What are the main points in Fast Food Nation:  The Dark Side of the All- American Meal?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the book, the author discusses a number of critical issues and their impact on the fast food industry, workers, and consumers. Some of them include;

Rise of large corporations

The rise has revolutionized the industry from traditional family-owned establishments to corporate-owned farms and processing plants. The rise of corporations has introduced the concept of mass production, which is characterized by reduced competition among meatpackers and french-fries producers. In turn, the prices of cattle and potatoes have reduced significantly, resulting in lower wages and benefits for the workers in these industries.

Unfavorable working conditions

Besides low wages, workers are forced to work in extremely harsh conditions, some even life-threatening. The low wages can only afford them a poor quality of life.

Health concerns

Fast food is prepared in filthy kitchens infested with rodents and bugs, posing a public health concern for consumers. Additionally, fast food chains are known to use barely safe chemical additives and flavors in order to differentiate their products from competitors. Also, statistics indicate a number of fatalities each year due to food poisoning that is caused by poor food handling and packaging practices.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This book is about the way in which fast food, both the food itself and the lifestyle it embodies, have pervaded American culture since its origins with a few hamburger stands in southern California. The author is interested in the way in which the fast food industry has revolutionized the United States. 

According to the author, on any given day about one-quarter of Americans visit a fast food restaurant (page 3). As fast food plays such an important role in most Americans' lives, it has transformed not only what we eat, but also our culture, economy, workforce, and even the way our country looks. While the fast food industry has changed our culture, our cultural needs have also fed its growth. For example, the need for working women to get food quickly for their families and the decline of real wages since the 1970s has led to the growth of the fast food industry. The author also explores what goes into making fast food and the way in which fast food has changed the food production industry. The author also discusses the way in which the industry exploits poorly paid workers who work in dangerous conditions and how the consumption of fast food negatively affects our health.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It will be difficult, if not impossible, to offer a complete summary here.  The main points that Schlosser brings out revolve around the food preparation in "fast food" establishments, the desires to increase consumer purchase and consumption of food, and how there is a subterranean force of malevolence underneath the "fast food" establishment that has enshrined itself as a part of our culture.  Schlosser discusses how the industry has colluded with other elements to ensure that profit and the continued profit of the fast food industry is here to stay.  This involves the shortchanging of farmers as well as consumers in the need to generate profits on a gargantuan scale.  This drive for profits has created some undesirable side effects in terms of health and social contexts, as evidenced in the analysis of Greeley, Colorado, a town that helps to drive the meatpacking component of fast food industries.  Both in food preparation, animal slaughter, and human cost, the need to deliver profit is something that Schlosser makes life not worth living and food not worth eating.

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