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Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know about Fast Food

by and

Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know about Fast Food Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Pull open the glass door and feel the rush of cool air. Step inside. Look at the backlit color pictures of food above the counter, look at the cardboard ads for the latest Disney movie, get in line, and place your order. Hand over some money. Put the change back in your pocket. Watch teenagers in blue-and- gold uniforms busy working in the kitchen. Moments later, grab the plastic tray with your food, find an empty table, and sit down. Unwrap the burger, squirt ketchup on the fries, stick the plastic straw through the hole in the lid of your drink. Pick up the burger and dig in.

The whole experience of eating at a fast-food restaurant has become so familiar, so routine, that we take it for granted. It has become just another habit, like brushing your teeth before bed. We do it without even thinking about itand#8212;and thatand#8217;s the problem.

Every day about one out of fourteen Americans eats at a McDonaldand#8217;s. Every month about nine out of ten American children visit one. McDonaldand#8217;s has become the most popular fast-food chain in the worldand#8212;and by far the most powerful. In 1968 there were about 1,000 McDonaldand#8217;s restaurants, all of them in the United States. Now there are more than 31,000 McDonaldand#8217;s, selling Happy Meals in 120 countries, from Istanbul, Turkey, to Papeete, Tahiti. In the United States, McDonaldand#8217;s buys more processed beef, chicken, pork, apples, and potatoes than any other company. It spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other company that sells food. As a result, it is Americaand#8217;s most famous food brand. The impact of McDonaldand#8217;s on the way we live today is truly mind-boggling. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross.

Despite McDonaldand#8217;s fame and all the money it spends on advertising, every day the vast majority of its customers donand#8217;t plan to eat there. Most fast-food visits are impulsive. The decision to buy fast food is usually made at the last minute, without much thought. People generally donand#8217;t leave the house in the morning saying, and#8220;Iand#8217;m going to make sure to eat some fast food today.and#8221; Most of the time, theyand#8217;re just walking down the sidewalk or driving down the road, not thinking about anything in particular. Maybe theyand#8217;re hungry; maybe theyand#8217;re not. Maybe theyand#8217;re in a hurry and donand#8217;t have time to cook. And then they see a great big fast-food signand#8212;the Golden Arches, the red-and-blue of a Dominoand#8217;s pizza box, the picture of Colonel Sandersand#8212;and they suddenly think, and#8220;Hey, I want some of that.and#8221; So they stop to eat fast food. They do it because they feel like it. They just canand#8217;t resist the impulse.

The point of this book is to take that strong impulse we all feeland#8212; our hunger for sweet, salty, fatty fast foodsand#8212;and make you think about it. Chew On This will tell you where fast food comes from, who makes it, whatand#8217;s in it, and what happens when you eat it. This is a book about fast food and the world it has made.

Food is one of the most important things youand#8217;ll ever buy. And yet most people never bother to think about their food and where it comes from. People spend a lot more time worrying about what kind of blue jeans to wear, what kind of video games to play, what kind of computers to buy. They compare the different models and styles, they talk to friends about the various options, they read as much as they can before making a choice. But those purchases donand#8217;t really matter. When you get tired of old blue jeans, video games, and computers, you can just give them away or throw them out.

The food you eat enters your body and literally becomes part of you. It helps determine whether youand#8217;ll be short or tall, weak or strong, thin or fat. It helps determine whether you will enjoy a long, healthy life or die young. Food is of fundamental importance. So why is it that most people donand#8217;t think about fast food and donand#8217;t know much about it?

The simple answer is this: the companies that sell fast food donand#8217;t want you to think about it. They donand#8217;t want you to know where it comes from and how itand#8217;s made. They just want you to buy it.

Have you ever seen a fast-food ad that shows the factories where French fries are made? Ever seen a fast-food ad that shows the slaughterhouses where cattle are turned into ground beef? Ever seen an ad that tells you whatand#8217;s really in your fast-food milk shake and why some strange-sounding chemicals make it taste so good? Ever seen an ad that shows overweight, unhealthy kids stuffing their faces with greasy fries at a fast-food restaurant? You probably havenand#8217;t. But youand#8217;ve probably seen a lot of fast-food commercials that show thin, happy children having a lot of fun.

