What are some important places or settings in Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal?  

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one important place or setting in Schlosser's work would be Southern California.  Southern California opens the narrative.  It is in California that the birth of the "all American meal" takes place.  Southern California is shown to be a realm where dreams are possible, unlimited vistas await, and the horizon of individual imagination is in its purest form.  Schlosser identifies this as the place that fast food takes form.  Part of the reason for this is that Schlosser asserts that those in the position of power such as Karcher and the McDonald Brothers were able to utilize the mystique of California as part of their fast food vision.  The "dark side" of this vision was shrouded in California hope and optimism. 

Another setting that is important in the analysis of the "dark side" of American fast food is Greeley, Colorado.  Viewed as part of the "cogs in the machine," Greeley exemplifies the darker aspects of fast food production.  The workers that are employed in Greeley's slaughterhouses are individuals viewed as a means to an end.  Schlosser uses Greeley to depict how the consumption of fast food products does not just hurt the consumer.  It destroys the people who produce them.  Greeley is an important setting in the book because it embodies the destructive nature of fast food products, specifically meat packing.  In this light, Greeley is a location-based metaphor for the corrosion that is fast food.

Plauen is a third important setting for Schlosser's overall thesis.  One of the first German communities to welcome the Nazis, it was also one of the first communities to welcome a McDonald's in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Plauen's link between Nazism and McDonald's is significant because both are viewed as unstoppable agents of action that destroy anything they touch.  Plauen's embrace of both Nazism and McDonald's before anyone else is a sober reminder that singular and oppressive notions of the good have not disappeared in the modern setting.  Through Plauen, Schlosser makes the argument that they actually have intensified in the modern condition and individuals must be vigilant to stand opposed to or, at the very least, be informed about them.

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