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


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

"Chew on this." People in America are getting fatter by the minute and it's not solely for lack of exercise --- it's because of the food we eat. "The food we eat has changed more during the past thirty years than during the previous thirty thousand years." Because, in part, of the ease and convenience of the automobile, people can now dine on the go. In today's fast-paced, tightly scheduled culture, time is of the essence and a meal that can be held in one's hand at the wheel on the way to somewhere or one that can be prepared in three minutes or less is better and far more satisfying than a meal that takes up too much time and energy in the day.

What many people fail to realize, however, is that we are what we eat. Food that is chock full of chemicals and freeze-dried in flavor factories by the caseful may be quick to make and even quicker to consume, but it has about as much nutritional value as a cardboard box. In fact, the Bacon Double Cheeseburger, fries and Coke combo meal from McDonald's that looks so good in commercials and on billboards just might be detrimental to our health in the long run.

From the New York Times bestselling author Eric Schlosser comes a compulsively readable young adult version of the book that branded him the legendary critic of the fast food industry, FAST FOOD NATION. In true superhero fashion, Schlosser and his trusty sidekick Charles Wilson take on the evil fast food chains --- this time, in language that young adults can understand and identify with. The end result is not dry or preachy, but instead a thoroughly researched and easy-to-grasp plea to young people, imploring them to learn about nutrition and take control of their diet before it's too late.

In CHEW ON THIS, Schlosser and Wilson begin by explaining the history of the hamburger. They then describe how restaurants like McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken were born and how they grew into multi-conglomerate, often exploitative corporations. (Thankfully, they also drive home the salient fact that one of the main reasons why Burger King and the like are so popular, and so dangerous, today is because of their backhanded guerilla marketing campaigns to kids early on.) In later chapters, they reveal the true ingredients contained in fast food (the secret ingredient in strawberry flavoring is particularly disgusting…ground-up bugs!) and explain how many of these ingredients lead to Type II Diabetes, heart attacks, obesity and more.

As many young people are concerned about how their actions can affect not only themselves but also the world as a whole, Schlosser and Wilson are quick to point out the impact that the fast food industry has had on jobs, smaller businesses, and the global economy. They emphasize the importance of healthy working environments and fair treatment for workers and explain how places like McDonald's breed underpaid and overworked employees who often barely last more than three months on the job. Just as Upton Sinclair wrote in THE JUNGLE, his excellent depiction of the horrors of the meatpacking industry in Chicago, Schlosser and Wilson describe the unsafe conditions of some of the beef and chicken slaughterhouses that supply fast food restaurants with meat. Lastly, they relish in highlighting a little-known fact that many of us may not realize --- that there is a danger of poop being in the beef served at these establishments. Mmmmm.

Without a doubt, this book should be required reading in classrooms and in houses across the nation. The sad fact is that many kids will pick up a Big Mac because it tastes good (or because it's served in the cafeteria!) rather than try a salad because of its nutritional value. It is only by understanding how harmful these foods can be to their health that young people can begin to make the right choices for themselves --- and their bodies --- in the future. "Nobody is forced to buy fast food. The first step towards real change is by far the easiest. Stop buying it."

Reviewed by Alexis Burling on April 23, 2007

Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food
by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson

  • Publication Date: April 23, 2007
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • ISBN-10: 0618593942
  • ISBN-13: 9780618593941