Eric Schlosser investigates into the machinations of the fast food industry in this non-fiction. He begins with the advent of the fast food culture accelerated by the growth of automobiles, drivers and good roads. He then moves into the system of franchises which fuelled the growth of the fast food industry. Very soon, the needs for profits became important. So, the working condition of the employees degraded. In order to avoid unnecessary surprises, forming an union was discouraged through various techniques – contractual and psychological - devised by the fast food conglomerates. When the outlets increased through franchising, there also arose a demand for constant supply of consumers. This led to various efforts targeting the young minds to ensure a lifelong allegiance. Schlosser also examines many industries spawned by the growth of fast food outlets. For an uninterrupted supply of raw materials, various other industries have sprung up. He devotes pages on potato farming and meat packing. The various practices of these industries for a steady supply at a low cost are explained in detail.
In this book, Schlosser concentrates on the effects on the fast food industry on the American way of life and also psyche. As fast food joints are rapidly expanding across the globe, he also details the globalization impacts on a minute scale. Fast food is referred as “unhealthy” in common parlance. So, the resonating theme of the book is also “unhealthy”. In this book, the term unhealthy has profound meaning as it highlights ill effects of not only one’s body but also one’s society and culture. But, Schlosser’s book does not end up as a doomsday prediction. He also suggest practical ways to fight these ill effects. According to him, corporatization is not bad. Most of the ill effects can be easily checked by the corporate by letting go of a few pennies of the profit earned. Many of the instances provided refer the fast food giant MacDonald’s. In the afterword, Schlosser has defended this point. As the original book was published a few years back, the afterword is a well intended attempt to update the new reader on the current changes in the industry.
The narrative is simple. The industry touches our every day life. Combining the above two facts, this book becomes a tireless read once you get your hands on it. If you are an avid reader who wants to try out non-fiction, then this is the right book to start with.
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