1. Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. There are 270 pages including the epilogue. 2. Fast Food Nation is about unleashing the unsettling truths of the fast food industry. Eric Schlosser wanted to inform the American people about the reality of the fast food industry, in hopes to change people’s behaviors and awareness on what probably has had the biggest impact on American society. Our countries landscapes, the gap between the rich and the poor, horrible working conditions, the E coli and obesity epidemic are only a few areas that have been impacted.
Schlosser wrote about how the fast food industry developed, who started them, their strategies, who and what had an impact on the industry, as well as which industries they had an impact on, and the improvements made to become more productive and profitable, all of which had a major impact on our nation and is starting to have that same impact on foreign countries. This book addresses some forms of bad corporate ethics and in terms of business and the social environment. For example Companies going as far as closing down an entire fast food restaurant or meatpacking plant to avoid the creation of unions is wrong.
Also the treatment of workers in meatpacking plants is unacceptable. The story of Kenny Dobbins, an extremely loyal Monfort employee was injured at work, and on top of not paying his medical bills, Monfort tried to get rid of Kenny by making his work so unpleasant that he’d hopefully quit. As for Business and the Social Environment, the smell coming from IBP’s slaughterhouse one in particular in Dakota City, was so bad it violated the Clean Air Act because it forced people in the community to inhale toxic emissions.
Approximately one ton of hydrogen sulfide was released into the air every day, causing respiratory problems and headaches at such high levels causing permanent damage to the nervous system. It is also very disturbing to know that meat contaminated with E coli or Salmonella is able to be distributed to schools. The USDA being aware of this continued to purchase thousands of tons of meat and distributed it to schools. These few examples are completely unethical and they do not help improve the social environment of the communities around them.
It makes you wonder, are the government and the industries in America really concerned about you or your child’s safety? 3. I selected this book and this particular topic because I’ve heard that it had good reviews and that it was very interesting to read prior to this class. Also a personal goal of mine this year is to lose weight, and in order to do so another one of my goals was to stop eating fast food. I thought that after reading this book, it might help me lose interest in wanting to eat fast food, and it has. 4. Fast Food Nation is divided into two sections.
First, “The American Way” begins with discussing Carl Karcher and the McDonald Brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, and how they started their very own fast food restaurants. Next, Schlosser informs us about Ray Kroc and Walt Disney’s rise to the top. How they started, their successes, their marketing and advertising strategies directed towards children, their complicated relationship with one another and the influence they had on politics. Another subsection in “The American Way” called “Behind the Counter” discusses how McDonalds perfected restaurant site selection.
They used Colorado Springs as a test site for new types of restaurant technology, such as new machines and software designed to cut labor costs and serve their fast food even faster. The new software brought the “just in time” production into the fast food industry. The book investigates the life of a fast food employee. The fast food industry employees the highest rate of low wage workers, and “pays minimum wage to a higher proportion of its workers than any other American Industry”.
The second section, “Meat and Potatoes” starts off talking about the chemical components put into the fries to make them taste good. Next, the book talks about the life of a rancher and the problems they face in this new economy such as rising land prices, oversupply of cattle, increase shipments of cattle from other countries, declining beef prices, development pressures, health scares about beef and also the impact the fast food chains have in the meatpacking industry. The industrialization of cattle-raising and meatpacking completely changed how beef is raised, produced, slaughtered and processed.
This also affects the towns that produce it, from the E coli epidemic to poor air quality conditions. Poor working conditions progressively get worse in the fast food chains and also in the meatpacking industry. Problems include low wages, long hours, faster paces, sexual harassment, no health care or benefits, safety violations, and cleanliness. OSHA inspections also decreased. The subsection “What’s in the Meat” discuses E coli, the lack of recall, and the fact that meat contaminated with E coli or Salmonella were and probably still are being distributed to American schools.
In the last chapter Schlosser discuses obesity, the growth of franchising not only in America but in foreign countries as well. Through writing this book I believe that Eric Schlosser wanted to inform people of what goes on behind the scenes in the fast food industry, how it controls most of the nation’s food supply and how it’s manufactured, starting with how the cattle are being raised to the McDonalds employee handing a meal over to a customer. The first point Eric tries to make is that fast food has changed our culture. Fast food and restaurant chains have taken over our society.
Small family owned businesses are diminishing as we speak, and are being replaced by corporations that seem to have little concern, if any at all, for the local community. This can be connected to the change of our landscape as well. As years go by, more and more untouched land is being replaced by franchised fast food restaurant chains around the world. The fast food industry influenced how businesses function today. Another topic Schlosser talks about are the chemical components that are put into the fries to make them taste good.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me I would like to eat natural flavored foods. Knowing the fact that scientists in a lab near the New Jersey Turnpike are concocting flavors with chemicals to make fast food items taste and smell good doesn’t sit right with me. In my opinion the smell of household products is one thing, but something that I eat and consume shouldn’t be touched with any type of chemical. That doesn’t seem healthy to me. An artificial strawberry flavored milk shake from Burger King contains about 48 chemicals. Can you image how many chemicals would be in a burger and fries?
