One Nation Under Big Macs

Remember Eric Schlosser's 2001 book Fast Food Nation? According to Kim Severson of The New York Times:

In the five years since "Fast Food Nation" was published, America's attention to what it eats has perked up markedly. A movement to overhaul school lunch programs has gained momentum, capped with an announcement last week that soda companies will voluntarily remove sugary drinks from school vending machines. Terms like trans fat, mad cow disease and sustainable agriculture are part of the shopper's lexicon. Fast food companies have animal welfare policies and marketing budgets devoted to making salads as popular as burgers.

Did "Fast Food Nation," which has sold more than 1.4 million copies, serve as the guidebook to this latest food revolution?

We may never really know. Certainly, there have been many factors. But this much is certain: Schlosser is not ready to be quiet. The movie version of Fast Food Nation is about to come out, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Greg Kinnear, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Avril Lavigne and Ethan Hawke. Severson reports:

If the movie is a success at Cannes and in theaters, it may take his message to a wider and much more glittery audience. But it's Mr. Schlosser's newest book, the little sleeper aimed at young people, that could have lasting impact.

Carmen Rios, a Brooklyn teenager, recently read it as part of her work as a reporter for New Youth Connections, an independent student newspaper distributed to New York City high school students.

She grew up eating her mother's Puerto Rican dishes at home but going to McDonald's whenever she had a few dollars. At one point she ate eight meals from McDonald's in a week. "Chew on This" changed everything. Descriptions of the way animals are slaughtered and insects used for food coloring were particularly powerful.

As a result, she's off McDonald's entirely. She's eating fruit and salad.

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barbara lichtman - May 10, 2006 4:04 PM

The fast food industry works well with the drug companies. The foods make us a sick society, we then go to the doctor and get prescriptions that will supposedly "cure" us, but which often make us sicker and poorer as well.

anet - May 10, 2006 7:14 PM

This is so exciting--the popular press being used to effect positive change in our society!!
Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz was the book that kicked me in the gut- I will never eat another piece of cow or pig because of that book. Its not just the cruelty to the animals, the cruelty to the humans working in the slaughter houses is unimaginable.
Mad Cowboy turned me away from chicken. The sheer filth of the process was apalling.
I think we, as a consumer nation, are ripe for change.

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