The Quick Stats on Fast Food Nation


In his seminal work critiquing the fast food industry, Eric Schlosser presents an eye-opening account of the effects companies like McDonald’s have had on the American population that extend far beyond its waistline.

Not only does he examine the monopolization of the beef and corn industries by corporate giants, but he also takes a closer look at the socioeconomic implications affecting workers. In each of the chapters, the human component that propels the behemoth machine forward is often at a disadvantage–most of the fast food employees are kept working part-time (to avoid the benefits of full-time employment) and automation often makes them dispensable. It’s this mechanized process that truly strikes a chord with Schlosser as being the dark underbelly of fast food greed.  

Originally published in 2001, the book’s observations still resonate. He traces the history of the fast food industry and reflects on the stranglehold it’s had on our country since World War II. Schlosser delves deep, even exploring the evolution of fast food production. He visits the flavor scientists who are responsible for manipulating and delivering the Whopper and the Big Mac flavors so many of us crave. In another chapter, he discusses a potato factory that has perfected the science of chopping and slicing to get that ideal, crunchy french fry. In all of these instances, the human component is largely removed in preparation and enjoyment of food. We might as well be mechanized robots inhaling the laboratory experiments presented before us.

After reading and rereading this book numerous times over the years, one still can’t help but feel shocked at the lack of changes the fast food industry has taken to protect its workers as well as its consumers. If only the time and effort spent on sales and marketing went into improving the quality of all the various lives within the fast food nation.