Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fast Food Nation

I haven't watched the movie based on the book Fast Food Nation. But if you are interested in watching the trailer, click here. I'm not embedding it within the post because its movie rating is R (Restricted). But to balance the views in the movie, here's a video titled "A Tour of McDonald's Meat Factories". I will then leave you to your discerning mind where to place your trust.


I always wanted to read this book and finally got my hands on it. It's no surprise that we are surrounded by fast food, but one thing I realised is that Singapore actually has a very heavy concentration of McDonald's, as opposed to US. When I was in the US, I was surprised to find that Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks were a lot more prevalent than McDonald's. Instead, McDonald's was more often seen along some random highway or next to a gas station. 

More about this book. Ever since I read Eating Animals, I have taken an interest to the source of our food and the processes involved before your food reaches the table. There are similarities and differences between this book and Eating Animals. While they both discuss the ill treatment to animals (in different depths), they have different focuses, as you can gather from the titles. 

A favourite quote I enjoyed was this: "If we eat McDonald's hamburgers and potatoes for a thousand years," Fujita once promised his countrymen, "we will become taller, our skin will become white, and our hair will be blonde." 

This book explores various aspects of fast food, from the history of McDonald's and Carl's Jr, to the way advertisements target children as their audience, to the way the fries are made, the cattle is raised, low wages, extremely dangerous working conditions, a total lack of concern for the diseases that spread through unhygienic working conditions and how politics has a hand in everything. Basically, Schlosser paints a very grim picture of the fast food industry.

This book didn't really affect my eating pattern. As the years passed by, my intake of fast food has decreased. Except for the occasional pancakes from Macs, I haven't eaten my favourite childhood food- McNuggets for quite some time. And I don't have any humanitarian reasons for this. It's just that the more information I have about the food, the more I want to shun it.

(photo credit: cupofzup)

As for Schlosser's writing style, it gets a little boring after a while. For example, to emphasise the age at which people are tormented by fast food in some way, his standard sentence goes like this, "(something happened to the guy.) He was (insert number) years old." I know this is a very minor point but it got on my nerves a little. Other than that, it seems well researched. I base this on the humongous amount of references at the back of the book but I know sometimes, it isn't representative.

The ideas behind the book are interesting although different people may have different preferences for his method of delivery. The first part of the book bore me because it was about some history and I'm totally not a history person. But other than that portion which you can speed through, the rest of the book should offer a good glimpse into the world of fast food. 


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