In a prevous entry, I mentioned starting on the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. After looking at fast food employment practices (no skills + low wages + high turnover = disposable employees), Mr. Schlosser then turned to the companies supplying the fast food restaurants. I guess it wasn’t surprising to learn that the potato(e), poultry, and meat packing businesses are very big, and very few. With virtually no competition and little regulation all have become corporate monsters leeching as much as possible from ranchers, farmers, hatchers, and government tax breaks and incentives. Also, it appears that little has changed in meat packing since the days of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. The safety of the nations meat supply as well as the very dangerous working conditions in the industry should really make any carnivorous readers give pause to everything that brings hamburgers to their lips. Finally, the author discusses fast food and its correlation to rising obesity in this country as well as other countries who have been globalized by the American fast food phenomenon.
All in all, this was a very well researched book and at the very least should get any reader to at least appreciate the shear immensity and complexity of a seemingly simple drive-thru meal. But of course it goes much deeper than that, as the book hopes to show the enormous societal affects of this colossal industry. It is then left to the reader to determine if these affects are worth the super-sized quickie meals we’ve so quickly become accustomed to.
My own observations: for the $5 one might spend on a fast food meal, I can pickup several pounds of seasonal fresh fruit at the market. Not only is this just as ‘fast’, it is healthier, never gives me a bellyache, provides more than one meal, perhaps supports local farmers, AND has great juggling potential. Go ahead: I dare you to try to juggle a hamburger, fries, and softdrink!
UPDATE to the UPDATE:
Wow – it looks like there is hope for fast food. McDonalds will be phasing out supersize menu options. Here is the press release.