Book Application Paper

Book Application Paper
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The book ‘Fast Food Nation’ provides an in-depth overview of the social aspects of the
American society especially with respect to their food choices. In doing so, the author has used
various aspects of writing such as the themes to put forth his arguments. In this paper, the author
will aim to provide a detailed analysis of the numerous themes highlighted in the book. The
themes comprise the concepts which the author of the book has used to communicate about the
lifestyle of the people and thus they will form the foundation for this paper. Such themes that the
paper will lay emphasis include health and wellness, manipulation and corporate greed,
segregation based on income and scientific and technological advancement in fast food.
Theme Analysis
The most prominent theme that is conspicuous throughout the book is manipulation and
greed in the corporate world. The fast-food industry in the United States is highly developed
based on the profits that corporations which run the industry rake in annually. However, it is
worthy to note that the corporations operating in the industry put profits first at the expense of
the consumers’ health (Azétsop and Joy, 2013). The practice occurs at two fronts that is, at the
production and the marketing fronts. At the latter, the workers in those factories operate in poor
working conditions such that they are exposed to injuries which in turn contaminate the food
products they are processing. The hazard for accidents leading to injuries mainly results from
overworking with minimal rest periods and long shift extreme work quotations. The goal of
overworking workers is to cut costs and maximize the profits. Secondly, the corporates employ
aggressive marketing strategies to attract consumers especially children where there sale
unhealthy food containing high fat, refined starch, sugar and salt content. The author used an
example of the McDonald's restaurant chain that employs aggressive marketing through
advertisements across the globe. That is to say; consumer health is not a concern for them as
much as they are making profits.
Health is a primary concern for every individual and it is a universal human right.
Nonetheless, based on the actions of fast food corporate players it has been relegated to be the
second option since health is not their primary concern. Numerous studies such as a study carried
out by Jiao, Moudon, Kim, Hurvitz and Drewnowski, (2015) have found that fast food contains
dangerous contents that are detrimental to the health of both adults and children. Such effects
include obesity, high blood pressure and cardiac diseases. On that note, it is justifiable to assert
that the corporates have not concerned for human health and wellness especially children who
are their primary targets in their aggressive marketing strategies. The only aspects fast food
companies focus on in the addition of artificial flavors and improvement of food texture in the
mouth to increase their appeal to consumers. Lifestyle conditions such as obesity are a bigger
issue affecting the American Society where according to the National Institute of Health (2016),
17% and 35% of the children and adults respectively are obese. Another aspect of health
according to the author is the employment of youth who are untrained and therefore end up
getting injuries who add up to about 200,000 of the total population working in the fast food
industry. It is imperative to note that the injuries do not occur at the point of production but also
in the restaurants The wellness of these workers is not only endangered by their employers but
the increased crime rates targeting fast food restaurants which the author estimates to be about
four to five restaurant workers murdered on a monthly basis.
There is segregation of the workforce in the industry based on their levels of income.
According to the author, semi-skilled workers working in the manufacturing industries are
exposed to poor working conditions which exposes them to bodily and psychological harm. Such
findings coincide with Ukandu and Ukpere, (2012) assertion that poor working conditions for
workers in the industry are detrimental to all the social aspects of the workers’ life. The author
adds that semi-skilled workers are at the disposal of the corporates such that they can firm them
at will and the workers are not allowed to form a union which they can use to address their
issues. The author takes an example of IBP that opened a cattle slaughtering plant that sold beef
products where it fabricated them into primals and subprimals. The advancement in technology
gave the retailers a leeway to fire workers at will particularly the skilled but unionized butchers.
In such a case, these theme creates an impression that the low-income group of workers are
expendable and can be mistreated as opposed to their skilled high-income counterparts
occupying higher offices. The most vulnerable people to the terrible working conditions are the
illegal immigrants mainly from Mexico and other Latin and Asian Countries and therefore, they
are paid less than the minimum wage and cannot question the sanitation and safety standards of
places of work. Furthermore, the high cost of other food products that made fast food the
preferred choice among poor households. The assertion is based on the fact that such groups of
people have no access to refrigeration or do not have the necessary cooking skills which make
purchasing fast food the cheaper option. Other reasons for the popularity of fast food among the
low-income groups include large families with not productive activities in the evening such as
exercise and use of television as a babysitter upon which fast food corporates use to market their
The increasing popularity of fast foods and the desire to achieve economies of scale have
motivated companies to invest heavily in scientific research and technological advancement not
only to keep the cost down but also meet consumer preferences. According to Yahya, Shafiq and
Zafar, (2013), the growth of the fast food industry has coincided with the rise of experts in
different aspects of fast food such as fragrance and flavor and improving the shelf life of the fast
foods. The scientific and technological advancement has also occurred in the setting of standards
such as the HACCP upon which all fast foods must attain. One interesting aspect of scientific
research is the employment of food psychologists who study the behaviors of people towards
different colors of food, for instance, the neon yellow color of the pickles was as a result of
scientific research. However, according to the author, the biggest issue in the arising as a result
of the advancement is the kind of people put in charge of handling the modern equipment used
for instance in meat packing. For instance, the use of “electromagnetic and nuclear technology”
employed in the slaughterhouses by unskilled people may not bring about the desired safety and
sanitary changes. The main goal of the fast food industry corporate in investing in research and
development is to reduce the cost of production, increase shelf-life and appeal to the consumers.
