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Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser - Essay Example

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Eric Schlosser’s 2001 book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal looks at America’s obsession with fast food – an obsession that Schlosser says is killing us. He discusses fast food’s impact on American’s bodies, economy, and way of life. Throughout…
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Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
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Storytelling and Eric Schlosser Eric Schlosser’s 2001 book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal looks at America’s obsession with fast food – an obsession that Schlosser says is killing us. He discusses fast food’s impact on American’s bodies, economy, and way of life. Throughout the book, he uses storytelling as a way to convey thousands of facts and figures he has uncovered throughout his research. By conveying complicated information to readers as part of a seemingly uncomplicated story, the material is easier to understand and more enjoyable to read.
The first story Schlosser shares comes in the introduction to the book. He opens by setting a scene in the desert at a place where “the mountain appears beautiful and serene” and “like the backdrop of an old Hollywood western.” (1). As he unfolds the scene, he explains that this is actually Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station , one of the most armed and heavily protected spots in the nation since it is home to the U.S. military’s spy satellite program. Yet nearly every night, someone from the station orders Domino’s pizza and has it delivered to the base’s front door. As Schlosser ends his first story with an explanation of what future archeologists might find buried in the mountain centuries from now: “Burger King wrappers, hardened crusts of Cheesy Bread, Barbeque Wing bones, and the red, white and blue of a Domino’s pizza box.” (2)
This reads like a child’s bedtime story. The reader hears this beautifully described story of a mountain fortress designed to protect the nation while it sleeps. The Domino’s delivery person “winds his way up the lonely Cheyenne Mountain Road” (2) the way Little Red Riding Hood head through the forest to Grandma’s house. Then he ends it with the moral of the story: fast food tells as much about American culture as this mountain fortress, the clothes we wear, or even the Bible. The question he is asking – and will spend the rest of the book answering – is do American’s want to be defined by the lousy food they consume? By making it a story, he draws readers in to hear the answer.
Another great example of Schlosser’s storytelling skills comes when he visits International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), a company that is the world leader in manufacturing fake smells and flavorings for food. Schlosser alternates here between describing the lab in vivid and exciting detail, and explaining the not-so-appealing biological processes that comprise a human being’s sense of smell and taste. First he takes the reader through the lab, where he sees “a dapper food technologist…carefully preparing a batch of cookies with white frosting and pink and white sprinkles” (121-122). This is followed by a paragraph explaining human taste that includes an explanation of how chewing or drinking something “releases its volatile gases” (122) and defines the olfactory epithelium.
In two pages, Schlosser gracefully switches back and forth between narrative storytelling and detailed dissection of complicated material. The reader isn’t bombarded with difficult to understand material because anything complicated that requires further explanation is weaved into the story. This makes these facts, figures and scientific information not only more interesting to read, but also understandable and memorable. This is the pattern he follows throughout Fast Food Nation and why a book with sixty-three pages of end notes can still be such a gripping read, rather than something the reader has to slog through. Read More
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