Fast Food: The Real Deal
“Fast food chains annually spend about 3 billion on Television Advertising” most of this advertising is reared toward Children (Schlosser 47). The nations growing popularity of the fast food industry has sparked the interests of investors from around the world. The fast food industries have formed marketing alliances with toy companies, sports leagues, and Hollywood film producers. Schlosser shows their proven success by their annual turnover rate of 300 – 400 percent. Although there may be many causes for the franchises confirmed success, the most important aspect of their marketing scheme is “obedience” (Schlosser 75). Schlosser’s goal is to help change the way Americans think about what they eat. Many Americans are astonished at the fact that those “who ate a fast food meal at least twice a week were at least 10 pounds fatter than those who ate fast food less than once a week” in a 15 year long survey conducted by Pereira and five other researchers (Scheck). Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the American Meal is set up to help the typical American understand where their food comes from, and how it can harm their health, and well-being. In the non-fictional work, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal, Eric Schlosser in an informative and objective tone, counters the vast amounts of fast food marketing geared at children, and shows how the food they eat affects society, including how it’s made, and how it can harm their health, through his use of deductive reasoning, logical persuasion, and structure.
Although Fast Food Nation is Eric Schlosser’s first book, his credentials and Ethos are widely known by the journalist community. According to Houghton Mifflin, Eric Schlosser has been the correspondent for the Atlantic monthly since 1996. Fast Food Nation began as a 2 part article for a magazine, and turned into a widely known and ground breaking book. Due to its wide popularity Schlosser’s book has been translated into 20 languages, and its wide international acceptance has contributed to Schlosser’s success. In order to successfully write Fast Food Nation, Schlosser spent 2 years researching the fast food industry, contacting the head of manufacturing of meatpacking factories, taking first had tours of cattle fields, factories, and workers, and interviews with past and present fast food employees. In addition, Schlosser changed his diet radically, consuming a large amount of fast food to truly understand the fast food industries affect on the public at a personal level. While Schlosser’s first book showed highly successful, his second and third book proved to be no different. Schlosser’s second book, Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, became a New York Times best seller in 2003 following a similar writing style as Fast Food Nation. His third book also became a best seller in 2006. Thus showing how Schlosser’s non-fiction writing style demonstrates his credibility and effective ability to interpret large amounts of data and turn it into readable material for the average American.
Schlosser begins Fast Food Nation, by setting up context on how the fast food empire became what it is today. Schlosser points out that in 1937, Richard and Mawrice McDonald opened a drive in restaurant, and that the automobile was the breakthrough in transportation providing a convenience for the average American. Schlosser also describes how the Baby boom worked alongside the automobile increase and the fast food franchise take-off. Schlosser argues all the strategies used to put together a fast food franchise including, “the labor practices of the fast food industry have their origins in the assembly line” (Schlosser 68). Also, Schlosser argues that fast food employees from management to factory workers are treated poorly, and are exposed to hazardous chemicals, and to unsanitary working conditions. Schlosser later moves into the topic of safety, and how fast food workers deal with dangerous conditions. Schlosser points out that “roughly 4 or 5 fast food workers are murdered on the job every month (Schlosser 83). A different and more personal topic concerning fast food is its health. A majority of people in the United States eat fast food at least once a week or several times a month. Although the food may be tasty, it is harmful to your health and with an increase in saturated fat, and preservatives, fast food in excess will lead to overweight and obesity. According to the US surgeon general, “61% of adults in the United States were overweight or obese in 1999”, and “Approximately 300,000 deaths each year in the United States may be attributable to obesity”. It is believed that “it will take a massive public health effort” to help a nation in need (Scheck). In addition, many people find humor in the matter of public Health. In Figure 1(Fast Food Cartoon 7 - Catalog Reference For0157), the artist is poking fun at how the American diet has become so “junk” oriented, and that at the dentist’s office, the dentist pulled out an exhaust pipe representing the filth the overweight patient has been eating.
