Fast Food Nation

Eric Schlosser


A Few Summaries

Helpful websites

Comprehension Questions for Fast Food Nation

A Few Videos

A Few Articles




A few summaries...

(The back cover)

Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. That’s a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Schlosser makes the stick with a artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning.

Schlosser’s myth-shattering survey stretches from California’s subdivisions, where the business was born, to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike, where many of fast food’s flavors are concocted. Along the way, he unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths – from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production, popular culture, and even real estate.


On any given day, one out of four Americans opts for a quick and cheap meal at a fast-food restaurant, without giving either its speed or its thriftiness a second thought. Fast food is so ubiquitous that it now seems as American, and harmless, as apple pie. But the industry's drive for consolidation, homogenization, and speed has radically transformed America's diet, landscape, economy, and workforce, often in insidiously destructive ways. Eric Schlosser, an award-winning journalist, opens his ambitious and ultimately devastating exposé with an introduction to the iconoclasts and high school dropouts, such as Harlan Sanders and the McDonald brothers, who first applied the principles of a factory assembly line to a commercial kitchen. Quickly, however, he moves behind the counter with the overworked and underpaid teenage workers, onto the factory farms where the potatoes and beef are grown, and into the slaughterhouses run by giant meatpacking corporations. Schlosser wants you to know why those French fries taste so good (with a visit to the world's largest flavor company) and "what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns." Eater beware: forget your concerns about cholesterol, there is--literally--feces in your meat.

Schlosser's investigation reaches its frightening peak in the meatpacking plants as he reveals the almost complete lack of federal oversight of a seemingly lawless industry. His searing portrayal of the industry is disturbingly similar to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, written in 1906: nightmare working conditions, union busting, and unsanitary practices that introduce E. coli and other pathogens into restaurants, public schools, and homes. Almost as disturbing is his description of how the industry "both feeds and feeds off the young," insinuating itself into all aspects of children's lives, even the pages of their school books, while leaving them prone to obesity and disease. Fortunately, Schlosser offers some eminently practical remedies. "Eating in the United States should no longer be a form of high-risk behavior," he writes. Where to begin? Ask yourself, is the true cost of having it "your way" really worth it? --Lesley Reed

From Google Books

Are we what we eat? To a degree both engrossing and alarming, the story of fast food is the story of postwar Amerca. Though created by a handful of mavericks, the fast food industry has triggered the homogenization of our society. Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled the juggernaut of American cultural imperialism abroad. That's a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Schlosser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning. Schlosser's myth-shattering survey stretches from the California subdivisions where the business was born to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike where many of fast food's flavors are concocted. He hangs out with the teenagers who make the restaurants run and communes with those unlucky enough to hold America's most dangerous job -- meatpacker. He travels to Las Vegas for a giddily surreal franchisers' convention where Mikhail Gorbachev delivers the keynote address. He even ventures to England and Germany to clock the rate at which those countries are becoming fast food nations. Along the way, Schlosser unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths -- from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production, popular culture, and even real estate. He also uncovers the fast food chains' efforts to reel in the youngest, most susceptible consumers even while they hone their institutionalized exploitation of teenagers and minorities. Schlosser then turns a critical eye toward the hot topic of globalization -- a phenomenon launched by fast food. FAST FOOD NATION is a groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that may change the way America thinks about the way it eats.

Printer-Friendly Summaries


Fast Food Nation Comprehension Questions

Fast Food Nation, Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2
Fast Food Nation, Chapters 3 and 4
Fast Food Nation, Chapters 5 and 6
Fast Food Nation, Chapters 7, 8 and 9

An Audio Interview

Audio Interview: Eric Schlosser

An interview by Bill Goldstein, books editor of The New York Times on the Web, January 18, 2001. While the entire interview is 43 minutes long, it's also organized by topic, so you can listen to a topic that most interests you. The topics are: On the Impact of Fast Food; On Hidden Subsidies; On the Business Model of the Industry; On Uniformity; and, On the Benefits of Fast Food. You'll need to set up a free login for the New York Timess and you'll need RealPlayer to listen to the interview. However, it's worth the few extra steps!

Follow this link to the interview:

Some helpful websites...

Though not a fan of Wikipedia, I'm including its website as a quick glance at the book.

Here's a link to which ofters a free study guide for the book. I'm including this link so that YOU KNOW THAT I KNOW that it's there. It's also worth noting that many other sites that contain information about the book Fast Food Nation, copied their information from this site. You should also know that I HAVE STUDIED THE SITE, so YOU SHOULDN'T COPY FROM IT because I will recognize that you have done so! Feel free to use the site to help you understand the book better.

Here's a link to the Food, Inc. official website!


A Few Videos...

