/Considerations of Your Topic?

  1. What are the Social Contexts / Considerations of your topic?

    1. The American people could force a change if they wanted to

      1. If the population boycotts the fast food chains, the big businesses would be forced to make a change in their work conditions in the franchises, in the slaughterhouses, and on the cattle ranges. The fast food chains could easily make a change. If they were to fix all of these issues, the price of everything on the menu would only need to be raised a couple of cents to balance out the profit loss. The business people are desperate to maximize profit, and do whatever it takes to make money. Americans need to become aware of the inhumane and illegal actions taking place in the Fast Food industry.

  2. How does it affect the individual?

    1. The processes that the industry use are unhealthy and unsafe. 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases every year. With an unskilled and cheap workforce in our nation’s slaughterhouses, meat packing factories, and franchise kitchens, the food is infested with deadly bacteria, feces, dirt, and even human body parts. The awful conditions that were brought to light in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in 1906 still take place in today’s slaughterhouses and meat packing factories.

    2. Not only is the food deadly because of deadly bacteria, but the unhealthy methods in preparing the food can also have deadly impacts on the American population. In 1950, around the time the fast food industry began to rise, about one-third of Americans were overweight. In the fast food society of 2012, that number has climbed up to two-thirds of the population. About 30% of all Americans today are clinically obese. As American fast food enterprises spread throughout the globe, the trail of obesity it leaves behind is easy to see. Wherever McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King go, obesity is sure to follow.

  3. What does it have to say about the way we, as individuals in society should work to better ourselves and our world?

    1. People like fast food because it is cheap, tasty, and easy accessible. Most people do not stop to think about what they are putting in their body, but if they did they would realize that fast food is horrible for you. It is full of fat, cholesterol, and excessive amounts of calories, which can lead to heart disease and obesity. If we, the individuals of America, stopped eating fast food, we could help lower the obesity rate of the nation, and become healthier ourselves. If one person decides to eat healthier, their children, spouses, and friends will probably be influenced by that one person and begin to eat healthier as well.

  1. Content Components - Why is this relevant?

    1. Modern Context

      1. The United States lives in a fast food culture and all of the problems like the bad meat, the advertising to our children, the underpaid and bad working conditions, and other issues all affect everyone that lives there. Fast food Nation also proves that the world is being affected because the fast food culture is spreading. In the last chapter of the book the author talks about how in Germany many neo-nazis are very against everything foreign. Schlosser still noticed that he would see them at fast food restaurants especially McDonalds because they didn't consider it to be foreign. The fast food culture is spreading all across the world.

    2. Significance to Your Peers?
      1. As teens many of us could start jobs at fast food restaurants not realizing how underpaid they would be or the bad conditions that come with working at a fast food restaurant.

      2. We all live in a fast food culture and all of the problems that come with it effect us.

    3. Social/Personal Value
In the article Obesity and Fast Food by Dr. Ananya Mandal, the author discusses multiple things discussed in Fast Food Nation, such as how fast food corporations see children as the main target, therefore they are affected fast foods much more than the average adult. Both works discuss the health problems that individuals who eat excessive amount of fast food will face. “Obesity is linked to several long term health conditions, premature death and illness including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, fatty liver, arthritis and joint disorders and some cancers,” says Mandal. Eric Schlosser also talks about the health effects of fast food and obesity; our nation’s children are now more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Fast Food Nation PSA

Design a Project

  1. Design a Project

    1. YMCA “healthy kids” Initiative (Advertising to kids)

      1. Mission Statement: “As a leading nonprofit strengthening community through healthy living, the Y holds Healthy Kids Day each spring to teach healthy habits to kids and inspire a lifetime love of physical activity. One in three children in the United States is overweight or obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Developing healthier habits that include increased physical activity is more important than ever.”

    2. Cultivate Kansas City -

      1. Mission Statement: “Our industrial food system has created a health crisis, an economic crisis, an environmental crisis and a crisis of community. Cultivate Kansas City believes that urban agriculture is fundamental to building an alternative system for our city. Through growing good food, growing new urban farms, and growing stronger communities, we aim to build a healthier, more economically and environmentally sustainable community.”

    3. Stand Up KC (Underpaid employees)

      1. Mission Statement: “We are fast food and retail workers from across KC coming together to demand good wages and a voice for low-wage workers. Today, 48,000 Kansas Citians are employed in some of the world’s largest and most profitable fast food and retail corporations. But they work in our city’s worst paying jobs. The average fast food worker is now 28 years old and the average retail worker is 38. Both make about $7.35/hour, have no healthcare, no paid sick days or vacation pay, and face daily discrimination. Top brands like McDonald’s make $5.4 billion in profit, pay their CEO $14 million, and have over 500 locations city-wide. It would take the average retail worker 823 years to earn what Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson earns in a year. But fast food and retail workers won’t accept these facts any longer. Right now fast food and retail workers are sticking together to fight for higher pay so they can afford basic needs, like groceries, housing and transportation. Stand with us as we stand up for our city and our futures!”