Know your connection to the food you eat

Remember ‘Fast Food Nation’ by Eric Schlosser? For one of my electives during my masters, i wrote a review on the book. It provides an account of the evolution of fast food and how it has coincided with the advent of the automobile.

The book itself is divided into two sections: “The American Way”, which interrogates the beginnings of the Fast Food Nation within the context of post-World War II America; and “Meat and Potatoes”, which examines the specific mechanizations of the fast-food industry, including the chemical flavoring of the food, the production of cattle and chickens, the working conditions of beef industry, the dangers of eating meat, and the global context of fast food as an American cultural export.

Fast Food Nation opens with discussion of Carl N. Karcher and the McDonalds brothers, examining their roles as pioneers of the fast-food industry in southern California. This discussion is followed by an examination of Ray Kroc and Walt Disney’s complicated relationship as well as each man’s rise to fame. This chapter also considers the intricate, profitable methods of advertising to children. Next, Schlosser visits Colorado Springs, CO and investigates the life and working conditions of the typical fast-food industry employee: fast-food restaurants employ the highest rate of low-wage workers, have among the highest turnover rates, and pay minimum wage to a higher proportion of its employees than any other American industry.

The second section of the text begins with a discussion of the chemical components that make the food taste so good. Schlosser follows this with a discussion of the life of a typical rancher, considering the difficulties presented to the agriculture world in a new economy. Schlosser is perhaps most provocative when he critiques the meatpacking industry, which he tags as the most dangerous job in America. Moreover, the meat produced by slaughterhouses has become exponentially more hazardous since the centralization of the industry: the way cattle are raised, slaughtered, and processed provides an ideal setting for E coli to spread. Additionally, working conditions continue to grow worse. In the final chapter, Schlosser considers how fast food has matured as an American cultural export following the Cold War: the collapse of Soviet Communism has allowed the mass spread of American goods and services, especially fast food. As a result, the rest of the world is catching up with America’s rising obesity rates.

Together with Eva Longoria, Eric Schlosser revisits the working conditions of those working in the food industry, and we are not even talking about the people who serve your beloved hamburger, rather the migrant workers on the farms. ”FOOD CHAINS” exposes the abuses rampant in farm labor in the United States and reveals the forces behind that exploitation through the narrative of an intrepid group of tomato pickers in Florida, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who are battling the 4 trillion dollar global supermarket industry – and winning!

There is more interest in food now than ever before, yet, no one is talking about the people who pick our food, the hundreds of thousands of hard working individuals to whom we are all connected through our purchases at supermarkets, farmers’ markets and restaurants.
The movie will be In Theaters: November 21, 2014, catch the trailer here:

Know your connection to the food you eat, you as a consumer reserve the right to ask where it is your food originates, and collective efforts can put pressure on retailers to provide this information

Be an informed consumer

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