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Are We What We Eat?

  • Dec 30, 2001
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Normally I do not read any other reviews of a book until after I have composed my own but I made an exception with this one and was surprised, frankly, to encounter such a wide range of opinions among the almost 300 people who have written Customer Reviews for Amazon.com thus far. My own opinion is that this is an especially important book for several reasons but first, an opinion about its author. Schlosser is not the "sensationalist" and "muckraker" many have suggested; rather, I think, he is a cultural anthropologist who explores the correlations between the fast food industry and the larger human community in which speed is among the most highly praised (and most highly rewarded) of attributes. The American people also appreciate convenience. Hence the popularity of drive-through shopping and banking, cellular phones, home delivery of goods and services (including gourmet meals), online shopping and bill paying, and even locating some candidates online for social companionship, if not marriage. The American people also seem to grow more impatient each day. Hence the popularity of the channel changer, DSL connections, HOV lanes, "quick lubes", and various forms of what in Dallas are called "toll tags" which can also be used to pay for parking throughout the city, including airports.

I mention all this by way of explaining my first reason for thinking so highly of this book: functioning as a cultural anthropologist, Schlosser makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of a society which cherishes (to the extreme) both convenience and speed. My second reason is that Schlosser, in process, also provides an eloquent and convincing indictment of the nutritional deficiencies of fast food. I already knew that fast food, especially when consumed to excess, was undesirable. I had no idea, however, that it could also be unhealthy. (At this point, I feel obliged to admit to an addiction to the #4 Value Meal at McDonald's. Also, as a grandparent, I appreciate the ease and relatively low cost of making a quick stop to feed hungry grandchildren almost anywhere we may be.) My third and final reason is that, in this book, Schlosser also raises important questions and addresses important issues concerning the values of our society. With Americans eating (on average) three of every five meals prepared outside the home, what does that suggest? The television set is often used as a baby-sitter. When used in combination with a fast food meal, what does that suggest about the quality of a child's family life? In my opinion, Schlosser requires his reader to consider why the fast food industry now plays such a central role in our society. For some of us, at least, his accusations hit the mark and his conclusions are rock-solid. Increased speed and convenience in all human activities usually have a price to be paid. Insofar as fast food is concerned, Schlosser helps all of us to determine not only the price but the total cost.

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review by . July 08, 2002
A bit of a disturbing book! It has certainly changed my eating habits. The book was well done and certainly brought out some good points. I was a bit troubled though as to the authors unrelenting "everything is bad in America, blah, blah, blah" bit. Sounded a bit too 60ish for my taste. If indeed, things are as bad as the author indicates, and the "ship is sinking fast," why is it our country is so successful? Why is EVERYONE trying to imigrate here and not the other way around? If this place is …
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Robert Morris ()
Ranked #168
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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On any given day, one out of four Americans opts for a quick and cheap meal at a fast-food restaurant, without giving either its speed or its thriftiness a second thought. Fast food is so ubiquitous that it now seems as American, and harmless, as apple pie. But the industry's drive for consolidation, homogenization, and speed has radically transformed America's diet, landscape, economy, and workforce, often in insidiously destructive ways. Eric Schlosser, an award-winning journalist, opens his ambitious and ultimately devastating exposé with an introduction to the iconoclasts and high school dropouts, such as Harlan Sanders and the McDonald brothers, who first applied the principles of a factory assembly line to a commercial kitchen. Quickly, however, he moves behind the counter with the overworked and underpaid teenage workers, onto the factory farms where the potatoes and beef are grown, and into the slaughterhouses run by giant meatpacking corporations. Schlosser wants you to know why those French fries taste so good (with a visit to the world's largest flavor company) and "what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns." Eater beware: forget your concerns about cholesterol, there is--literally--feces in your meat.

Schlosser's investigation reaches its frightening peak in the meatpacking plants as he reveals the almost complete lack of federal oversight of a seemingly lawless industry. His searing portrayal of the industry is ...

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ISBN-10: 0395977894
ISBN-13: 978-0395977897
Author: Eric Schlosser
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Date Published: January 17, 2001
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"Are We What We Eat?"
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