Posted by Jen:
One area I have always been a bit, um, fanatical about is fast food. Here in Jenworld, we don’t usually eat at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and other purveyors of McCrap. As I type, I’m searching my memory for the last time we went to a fast food place and I think it might have been last summer. Or possibly earlier in 2007. It’s just not something we do very often. My children do not like hamburgers or hot dogs, and one of my daughters won’t eat chicken nuggets/strips/wings, which means that fast food isn’t really a food option for us, even if we were so inclined to go through the drive-thru.
On a larger scale, we don’t like chain restaurants such as Crapplebees, Dead Lobster, or Olive Fartin’. The food is unhealthy and rarely is it worth the calories. When we do eat out, it’s always at one of the dozens and dozens of wonderful local restaurants that we have here in our small college town. We are truly spoiled by such riches. It is only when we travel that we will resort to consuming calories at fast food restaurants if we have no other options available to us.
So it with this background that I recommend the following two books:
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
On any given day, one out of four Americans opts for a quick and cheap meal at a fast-food restaurant, without giving it 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 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 exposé with an introduction to the iconoclasts and high school dropouts 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. 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.
If that book doesn’t turn you off of McCrap, then I recommend this one:
Don’t Eat this Book by Morgan Spurlock
The man behind the movie “Super Size Me” tells his story, and a disgusting one it is. Though he wasn’t much of an activist before his month long, McDonald’s-eating experiment, Spurlock has since become a crusader for healthy eating. His passion is obvious in this book, which delves more deeply into the issues his film raised, focusing in particular on food industry lobbyists and youth-oriented advertising. His undisguised indignation at their manipulative tactics and his contempt for the often slothful modern American lifestyle rise inexorably as he reels off statistics about calorie content, chemical additives, lack of exercise and so on.