According the Centers for Disease control, from 1991 to 2003 there has been a drastic rise in the obesity levels of Americans. Based on figure 2 (Obesity Trends Among US Adults CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 1991 – 2003), in 1991, about 10-14 percent of US adults are considered obese, and the rise continued in 1996 to the average of 15 – 19 percent obese. Finally, the most drastic rise occurred when the survey was completed in 2003, revealing that about 20-24 percent of US adults are obese, and the fast food industry can be held accountable for this steep rise.
Schlosser also utilizes deductive reasoning through the entire book, and individually in each chapter and topic, as he leads from a general premise to more and more specific examples. Fast Food Nation for the most part starts off with general history, and leads to the later sections of the book with more specific accounts of the industry. With each topic, Schlosser leads off with general history, and then continues with specific examples. An example of this is when Schlosser describes a slaughter house he visited during his research. The chapter starts off by describing the journey to the factory, then leads into describing the slaughter house giving time to detail in describing the temperature of 40 degrees. As Schlosser travels through the factory his amount of detail increases, where by the time he is on the kill flour, he describes the site as, “I see: a man reach inside cattle and pull out their kidneys with his bare hands… we wade through blood that’s ankle deep and that pours down drains…as we approach the start of the line, for the first time I hear the steady pop, pop, pop of live animals being stunned” (Schlosser 170).
In addition, Schlosser goes into great detail and covers every aspect of marketing to reveal the fast food franchises hidden motives. Schlosser uncovers that “the aroma of food can be responsible for as much as 90 percent of its flavor” (Schlosser 122). This psychological play is critical to the fast food industries continued success by bringing back the customer, and Schlosser shows that. Also Schlosser makes historical references to a well known muckraker book written by Upton Sinclair during progressivism. The Jungle (1906), describes the horrors in many different types of factories including slaughter houses, amputations, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and severe injuries to display how the food Americans eat is not clean. Sinclair’s book caused congress to enact food and safety legislation. This Historical allusion, which Schlosser creates, is very crucial and important to his argument, because The Jungle is very similar to Fast Food Nation, and Schlosser showed the importance of speaking out against the powerful fast food corporations by displaying the foods filth and contamination.
Further more, Schlosser’s use of logos is vast, and his applications of statistics and facts are numerous. Through the book, hundreds of statistics are used to strengthen his argument. When describing the high rate of injury in the slaughter houses, Schlosser mentions a startling statistic; saying that every year, “roughly 40,000 men and women suffer an injury or work related illness that requires medical attention beyond first aid” (Schlosser 172). The accounts mentioned are brutal including arms taken off by machines, and workers being infected by hurtful chemicals and bacteria. Schlosser uses multiple statistics to enhance the imagery of a toxic and unsanitary work area along with the dirty food which comes from it, and how the food was handled improperly by underpaid illegal workers.
In opposition to Schlosser is the large number of people who will stand against him, and argue whether or not his claims are valid. While these people may be in partial conflict, many argue that the fast food corporations have brought convenience to the fast paced life of those all over the world, and that numerous fast food franchises have lighter alternatives for the customer. The fast food industry has saved precious time for all sorts of people, including those in the workplace, school, and even in the car. The fast food industry has made their customers slowly forget about the mess oriented with their kitchen, and the hassle it takes to prepare food, when time is of the essence. The convenience of the fast food industry is one that the consumers don’t mind, and are willing to give up the hassle of homemade meals, for the convenience of an easy fast food chain. In addition, the fast food industry, due to some criticism of their unhealthy meal plans, have offered lighter alternatives. Burger king offers “great new choices here include the Whopper Junior Sandwich (290 calories) and a BK Veggie Burger with reduced-fat mayo (340 calories)”, all to bring in more customers and keep the existing customers (Hammock). All the popular fast food chains offer meals which are healthier and have fewer calories, and less fat. These chains have now added low-fat smoothies to the drink menu, in an attempt to keep all their customers and make their restaurant feel as if no customer is left out. Thus the fast food corporations have kept all their demographics in mind to ensure customer satisfaction.