In this video, author Eric Schlosser discusses the dramatisation of his junk food book Fast Food Nation. It is from the BBC, which is the British Broadcasting Corporation. This is less than 10 minutes in length. Author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) discusses the relationship between how America treats its laborers and the American food system. About the movie Food, Inc.
Here's one of the trailers for the movie Fast Food Nation
Author Michael Pollan (The Botany of Desire and The Omnivores Dilemma) talks about the important message of the documentary Food, Inc. and why viewers should watch take the time to watch it.
Here's a trailer for the movie SuperSize Me Here's a trailer for the movie Food, Inc,


The link below is to an ABC report about the movie -- it is not possible to embed the code, so follow the link to This short video includes criticism of the film by people in the meat industry. It's called 'Food, Inc.' Challenges the Industry
This one focuses on McDonalds' processing in Oklahoma. Embedding has been disabled, so you'll have to follow the link below to YouTube.

First Lady Michelle Obama introduces 'Let's Move!' To get more information about this public health initiative that is sponsored by the White House, go to In this video, First Lady Michelle Obama kicks off a campaign to confront the problem of childhood obesity at a YMCA in Alexandria, VA. She is joined by Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Dr. Judith Palfrey, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. January 28, 2010.



OK, so now it's time for the "gross" videos. 

Undercover Investigation at Hy-Line Hatchery: Thrown, dropped, mutilated, and ground-up alive. This is the disturbing reality faced by hundreds of thousands of chicks each day at the world's largest egg-laying breed hatchery Hy-Line International in Spencer, Iowa. New hidden camera footage obtained at this facility during an undercover investigation gives a disturbing glimpse into the cruel and industrialized reality of modern hatcheries.


A Few Articles...

Burger King franchisees sue over $1 promotion

They claim chain forcing them to sell double cheeseburgers at a loss

The Flavor Industry

by Samia McCully, N.D.

For thousands of years, spices and sauces and different forms of cooking have flavored our food naturally. So, why is there a multi-billion dollar industry based on replicating these results?


Running for Your Life
New York Times -- 11/5/2010

by Anemona Hartocollis

New York's health commissioner exercises seven days a week, loves his vegetables and counts his calories. He wants others to get with the program.

While Warning about Fat, US Pushes Cheese Sales
New York Times -- 11/6/2010

by Michael Moss

When sales of Domino's Pizza were lagging, a government agency stepped in with advice: more cheese. This is the same government that, for health reasons, is advising less cheese.


What's So Great About Organic Food?
Time -- 8/30/2010

by Jeffrey Kluger

It costs too much, and it's harder to find, but everyone says you should be eating it. So the question is: what's so great about organic food?

Saved by the Sell
Time -- 11/8/2010

by Andrea Ford

Cash strapped schools are pushing ad space on lockers, buses, even permissions slips. Is this bad for kids?

Culture of Corpulence
Newsweek -- 3/22/2010

by Claudia Kalb

American innovations in food, transportation and technology are threatening to SuperSize us all.

Michelle on a Mission

Newsweek, -- 3/22/2010

by Michelle Obama

How we can inspire parent's, schools, and communities tobatle childhood obesity.


Strong Medicine

Newsweek -- 3/22/2010

by Claudia McCarthy

Doctors must do more to help patients fught the battle of the bulge. We are the ones whose words -- clear, authoritative, personalized -- can have the most impact.

Dr. Oz -- The Organic Alternative

Newsweek -- 3/22/3010

by Dr. Mehmet Oz

Food raised without chemicals are best -- except when they're not. Here's how to know.


Whole Hog

Newsweek -- 5/15/2010

by Julia Reed

First bacon got hip. Now it's time to really pig out.

Taste Test: Taking on the KFC Double Down

Time -- 6/7/2010

by Joel Stein

KFC's breadless Double Down sandwich is a salty, unhealthy, gooey mess. And I loved every bite of it.,9171,1992401,00.html

Cattle, Cattle, Cattle!!!

Here are two more stories, both from NPR, that focus on cattle. The first is a story from New Mexico that looks at the problem of manure from dairy cattle and its effect on people and the environment; the second is a story about a farmer who's trying to bring back the true taste of milk. I'm embedding the audio so that you can listen to it from this page; however, I encourage you to follow the link to the story as it's found on the NPR website, where you'll find not only pictures that accompany the story, but also an article that includes both a summary and a partial transcript.


Here's the URL to the above story:


Here's the URL to the above story:


Chicken, chicken chicken!!!!

How Safe Is That Chicken? (2010, January). Consumer Reports, pp. 19-23


Here is an audio summary of the Consumer Reports chicken article, with a brief interview of the writer.






Dr. Temple Grandin -- Killing with Kindness

"Executives at a global corporation have turned to a woman with autism and they've asked her to transform their industry. The company is McDonald's—they've launched the first campaign of its kind to pressure slaughterhouses that provide their meat to dispatch the animals more humanely. As we reported in Cracking Down on Egg Suppliers, the company is also pressuring animal farmers to change their ways. The record suggests that the company is partly reacting to political pressures, but whatever the motives, McDonald's is prompting the entire U.S. food industry to make "animal welfare" a major issue. And executives say they couldn't have done it without Temple Grandin."

There are 2 ways to listen to the story about Temple. You can download the mp3 and listen to it at your leisure. Follow this link to the mp3.

Or, you can follow this link and listen to the story now.