People have been eating since the beginning of time. But theyand#8217;ve only been eating Chicken McNuggets since 1983. Fast food is a recent invention. During the past thirty years, fast food has spread from the United States to every corner of the globe. A busssssiness that began with a handful of little hot dog and hamburger stands in southern California now sells the all- American mealand#8212;a hamburger, French fries, and sodaand#8212;just about everywhere. Fast food is now sold at restaurants and drive-throughs, at baseball stadiums, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, and airplanes, at Kmarts, Wal-Marts, and even the cafeterias of childrenand#8217;s hospitals. In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food. In 2005, they spent about $134 billion on fast food. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on college education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, and recorded musicand#8212; combined.

Fast food may look like the sort of food people have always eaten, but itand#8217;s different. Itand#8217;s not the kind of food you can make in your kitchen from scratch. Fast food is something radically new. Indeed, the food we eat has changed more during the past thirty years than during the previous thirty thousand years.

In the pages that follow, youand#8217;ll learn how the fast-food business got started. Youand#8217;ll learn how the fast-food chains try to get kids into their restaurants, how they treat kids working in their kitchens, how they make their food. And youand#8217;ll learn what can happen when you eat too much of it. These are things you really need to know. Why? Because fast food is heavily advertised to kids and often prepared by workers who are kids themselves. This is an industry that both feeds and feeds off the young.

For the most part, fast food tastes pretty good. Thatand#8217;s one of the main reasons people like to eat it. Fast food has been carefully designed to taste good. Itand#8217;s also inexpensive and convenient. But the Happy Meals, two- for-one deals, and free refills of soda give a false sense of how much fast food actually costs. The real price never appears on the menu.

Hundreds of millions of people eat fast food every day without giving it much thought. They just unwrap their hamburgers and dig in. An hour or so later, when the burgerand#8217;s all gone and the wrapperand#8217;s been tossed into the garbage, the whole meal has already been forgotten. Chew on this: people should know what lies beneath the shiny, happy surface of every fast-food restaurant. They should know what really lurks between those sesame seed buns. As the old saying goes: you are what you eat.

CHEW ON THIS: EVERYTHING YOU DONand#8217;T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT FAST FOOD by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. Copyright (c) 2006 by Eric Schlosser. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

ASalinas96, February 25, 2009 (view all comments by ASalinas96)
I thought It was a very good book ,I learned a lot of things that I didn't know... and some I wish I hadn't at all.
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(5 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)
lolor13, June 21, 2007 (view all comments by lolor13)
"Chew on This" was a great yet disturbing book on how sickening our nation and even world is. McDonalds and other chains are EVERYWHERE. The worst part is the McDonalds started out just a small town restraunt. Read it to learn more. I am proud to say I am now a vegitarian.
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(21 of 38 readers found this comment helpful)
TennisMe2, September 21, 2006 (view all comments by TennisMe2)
As disheartening as "Chew On This " was, it read like a page turner thriller. I couldn't put it down. I am heart sick at the treatment of fast food animals in this country and had no idea this was going on. I rarely eat at fast food chains, mostly on a rare occasion to get a coffee or a fast food breakfast. Perhaps twice a year. A boycott from me would hardly be effective, but none the less that's what I indtend to do. Thank you Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson for opening my eyes.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780618710317
Subtitle:
te, and How There's More of Less to Eat Around the World
Author:
Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson
Illustrator:
Wartella, M.
Author:
Schlosser, Eric
Author:
Frydenborg, Kay
Author:
Castaldo, Nancy
Author:
Wilson, Charles
Publisher:
HMH Books for Young Readers
Location:
Boston
Subject:
General
Subject:
Food industry and trade
Subject:
Fast food restaurants
Subject:
General Juvenile Nonfiction
Subject:
Health & Daily Living - Diet & Nutrition
Subject:
Health - Diet & Nutrition
Subject:
Cooking
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
May 2006
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Full-color illustrations
Pages:
144
Dimensions:
8 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 12

