Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Review - Chew on This by Eric Schlosser

It might be hard to swallow

I recently picked up Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser to become better versed in the horrors of fast food, so that when I was preaching to my niece about the ill effects of this garbage, I would sound credible. To my amazement I came across an abridged version that was targeted at kids: Chew on This. After reading a couple chapters of Fast Food Nation I decided to put it on hold and dig into the tween version so that I could pass it along to my niece when I was done. I must say, increasing font size, adding some pictures, and putting the word poop in some subtitles, does not a children’s book make. While I found the book interesting and informative, I’m not sure how Schlosser’s direct and unimaginative reporting style would fair with young minds, especially those addicted and in denial.

There were some pretty affecting findings in the book, none the less, as Schlosser points out that the fast food industry is feeding and feeding off of children. Not only is the majority of the marketing targeted at the youth, but children’s foods are manufactured to taste sweeter and less bitter than adult foods, often altering a child’s future tolerance to normal flavoured foods, consequently keeping them hooked on the junk food. We are also taught about the chemical labs that have the omnipotent power of flavouring foods with additives, as well as making their odours more appetizing … since we probably wouldn’t want to eat them in their unaltered state.

Schlosser enlightens us on the horrifying process by which cattle and chicken are mass produced and inhumanely treated in feedlots, for their short lives, and how the millions of pounds of waste they create can affect neighbouring water bodies and soil. Of course the common family farm doesn’t usually factor into this equation because most of them have been put out of business by approximately four huge meat packing companies that are cornering the market. Now, they aren’t the only ones that have had to close up shop, as Mom ‘n Pop restaurants all across North America have been shut down by the low prices and ‘Speedee Service System’ (Originally created by the McDonald’s brothers) of the fast food chains.

As unfortunate as all of this is, the part that strikes a chord the most with me is the slave labour that fast food creates. With ‘McJobs’ now a part of the English language, basically meaning a low-paying job that will lead to nowhere, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. Our teenagers are working until the wee hours of the morning on a school night to dish out burgers, and overseas children and teenagers are working 16 hours a day, for sometimes as little as .20 cents an hour, to make the crappy toy in a happy meal. And for what … so that we can feed the corporate monster and make ourselves, and our children sick? For Shame.

3/5 Snakes


  1. Yeah, reading stuff like this and all the PETA things can be quite disturbing....
    Especially since nothing can be done about it because not everyone will support it, so I tend to stay away from such things lol

    But, this was a very nice review!

  2. Thanks, Jessica. It can be extremely frustrating, especially when you feel ineffectual. However, I suppose I am a bit of a glutton for punishment, because I can't seem to stop myself from reading these types of books.

    A small part of me is hoping that spreading the word through outlets like this, may have an effect on at least one person. If we all changed one person's mind on important issues, we might actually have a fighting chance. But, alas, I may just be an incurable optimist.

  3. I'm lucky that where I live, I know where my food, including beef and chicken, is coming from, as it's near to me. The only way I could know more, is if I went to like an organic farm and bought it straight from them, but that's not possible at this time.

  4. That is lucky, Laina. My fiance and I have made a pact that starting three months before our wedding we will begin shopping at a local organic farmer's market. It will possibly double our grocery bill, but we think it's worth it for the health of our future children.

    If more people would start buying organic, though, the prices would surely go down a little, so I will continue to spread the news.