First published in 2001, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal is not a new book, but I am finally getting around to reading it because it seems to come up frequently in the bibliographies of food writers active in the locavore movement.
Much of the book takes me back to the required high school reading of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle – I came close to having a panic attack after reading the sections that deal with meat processing. But there is much more to digest (ha ha) in this journalistic exploration of how fast food has changed not only the American diet, but also our landscape, our ways of doing business, and our treatment of nature and each other.
I’ve been convinced for a few years now that buying locally grown, seasonal produce and humanely treated, sustainably raised animal products are the way to go for the health benefits to the body and for the health of our soil and our souls, but for anyone waiting to be convinced, Fast Food Nation is a great place to start the process. Schlosser writes in an easily understandable style and mixes statistics fluidly with more personal narratives of the people he encounters on his journey to the origins and impact of “the All-American Meal.”