To say this book is a modern-day, Sinclair-esque muckraking piece would be an understatement: the feedback from this book created waves, if not tsunamis, in activism communities for food safety, health, epidemiology, environmentalism, animal rights, workers' rights, union solidarity... the list goes on and on. With the invigorated response from these communities also came a lot of backlash: the top agricultural and fast food corporations criticized the author widely and quite aggressively.
A lot of people became interested in contemporary fast food industry muckraking as the American public became increasingly concerned with the changes in society created by the fast food industry, as did I, when I saw Robert Kenner's Food, Inc.
(which is a great movie, by the way).
However, I stumbled upon this book quite by accident: I have Amazon Prime and I hadn't borrowed a Lending Library book for a while, and this was one of the eligible books.
I was afraid this would be one of the books that would continually rant about the obesity epidemic which, though it's a huge
issue, doesn't interest me enough to warrant reading two hundred-odd pages on it. Luckily for me, though, it wasn't.
This book expanded into many other topics: obesity, food safety, public response to the fast food industry, the roots of the fast food industry, the international impact thereof, and many others that span all sorts of fields. And that was the problem for some readers: this book tried to criticize too much and didn't offer much of a balanced view on the very many issues.
For me, though, Schlosser laid out the issues clearly. Maybe it's a matter of agreeing with him or not -- but it wasn't as if Schlosser tried to hide the stance his piece takes on the fast food industry: it's right there in the title. And it was obvious he did his research.
I was thinking about the oft-rhetorical, written-like-a-Time-magazine-article tone Schlosser takes and, though I personally enjoyed it, whether that detracted from the factual nature of the topics he broached. Schlosser addresses this in the parting words in an updated afterword:
"After finishing [this] book, some readers never visit a fast food restaurant again. Others still enjoy their Big Macs. Either way, the decisions are a conscious choice, not just an instinctive response to mass marketing."
Ultimately, that's the purpose of this book: not to make people change their minds about lifestyle choices or boycott every McDonald's on every Main Street in every town in every country, not to lash back with ad hominem criticism towards people who agree or disagree with his views, but to present his research in an accessible (because what pseudo-journalism writing style isn't
accessible?) and smooth manner to as wide of an audience as possible. For me, Schlosser does that and puts his book in the four-stars.