A meal that many Americans eat on a daily basis. That doesn’t sound healthy to me. A third topic mentioned throughout the book is the strategies and new improvements the fast food and meatpacking industry continually make to be more profitable. One way to make profit is with fewer workers. These industries look for ways to de-skill the work so it can be done by low wage workers. Zero training was the fast food industries ideal. Zero training combined with the inexperienced low wage workers cause violence in the work place and diseases such as E coli, simply by undercooking meat.
Meat companies move to other states like Nebraska where they can hire non-union workers and non U. S. speaking citizens who are unaware of their rights, which lets these industries continue with poor and unsafe working conditions, so they can eventually make more profit. The next main topic, arguably the most important, is what we are eating safe? The 1993 Jack in the Box food scare made consumers aware of what can happen because of the way meat is handled, slaughtered and cooked. Cattle are given growth hormones, they are fed meat parts from dead animals even though they normally eat grass and hay.
Workers don’t sanitize their knives going from one carcass to another, or even every few hours. Meat must be fully cooked, but low wage workers don’t receive the proper training to understand the importance that undercooked food can seriously ill or in some cases kill people. Workers messing with food in restaurants increase the chance of sickness even more. The last topic Schlosser seems to hint at throughout the book is that fast food industries should insist on safe practices in their meat supplier’s plants and also in their own facilities.
Fast food companies have lots of power over the meatpacking industry. For example, if McDonalds were to insist that changes need to be made in their supplier’s plants, they would do so. McDonalds is the largest and second largest purchaser of potatoes and chicken in the United States. That alone gives them influence, and they should use it. Yes this might increase their prices by a few pennies, but their customers won’t go anywhere. This also goes for the government as well. The government/OSHA should increase the number of inspections at restaurants and in the meatpacking industry rather than decreasing them. . From reading this book I’ve learned that the government is as untrusting as people make it seem. The fact that they knowingly would distribute contaminated meat to schools and not require a full recall of all their meat is disturbing. In the book it mentioned that the Republican Party declined the number of OSHA investigations on meatpacking plants because they donated money and supported them for reelection. The government/OSHA are supposed to be here to protect American citizens, and to keep us healthy.
The fact that they would be so inconsiderate with something that could even potentially affect their own family and friends is very selfish. I realize that most of these acts were done in the past, but I highly doubt that it doesn’t happen today. Also fast food chains and meatpacking plants being so against unions to the point where they close down a specific location just to avoid them, is not ethical. I understand that they don’t agree with unions and don’t want to deal with them, but I think they took a very harsh measure to go as far as shutting down a location to avoid them.
Almost every meatpacking company mentioned in this book seems to have absolutely no corporate social responsibility at all. They open and close buildings leaving people without jobs, not caring about their environment which goes back to the toxic chemicals their plants release and the mistreatment of workers. Until I read this book I wouldn’t have ever thought that some companies could be so selfish to the point where they only worry about making more of a profit. That they have absolutely no concern for their social responsibility for the communities around them. 6.
I absolutely enjoyed reading this book, and I have already recommended it to a friend and some family members. I believe that I’m very sheltered and because of that I don’t think I really have an accurate view of the world around me. I have been fortunate enough to not have had hardly any bad people or experiences in my life, so I always would have liked to of hoped that people and organizations would want to do only good things, and to make a profit as well. This book really made me open up my eyes and see that some people and organizations, only goal is to solely make a profit.
That they don’t care about the animals that they are hurting, their communities, their employees, their employee’s families, or even their own family in some cases. It’s almost as if some people are heartless. The impact the book had on my thinking was negative. Everything in the book was negative therefore I think when I examine or read about a company from now on I will second guess their approach. I’ll think about what it is that they actually want and if what they are doing genuinely benefits themselves or someone/something else. For example, we discussed is class that Coco Cola is donating to help save the polar bears.
But considering that they are a huge global company, they could and should absolutely do more. They could do more things to help their local communities or improve their product buy reducing a risk that their product leads too. Such as, reducing the amount of sugar in their products will help reduce obesity rates. The book will have an impact on my behaviors as well. I will not be purchasing fast food any longer. What I’ve learned that happens in fast food restaurants is gross and extremely unhealthy. The uncooked meat, everything being frozen, and the employees fooling around with the food. I rather cook my own.
I’m going to try to eat less processed foods since I now know they have many chemicals in them just like fast food. I don’t judge the author, Eric Schlosser at all. I applaud him for taking the risk of voicing the truths behind the fast food industry. I think it was a great thing what he did. I believe people should be informed on topics like these. For example, Vegetarians have eaten McDonalds French fries for years, and after reading this book vegetarians around the world come to find out that McDonald’s fries and hash browns do in fact contain beef in them. If it wasn’t for Eric, vegetarians never would have known.