Who is the intended audience for Fast Food Nation?

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omconnelly | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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The intended audience for the text Fast Food Nation is the American consumer. The central claim of the text is the fast food industry helped to shape American culture. This is evident by the grounds the author presents to argue against consumers contributing to the authority the fast food industry has over American agriculture, government programs, and overall consumption by the American consumer. 

The author provides grounds about how the fast food industry dictates consumerism in other industries such as the toy industry. When the fast food industry decided to promote its products to the younger generations by integrating toys as part of its packaging, the fast food industry became the largest distributor of toys in the United States. An example of this tactic is how children's films are promoted through the fast food industry. In addition to toy distribution, the author claims (and supports the claims through the use of internal memos from major companies in the fast food industry) that the industry is invested in creating lifelong customers; this indoctrination begins with the youth and using tactics such as child-sized meals and promotions. 

The author also illustrates the connections between the fast food industry and the agriculture production in the United States. Due to its large consumption of beef, chicken, potato products, the fast food industry dictates technological advancements in production and efficiency in production. The author contends that there is a trickle down effect on the American consumer by limiting the market for consumers. The author presents evidence that the fast food industry plays a role in the reduction of the smaller farmer and the expansion of the larger conglomerate farms that serve the fast food industry. The author presents a correlation between government programs and legislation and the funding that the fast food industry provides to certain political organizations. As a result of these factors, the American consumer may be paying more money for a lower quality product. 

In addition to the fast food industry's influence on agriculture in the United States, the author presents scientific evidence about the fast food industry's influence on the science behind food. In order to increase efficiency in production, the industry promotes the use of genetically modified product (such as chickens) to increase efficiency in butchering the product. As a result of modifications made to food production, the answer to a "lower quality product" is scientific modification of taste and scent of the food. The author includes the example of McDonald's french fries. The fries are not simply potatoes fried in oil. They have an additive that makes them "tastier" and as a result more appealing or addictive - depending on your point of view. 

Lastly, the author presents evidence about the impact of the fast food industry on the American worker. He contends that the fast food industry is anti-union because at the time of publication there was not a single fast food chain that had a union to protect its workers. The author also presents statistical evidence about high turnover in fast food chains, lower education and socioeconomic status of its workers, and high crime rates compared to other industries (including restaurants that are not considered "fast food"). 

Ultimately, the author is trying to influence the American consumer about the purchases they make and their effects on American culture and their personal health. 

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