Book Review: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Thing 1 came home with a bill from the school cafeteria today. They say we owe $15, but I have never given her permission to eat that stuff, and she says she hasn’t bought anything. I hope it is an administrative error, but if it’s not I’m going to go to war. They should not be feeding my child without my knowledge. I am especially adamant about this at the moment because I just finished reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, and that book left me with serious doubts about the safety, let alone quality, of the food served through the food lunch program.

Schlosser took me on a terrifying journey through our nation’s food production system as it has been formed by the demands of the fast food industry. I don’t eat fast food, I don’t eat meat, and so in my case Schlosser was clearly preaching to the choir. . This book will not change the way I eat, but it did give me a much closer look at the beef and cattle industry than I had expected. The view was not pretty. There is poor oversight, a drive to produce a high volume of meat at unreasonable speeds, little concern for the safety of the ground beef or the safety of the workers, and an alarming rate of contamination in the final product.

As Schlosser put it:

The medical literature on the causes of food poisoning is full of euphemisms and dry scientific terms: coliform levels, aerobic plate counts, sorbitol, MacConkey agar, and so on. Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat.

The meat he is referring to is the ground beef that makes the hamburgers served at fast food restaurants and through school lunch program. This is not the sort of quality food I want my kids eating. If they want meat, I would be more than happy to bring home some grass fed beef or free range chicken. There are hunters in my family that would be proud to give us some venison to try. There is no need for my little ones to ever eat a poo-burger!

There should be no way for anyone’s little ones to be fed poo-burgers, when you get right down to it. How did our country get to the place where USDA approval meant so little? Government regulation in the face of such overwhelming lobbying is maybe doomed to failure.

You cannot trust your health to a corporation that thinks more of it’s profit margin that it does of your wellbeing. You cannot trust the government to make sure that the corporations making your food put your needs first. They do not care for us, so we must make the effort to care for ourselves.

If you want to know where your food comes from, you need to buy it as close to the source as you can. Find grocers who are willing and able to identify the sources of your meat and produce. Try local farmers markets, where you can look the farmer in the eye and ask how the chickens that laid the eggs are housed or what the cattle that are in the steaks are fed. Look for local and make your own.

I deal with Thing 1’s cafeteria bill tomorrow, but for tonight I will talk to her and explain again why her mother doesn’t want her eating the school food. I provide her with real food because I love her too much to let her eat food prepared by someone I don’t trust.

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