Investment in safety equipment is largely a marketing strategy since while embrace the new
technologies but not change the old production ways which were somehow unhygienic especially
injuries occurring during the production stage. In such a case, it explains why cases of poisoning
continue to exist in spite of the technological advancement in the fast food industry especially
ground beef, pork and mutton products taking the case of Harding food poisoning in the book.
Peoples taste and preferences in relation to fast foods are fast changing in that selection
of food to consume is based on convenience and not the nutritional content. In a study carried out
by Bipasha and Goon, (2014) on university students, the causal factors for this change in
behavior is the shelf-life of the food products and costs. Fresh vegetables or home baked food
such as bread have a short shelf-life so the individuals have to bake every day or go to buy
groceries every week which will then have to be cooked before being ready for consumption. For
an average American working as a laborer who may not have enough time, it is tedious, costly
and time-consuming. On the contrary, fast foods can be consumed on the go as they are packed
with preservatives that increase their shelf-life. Therefore, one has to purchase them maybe once
in a fortnight before going to the store to recharge. What is worrying is that there is limited
information regarding the long-term impact of fast food preservatives on the health of the
consumers as most studies have focused on the negative impacts of additives. The preference of
convenience over nutritional content is an issue of concern since lack of knowledge does not
signify the absence of negative impacts. Fast food corporates have taken advantage of this
change in preferences to increase their production volumes and marketing to meet the increasing
There exist bureaucracies and increased complexity of the fast food industry in the
United States. The bureaucracies revolve around the size of firms operating in the industry and
their financial performance. Schlosser takes the example of large corporations which have
invested heavily to promote efficiency in their production processes by acquiring sophisticated
equipment and hiring of skilled personnel to run the production process. In such a case, taking
the example of beef product firms, it helps them keep a constant and high supply of meat
products to the market thus helping to keep the prices down. Doing so lock out smaller firms
operating in the industry which do not have economies of scale in the production process and
thus high prices for their products. According to Barker and Cheney, (1994) like in other
industries, it has tilted the market in favor of large firms. Schlosser further adds that with the
short time covered by each employee on the beef during production, there is room for error
particularly with regard to the issue of hygiene. Bureaucracies in the government in charge of the
management of the food supply sector prevent inspectors from effectively undertaking their roles
or even in some cases lie about the findings of the inspections. In other cases, they push for the
fast food industry to regulate itself which encourages the corporations to ignore the safety
standards. The complexity of the fast food industry arises from the fact that the bureaucracies run
the industry, but they are separated from the workers who provide the much need labor that
supports the industry. Additionally, the industry contains many systems where each of will do
everything possible to ensure that they continue to exist (Barker, 1993). The existence of many
systems complicates the instillation of safety measures in the setting of regulations since there
are many people and individuals each with their vested interests.
In the book ‘Fast Food Nation,’ Schlosser have provided a detailed overview of the
American fast food industry. Of all the themes that the author discussed, health is the primary
issue factor significantly influenced by the production and consumption of fast foods. At the
production, stage health is influenced by poor working conditions and contamination of food
products due to injuries of negligence. On the other hand, at the consumption stage, the effects
come in on the effects of additives on consumers’ health. Negative impacts of fast foods
highlighted include obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiac diseases.
Azétsop, J., & Joy, T. R. (2013). Access to nutritious food, socioeconomic individualism and
public health ethics in the USA: a common good approach. Philosophy, Ethics, and
Humanities in Medicine, 8(1), 16.
Barker, J. (1993). Tightening the Iron Cage: Concertive Control in Self-Managing Teams (pp.
408-437). Marquette University.
Barker, J., & Cheney, G. (1994). The Concept and Practices of Discipline in Contemporary
Organizational Life. Communication Monographs, 61, 19-44.
Bipasha, M. S., & Goon, S. (2014). Fast food preferences and food habits among students of
private universities in Bangladesh. South East Asia Journal of Public Health, 3(1), 61-64.
Jiao, J., Moudon, A. V., Kim, S. Y., Hurvitz, P. M., & Drewnowski, A. (2015). Health
implications of adults’ eating at and living near fast food or quick service restaurants.
Nutrition & diabetes, 5(7), e171.
National Institutes of Health. (2016). How many people are affected by/at risk for obesity &
overweight? Retrieved 24 April 2018, from
Ukandu, N. E., & Ukpere, W. I. (2012). Dysfunctional psychological aspects of working in a fast
food industry. African Journal of Business Management, 6(7), 2634.
Yahya, F., Shafiq, S., & Zafar, R. (2013). Trend of Fast Food Consumption and its Effect on
Pakistani Society, 11.

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