Fast Food Nation describes the “Dark Side of the All-American Meal,” which is what the book’s cover says. Many themes can be seen when reading and analyzing this text. Themes include diet, nutrition, food safety, “the goodlife” and work. The nonfiction book expresses the themes through quotes, plots and symbols. Schlosser made statements describing the American industry’s engulfment and its gradual takeover, using symbols and quotes.
Fast Food Nation addressed the topics of nutrition, diet, and safety. These fried, greasy foods are referred to as one America’s cultural icons. Fast food isn’t the healthiest choice. The quote at page 262 is an example of this. “Moreover a such a banning would encourage fast food chain to alter the recipes in their children’s menus.” The book says that reducing the fat in Happy Meals could immediately affect the diet of children across the country. McDonald’s serves more than 90% of American children every month. Some food products, like meat, may not be prepared correctly or produced in the right way. This can cause harm to consumers.
The author described a case where a boy aged eleven got sick from eating burgers in his school’s cafeteria. The meat from Bauer Meat Company was delivered to this school and tested. E. Coli 0157:H7 was confirmed. The USDA found that the place where meat packing took place was filthy and shut down the facility.
This seemed to be a more dominant theme throughout the book. It seems that this is reflected in the food chains today who are releasing new menu items and Americans rush to buy them without thinking twice about what they might contain.
A second theme of the book is that businesses feed consumers and also feed from them. The author describes how industry manipulates its customers to their advantage. Corporations wanted to earn money and made farmers work harder to get by. After a long period of hard work, but little reward, a farmer committed suicide. “The suicide risk among ranchers is approximately three times that of the national rate”. Farmers were trying to achieve their “bottomline”. This greed did not come only from green bills that they received in exchange of work, products, or TV shows. “In 1972 Kroc contributed $250,000 for President Nixon’s campaign to re-elect him. The money was divided into smaller gifts and distributed through Republican state and local committees”. He seemed to be doing this for both of them in order to promote their businesses and help the two benefit from each other. The bottom line, greed and corporations are three themes that describe one of the darkest aspects of our industry. Fast food companies should not be associated with these negative aspects. These corporations do no more than want the green pile when they are done. They are only doing it for themselves, to boost their confidence and encourage them.
While working in these companies, they really highlight the “good life.” Is it a good or bad life? It was the theme of “the Good Life” that showed some of its darkest aspects. This documentary showed the dark side of food production in America, including the many deaths. These workers lose limbs. They have low morale because of drugs. And they are treated like a bunch of animals. Some members are replaced after a certain event. Some are forced to the point where they can’t stand it anymore. The same man, who worked at a slaughterhouse, was continually put to the test. He was physically unable to handle the stress once he had finished his work. Kenny struggles to keep it together. “‘They were so abusive to me that I didn’t have any body parts left.’ He was once a powerful and strong man, but now he struggles to work, gets tired easily and feels like his life is over. He’s just forty-five”. It’s not just his body that has been affected. He also feels that he doesn’t deserve it, because he did everything for something which didn’t return anything but a crippled, unsettling mind. Families of workers also benefit from this “good life”. Many parents work multiple jobs to feed their family. Although they work in food service companies, they do not get much back for their efforts. The families are working so hard that the teens have to pay for these bills. “… The kids of today appear to be poorer than they ever were. In many low income families, the father would work while the mother would raise the kids. The reality is that there are no parents at home, and both work hard to support their families. No one is home, which can lead to a lack of rules and restrictions. Teens might use substances like alcohol or drugs to cope. The same goes for those kids who live alone and are looking for something to do to keep themselves busy. Page 80 states, “teenage boys working longer hours have a higher risk of developing substance abuse problems or committing petty crimes.”
The author explained many details in order to illustrate the theme of his story. This industry has a wide range of effects on our country. The food we eat in America is increasingly fatty, oily, and easy to grab. Increased sales and the greed of power affects those who work in the industry. America’s workers have to endure a lot in order to receive the minimum they deserve. Fast food is one of America’s darkest secrets, and most people don’t know about it. But that needs to change.