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Book Reviews Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Sometimes I think that I should never have read this book, as there is a lot of bliss in simple ignorance. If I would never have known the facts about the fast food industry, I never would have cared about it. However, the facts that are presented in this book, will make any consumer think twice before eating another Big Mac.

Introduction
I have always known that fast food is bad for you, and that there’s really no good benefit to eating food that comes out of these restaurants. However, before reading this book, I never truly understood just how bad it could possibly be.

However, realizing the conditions inside of slaughterhouses, what cattle are fed, and some of the things that are done in order to make our food taste better, there’s no way that I would feed fast food to my child. I have already started to change my diet around. I don’t eat at fast food restaurants all that often, but after reading this book, I think that I’m going to lower that substantially more.

What happens with your beef?
Have you ever wondered how beef could possibly be so cheap in fast food restaurants, well, you better think twice before you continue reading. Some of the things that you are about to read will truly change your opinion on fast food, and will make you completely reconsider ever eating it again.

The cattle operations that companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and the many other major hamburger companies use, are much different than what we would assume. They are very poorly regulated companies, that raise their cattle in horrible conditions. The cows that are kept in these places are forced into small cages, where they aren’t to do anything but eat, and pretty much just stand in place. By keeping them from moving, it eliminates most of the muscle, which gives food a bad flavor, and they fatten up much faster, given a quicker turnaround time from baby cow, to beef cow.

In order to bulk up the cattle, these companies, feed their cows, cats, dogs, other cows, newspapers, chicken by-products, and a variety of other things. By doing this, the cows quickly bulk up, to be turned over much faster. The cats, dogs, and cows that are ground up and fed to the cattle, are generally ones that are mutated, have growth issues, retardation, and genetic disorders. They are generally ground up, fur on, bones and all, and fed to the cattle in a grain, newspaper, and meat mixture that is extremely low cost to the cattle farm as it’s almost all product they picked up from recycling plants, leftovers from chicken farms, and from their own horrible breeding programs.

Just the thought of what could go wrong from feeding the cows these other highly degraded animals, just blows my mind. It can’t be healthy for the cow to consume this first of all, and for us to consume that cow after they consumed these sorts of items, is just horrible.

Workers Conditions
Many of these cattle farms, also hire a great deal of migrant workers, many of which aren’t legal in the United States. Because they know little else, and really don’t have any legal remedy as they aren’t allowed to work in this country anyway, they have to work and do whatever they are told, just to earn enough money to feed their families.

Employees are paid extremely low wages, enough to keep them working, but not enough for them to be able to leave easily. There are no benefits for a large majority of the workers, as they essentially have no rights in this country anyway. They are forced into working long hours, verbally abused, and aren’t given the proper protective equipment that they need to protect themselves from E-Coli, and other bacterial infections. As such many of them end up getting illnesses related to the cattle industry. Not to mention these people who are becoming sick are working with the meat, that we will ultimately consume.

French fries are good, right?
While the beef is horrible alone, the fries are somewhat disgusting as well. I will admit that McDonald’s has some of the best tasting french fries around and for great reason. McDonald’s for years has been experimenting with chemicals that are added to their french fries in order to give them extra flavor. These chemicals are made from totally man-made ingredients, which can’t be good for the body. This is done with a wide variety of deep fried foods, in order to make the oil more flavorful, so that the food can taste that much better. While not as horrible of an issue as the beef, I would rather not have to worry about the end result of consuming large amounts of these chemicals. I’d much rather consume all natural ingredients and I really don’t want my children having to consume these horrible man-made ingredients.

The Book
The book really goes into great deal about the food industry, from some of it’s history, to some of the cattle farms that were picked. In the book they talk about a cattle farmer that originally had contracts with major restaurants, but because of his high quality feeding programs, and healthy cattle breeding, his meat prices were much higher than other cattle farms. Thus, these newer, cheaper cattle farming alternatives, began to gain all of the business of the thrifty restaurants, all trying to compete on price, needing a much cheaper alternative for beef.

Other great things about the book include some of the stories about how the industry has grown and who has been pushed out of the way as trends have changed. The need for these companies to sell a lower cost item, has forced them to find cheaper alternatives for beef and flavoring, which has ultimately affected the quality of the food that we are served.

Overview
I don’t know about you, but after knowing about what is in the beef that I consume, I no longer want to have a piece of the McDonald’s pie. While I personally think that these conditions are horrible and will not support a company that treats animals and people this way or supports those acts, I know that there’s not a whole lot being done to resolve the issue.

I just hope that this review goes to help educate consumers as to the horrors of what they are actually eating. The book itself is definitely highly suggested to anyone that actually cares about what they are consuming and feeding to their children. It will definitely open your eyes to the fast food industry and change your opinion about the industry forever.