I found cows in a book, and it’s not a children’s book

A few days ago I mentioned that I started reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, a fascinating book on “the dark side of the all-American meal”.

Fast Food Nation book by Eric Schlosser

Fast Food Nation book by Eric Schlosser

I’m half way through the book and I’ve learned more about the fast food business than I ever imagined. This includes the history of Carl Jr’s, McDonald’s, Subway, and other successful fast food restaurants. I had no idea Ray Kroc was such a driven, but arrogant businessman, who liked to call his critics “sons of bitches”… I also learned the dirt behind fast food employment and the companies’ blatant lack of respect for labor laws and employee rights. I’ve also found out the reasons why French fries taste so good and their increasing production drives many potato farmers out of business every year.

Each chapter of the book starts with a black and white photo illustrating the theme of the chapter. This afternoon I got to read the section called “On the Range”, and this is the photo used for it:

Cow cattle photo in Fast Food Nation book

Cow cattle photo in Fast Food Nation book

Just like potato farmers, many ranchers go bankrupt every year, not being able to keep up with the fixed low price of hamburger meat.

One more interesting fact I learned so far is that there is little difference between natural and artificial flavoring. Both are made of the same chemicals (molecules), only differing by the process used to obtain them. One scientist calls natural flavoring the “outdated technology”, explaining its higher price. Both flavorings are even manufactured inside the same plants – how ironic is that? The chapter on flavoring made me relax about artificial flavors, especially when I realize how wrong everything else is with fast food…


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