In addition to the industries lighter menus and convenience, the franchises have now improved working conditions, and have limited their marketing strategies toward children. Schlosser himself notes the improved working conditions of factory workers in slaughter houses since the opening of them decades ago. “Health insurance is now offered to workers after 6 months on the job; vacation pay after a year” to help the factories keep their employees (Schlosser 160). Also through federal legislation regarding the health of workers, all workers in slaughter houses must be properly clothed and wear the necessary protective clothing. Government agencies now inspect meat regularly for Escherichia Coli and other harmful bacterium. In terms of marketing towards children, Schlosser runs into partial conflict, due to the federal legislation which has been passed. From the Center for Science in the Public Interest newsroom, the (CSPI) “released new Guidelines for Responsible Food Marketing to Children, which call on food manufacturers, broadcasters, restaurants, movie studios, and schools to reform the way drinks, snacks, fast-food meals, and other foods are marketed to kids”. This legislation must be followed by the entirety of the fast food industry, and is designed to protect the nation’s children from the strikingly vast reach of the fast food industry. Still, Schlosser argues that there is little legislation done to protect children, and that the fast food industry has too strong of a grip on children. Although there may be a partial dispute between whether or not the fast food industry has a tight grip on children, the debate is endless, because one can truly never evaluate the effectiveness of marketing strategies employed by powerful corporations on children.
Schlosser is 100 percent correct regarding the influence of the fast food industry on all aspects of society around the world, from how and why people eat unhealthy food to how it will affect our daily life. The argument that the meat in slaughter houses is not clean is relevant to the speed at which the workers must work, and the commonality of dropping meat on the floor, where “they [workers] sometimes forget that this meat will eventually be eaten. They drop the meat on the floor and then place it right back on the conveyer belt” (Schlosser 203). Schlosser also points out that the entire marketing strategies of the food corporations is to market as young as possible and carry on the “cradle-to-grave” advertising strategies along with brand loyalty (Schlosser 43). In addition to brand loyalty, almost a monopoly of the fast food industry, McDonalds has committed to their customers from the beginning, and as many people think of it, the fifty white stars have been replaced by a pair of golden arches. Therefore, through the United States rise in fast food consumption, “no other country in history has gotten so fat so fast” (Schlosser 240).
"Eric Schlosser." March 17, 2008 .
History and Bio of Eric Schlosser, offering a historical reference to his written works starting with his first non-fiction work: Fast Food Nation. Schlosser’s Bio offers his latest books written and his purpose for writing his non-fiction works.
"Fast Food Cartoon 7 - Catalog Reference For0157." Cartoon. Fast Food Cartoons. 17 Mar. 2008 .
Figure 1displays how the American Fast food industry has been feeding “junk”, and in the cartoon, a man is at the dentists and the dentist comments " It's just as I expected...you've been eating too much junk food!"
Galson, Steven. "Overweight and Obesity: What You Can Do." March 17, 2008 .
Document offers a statistical analysis of Obesity in America, with the lack of physical activity in the United States. In addition, the document offers possible options for Americans gaining physical activity and its benefits.
"Guidelines for Marketing Food to Kids Proposed." 19, March, 2008 .
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today released new Guidelines for Responsible Food Marketing to Children, which call on food manufacturers, broadcasters, restaurants, movie studios, and schools to reform the way drinks, snacks, fast-food meals, and other foods are marketed to kids.
Hammock, Delia. "Finally...Fast Food That's Actually Good for You." March 17, 2008 .
Site offers information regarding healthy food offered at fast food chains around the country. Hammock offers ways to eat healthier at fast food joints.
"Obesity Trends* Among US Adults CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 1991 - 2003." Chart. Obesity in America. 19 Mar. 2008 .
Figure 2 offers obesity statistics, displaying a chart showing the obesity increase in the United States, from 1991 – 2003.
Scheck, Tom. "Study: Eat fast food, get fat and sick." March 17, 2008 .
Scientific study which proposes that fast food makes you fat, and sick. A study found that a regular fast-food diet raised the risk factors for type two diabetes, which is linked to obesity.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
Fast Food Nation discussed the methods used by the fast food industry to lour their customers in to buy their food. Schlosser described all the aspects that go into creating a simple hamburger, from the slaughter houses to the actual fast food restaurant.