Fast food nation


Chmod 760
Staff member
Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. How many of you have read that book?

I read it .. it is disturbingly good. The cultural history of junk food and the junk food nation. Basically how the food is manufactured, how McDonalds got to be what it is .. how the manufacturing of junk (I mean fast) food become what it is now, how is the life of the agriculturers, fast food chain workers, slaughterhouse workers etc now. And how the taste and the smell you feel and taste of your food does not originate from the food but from a smell factory. And the sad stories of junk food poisonings (e.g. e. coli bacteria) .. very saddening book to read. But I think to read this would be really good for many (especially those who eat regularly fast or ready food).

The book has been a hit in many countries. I have the UK version - or well, I loaned it from a friend who bought it in Ireland. This, like Michael Moore, seems a lot bigger hit in UK than in US - maybe the British want to know mo(o)re what they eat? But I know it has been a hit in many other countries too. How about where you live? Have you read it? What are your thoughts about it?


I have not read the book, but I've become aware of some aspects of the fast food industry. When I was in high school, I worked at a few of those places when I was 16 years old to pay for my auto insurance and my first Apple Computer (Apple IIgs). After going through college and majoring in chemistry with a biochemistry specialization, there is NO WAY I'm going near that stuff. Most of the fatty acids that help food taste good are long chain saturated fatty acids that contribute to atheriosclorosis. Keep in mind, you are what you eat.

Recently, I read an article at ( where researchers IMPROVED butter by altering the diets of cows. The new and improved butter spreads easily when it is chilled to 4 degrees centigrade, and is healthier for consumption (has less palmitic acid - a long chain fatty acid). For those who think that Margarine is healthy to eat, IT IS NOT; it will clog up your arteries faster than butter could ever hope to. Margarine contains partially hydrogenated fatty acids and transfatty acids - both known for hardening of the arteries. And, Margarine typically does not contribute to your nutritional requirements; it has no vitamins or minerals whereas butter does.

Processed "refined" sugars are found almost everywhere: breads, vitamin water, softdrinks, cookies, twinkies, and Ho-hos. These refined sugars have a very long shelf life and contribute to reduced receptivity of the insulin receptors in our body's cells. This means that even though our bodies produce enough insulin to bind with the sugars in our blood stream, our cells insulin receptors no longer work, causing a certain type of diabetes. Hence, when I drink my coffee in the morning, I use all natural honey (complete with vitamins!) to sweeten my "Cup of Joe".

For the past four years I've been spicing up my coffee (a full pot) in the morning with one table spoon of ground cinnamon and one table spoon of ground nutmeg, and about 50mL to 100mL of vanilla extract (I just pour it from the container - rough estimate). I recently read here

at that cinnamon spice is VERY good for your health. I recently had my blood cholesterol levels checked because I changed to a new doctor. He said that I have the blood cholesterol levels of an 8-year old child. Well, At least I shouldn't die from artheriosclorosis.

Getting back to fast food, the fast food industry focuses on maximizing profit and reducing costs associated with producing food marketed for a certain population segment. One cheese burger, fries, and a softdrink meet or exceed your daily caloric requirements. So, your daily energy requirements are met in one meal, but fast food typically is VERY LOW in nutritional requirements. Vitamins are expensive because they don't have an infinite shelf life. Why? Vitamins, by the their very nature, are utilized in the body to be oxidized or to participate in a chemical reaction (to briefly hold on to an electron via a hydrogen bond formation and then dissociation). So you don't necessarily want to be ingesting "used" or "expired" vitamins. Also, lots of bacteria and other microbes (molds, algae, etc...) use vitamins just like we do. So, in America, a lot of food is fairly low-cost, and correspondingly it has low nutritional content. Getting food is no longer a difficulty in modern society, unlike the distant past, but getting high quality, high nutritional food, remains costly.

I am convinced that most man-made foods are BAD your health. The intention of most man-made or processed foods is to increase the shelf life while reducing the cost of the food product. Ultimately, you get what you pay for.

OK, enough ranting. I hope I've help someone.


Apple Addicted
Wow chemistry geek you ought to live to a ripe old age with your understanding of the inner workings of the blood & all that stuff.So how long do you plan to live?


Re: member
Great post chemistry_geek.

I read Fast Food Nation about a year ago. It was a hit over here (about the same time as M Moore's book... which I am sure has one chapter which is word-for-word out of FFN (or vice versa!).

Maybe the UK does take care of what it eats more the US, but I don't think it's by a great margin. However, the UK is perhaps in a better situation concerning popularisation of such issues (small island with everyone on top of each other sort of thing).

The book wasn't as shocking as I thought the publicity promised (but I have always been sceptical concerning processed food anyway). The 'smell factory' chapter was a great read though :)


markceltic said:
Wow chemistry geek you ought to live to a ripe old age with your understanding of the inner workings of the blood & all that stuff.So how long do you plan to live?
I would like to live as long as I can while maintaining good quality of life. If my health began to fail, I don't think I would want to live with some disease/affliction that is painful (physically and/or emotionally) or emotionally painful for my family members (Alzheimers disease or multiple strokes, and assuming I married and had children).

If you want to read about biochemistry, look for a biochemistry book authored by Voet & Voet, a husband and wife team. I have the first and second editions, there are more now. Also, some medical schools use a biochemistry book authored by Stryer, though it is not nearly as though and detailed as Voet & Voet. Voet & Voet's biochemistry text was for a long time the "bible" of biochemistry, and before that I think a book authored by Zubay was very detailed. I don't know if Voet & Voet is still ranked the most thorough biochemistry text book. When I was an undergraduate, I purchased 7 biochemistry text books, mostly because that was my major. Having multiple sources really helps your understanding of certain subject material.


Apple Addicted
Yes I can completely agree with you on the quality of life issue.As several local people had developed Alzheimers.To those folks who haven't witnessed what it does to a person suffice it to say it's a very depressing thing to see.