Fast Food Nation The Dark Underside of the All-American Meal
If you ever eat fast food, you must read this book. Schlosser takes the lid off the fast food industry, and exposes it for what it is: a public health nightmare. From the advertising aimed directly at young children, and placed directory into schools, to the treatment of workers at the slaughterhouses, forced to endure unbelievable working conditions for minimal compensation. He talks about the way ranchers are losing their farms, to how poultry farmers are owned by the large corporations, to how the fast food industry takes advantage of corporate welfare while giving their workers minimal compensation. (That person selling you your burger has no health insurance, no sick leave, no vacation and gets paid next to nothing for being on their feet all day.) He looks at all aspects of the fast food industry from the potatoes, chicken and cattle, to the end product that is served to you by a teenager who is gaining no appreciable skills on the job.
Eric Schlosser exposes the fast food industry in a book that is both compelling and extensively fact-checked. As he says, the fast food industry is very litigious, and willing to sue at the drop of a hat to fight what they perceive as bad press. (Think the tobacco companies in the 50s and 60s denying the dangers of cigarettes.) He describes the lengths to which these companies will go to avoid paying benefits for their employees, how these companies deal with Worker's Comp and workplace injuries, how the manage to keep prices so low, how they have entered schools not only though advertising, but through restaurants in the schools, and even in the textbooks.
He talks about how the taste of your food has little or nothing to do with the original ingredients, and everything to do with factories in New Jersey that manufacture scents and tastes.
The paperback version I read even has a new afterword, discussing "mad cow disease" and the implications of what is happening in Europe.
I already avoided eating at fast food restaurants--this book merely strengthened my resolve.