Lean Reviews

A review site for conservative, libertarian, center-right readers. We'll tell you what's good, what's bad, what's so-so, and what you'll like even if you have to stumble past liberal tropes to get to a good story

Nonfiction: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

By Allie Duzett

When my baby boy was diagnosed with peanut, dairy, egg and soy allergies, I knew my days of carefree eating was over. As I tried to figure out what we could eat that didn’t include any of those four food items, I started doing a lot of research into food.

What I’ve found has been nothing less than terrifying.

It was this quest for knowledge about food that led me to Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation (2001). I’d been meaning to check it out from the library, but kept forgetting to. I finally found it on my mother-in-law’s bookshelf while we were on vacation, and I picked it up.

The book is dense, informative, provocative. Schlosser investigates various facets of the fast food industry, examining meatpacking plants, flavor factories, and the working conditions of our nation’s burger flippers. The facts and anecdotes he presents are terrifying, horrific.

Schlosser takes every opportunity in his writing to demonize Republicans. About halfway through the book I started wondering where all the Democrats were in the story of evil fast food. Eventually I found a solitary reference to a Democrat–but then a few pages later, the “compassionate” paternalist and “liberal Democrat” Ken Monfort had transformed into an anti-union meatpacking plant owner, discarding “paternalism” and becoming–wait for it–a “pro-business Republican.”

The worst possible thing he could have become.

The edition of Fast Food Nation I picked up happened to have been printed in 2002, and contained a new afterword in which Eric Schlossel discusses his bias against Republicans, which many other readers had picked up on. He admits in the afterword that, indeed, Democrats have also been involved in the disgusting corruption that so often characterizes the modern food industry. However, there is no mention of that in the regular text of the book. It seems that Fast Food Nation is a book meant to indict the Republican Party for the crimes of corporatism–and while both parties deserve heaps of blame for the current corruption in the food industry, the fact is that conservatism, capitalism, and even political parties are arguably not the true culprits.

Arguably, one culprit is greed. And the problem that is greed would not be solved if Democrats were in charge. It would not be solved with additional regulation on food. Greedy corporations dodge the regulations they already face. And that greed would be just as present under a left-wing system of government as a right-wing one.

And arguably, the other culprits are the American people themselves. Because who is it that votes corrupt politicians into office, anyway? And who is it that’s giving these fast food companies all their money, anyway?

But no matter what you think about capitalism, conservatism, greed, people in general, or the Republican Party, if you choose to read Fast Food Nation, prepare for lots of Republican bashing.

Of all the books I’ve read on the food industry, this one was probably the most emotional, the most anti-conservative, and, unfortunately, the most boring. I would give it a two out of five stars for those reasons. If you’re interested in the information contained in the book, I would instead direct you to read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, or his In Defense of Food, which both contain much of the same information in a far less Republican-bashing way.

Allie Duzett is a conscious eater. She eats local and organic… and is a “pro-business Republican.” (Oh, the horror!)

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