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Related Subjects

Business » Management
Children's » Activities » Cooking
Children's » Nonfiction » Current Affairs
Children's » Nonfiction » Health » Diet and Nutrition
Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » Children's Health
Young Adult » Nonfiction » Living
Young Adult » Nonfiction » Teen Issues

Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know about Fast Food Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 144 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618710317 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The author of Fast Food Nation partners with Wilson to serve up a stinging, often startling expos on this country's pervasive, lucrative fast-food industry, for young people. The book's scope is exhaustive and sometimes exhausting, starting with a history of the hamburger, the advent of drive-in restaurants and the debut and mushrooming of McDonald's. The text dwells on this chain's effective if manipulative marketing campaigns aimed at children, noting that its outlets disperse more than 1.5 billion toys annually. The book also covers the plight of fast-food restaurant workers; the steep mark-up on fast-food items; the low nutritional value of many school cafeteria menus featuring fast food; and the fast-food industry's ample contribution to America's obesity epidemic. Making for sometimes unpleasant though undeniably edifying reading is a lengthy account of how the animals that provide fast food meats are fed, slaughtered and processed. In some cases, the subtitle's promise comes through in inadvertent ways, as the narrative provides perhaps an overabundance of details. But in the end, Schlosser and Wilson leave readers with a powerful suggestion that 'the solution starts with you,' urging them to consider the ramifications of placing an order at a fast-food counter, thereby setting into motion 'the ripple effect near and far.' Many who have digested the information dished out here will do as the convincing authors hope: head for the exit. Copious endnotes document sources of statistics and statements. Ages 11-13." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Chew on This, written in a brisk, accessible style, combines digestible nuggets of history, present-day anecdotes about individuals that teens may be able to relate to, and statistics that capture the startling size of the fast-food problem....Chew On This puts a nice, empowering spin on the old Burger King jingle, 'Have it your way.'...[T]his should be required fare before the next lunch bell rings." (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
"Review" by , "Readers may not lose their appetites for McFood from this compelling study, but they will definitely come away less eager to get a McJob and more aware of the diet's attendant McMedical problems."
"Review" by , "Readers may not lose their appetites for McFood from this compelling study, but they will definitely come away less eager to get a McJob and more aware of the diet's attendant McMedical problems."
"Review" by , "From the 37-day life of the pre-McNugget chicken to the appallingly inhumane conditions of slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants....Equally disturbing is his revelation of the way that the fast-food giants have studied childhood behavior...to hook the youngest consumers."
"Synopsis" by ,
Aand#160;fascinating accountand#160;for teen readersand#160;thatand#160;captures the history, science, and economic and cultural implications of the harvesting of cacao and creation of chocolate. Readers of Chew On This and The Omnivore's Dilemma will savor this rich exposand#233;.
"Synopsis" by ,
Something as small as a seed can have a world-wide impact.and#160;From Iraq to India to an impenetrable seed vault in a Norwegian mountainside, this book speaks to the current ways we think about our food , the more thoughtful and philosophical questions about regulating which crops farmers are allowed to grow, and what consumers are able to eat. Readers will discover just how important seeds are to the functioning of our global economy--and how much power we as a world-wide community have to keep seeds around, because once a seed disappears, itand#39;s gone forever. Nonfiction for agesand#160;10 to 14.

"Synopsis" by ,
Chocolate hits all the right sweet--and bitter--notes: cutting-edge genetic science whisked in with a strong social conscience, history, and culture yield one thought-provoking look into one of the world's most popular foods. Readers who savored Chew on This and Food, Inc. and lovers of chocolate will relish this fascinating read.
"Synopsis" by ,
In the New York Times bestseller Chew on This, Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson unwrap the fast-food industry to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at a business that both feeds and feeds off the young. Find out what really goes on at your favorite restaurants—and what lurks between those sesame seed buns.

Praised for being accessible, honest, humorous, fascinating, and alarming, Chew On This was also repeatedly referred to as a must-read for kids who regularly eat fast food. Having all the facts about fast food helps young people make healthy decisions about what they eat. Chew On This shows them that they can change the world by changing what they eat.

Chew on This also includes action steps, a discussion guide, and a new afterword by the authors.

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