‘Fast Food Nation’: The Danger of an Unexamined Appetite

by on October 13th, 2005

Eric Schlosser’s seminal expose on the potent ramifications of the Fast Food Industry offers the following proclamation: “The Dark Side of the All-American Meal”.

True to that declared adage, Schlosser frames a distinct vision of National Culture by crafting a string of visualizations, compelling anecdotes, peppered with supportive facts.

Though in this meticulous trial, ‘fast food’ is the defendant; by a greater and more cogent range, the very purview and essence of American Society is illustrated through the evocative metaphor of the unholy trinity of a large soda, ketchup and processed flesh: a culture that thrives on short term gratification, a corporate policy calculated to generate profit with suspicious motives and seemingly little intrinsic consideration to humanistic development, and a dangerous and unsustainable pattern of consumption, that continues to eviscerate an entire generation.

“Twenty-Five years ago, only a handful of American companies directed their marketing at children- Disney, McDonald’s, candy makers, toy makers, manufacturers of breakfast cereal. Today children are being targeted by phone companies, oil companies, and automobile companies, as well as clothing stores and restaurant chains. The explosion in children’s advertising occurred during the 1980s. Many working parents, feeling guilty about spending less time with their kids, started spending more money on them. One marketing expert has called the 1980s “the decade of the child consumer.” (pg.43 ‘Kid Kustomers’, Fast Food Nation. Schlosser).

The essential consumption of food: the innocuous and necessary intake of nutrients, a basic, rural, and traditional idea devoted to the cultivation of a healthy body and a sensitive palate, has become a gut-orgy; invoking the most primitive and unexamined impulses embedded in the unwary consumer, who, motivated by slogans and sales incentives, flock by the billions to the arched gates of consumer cornucopia.

Marketing has become an all out, all encompassing, and pervasive triumph of propaganda, whose effectiveness was demonstrated with an unnerving sensation in the Third Reich.

Walt Disney says “it’s the law of the universe that the strong shall survive and the weak must fall by the way, and I don’t give a damn what idealistic plan is cooked up, nothing can change that.”

In this tale-tell, Darwinian cautionary note, one may discern the black and white days of Joseph Goebbels: a shrieking intensity, and unabashed sensationalization of the masses, and as Goebbels himself had once said “It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.”

Transposed to the Corporate world, the supervision of public opinions have become subtle, more deeply engendered and a carefully guarded yet very open secret. The consequences are perhaps even worse in the long run than the rave fanaticism stirred up in Goebbel’s Germany. The very preservation and perseverance of human reasoning is under assault, to the devastating detriment of human health, and an intractable submissiveness of the consumer hordes: slaves to the calculated and imperceptible ploys of the Corporate State.

“Every day in the United States, roughly 200,000 people are sickened by a foodborne disease, 900 are hospitalized, and fourteen die. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a quarter of American population suffers a bout of food poisoning each year. Most of these cases are never reported to authorities or properly diagnosed. The widespread outbreaks that are detected and identified represent a small fraction of the number that actually occurs. And there is a strong evidence not only that incidence of food-related illness has risen in the past few decades, but also that the lasting health consequences of such illnesses are far more serious that was previously believed.” (pg.195 ‘An ideal system for new pathogens’, Fast Food Nation. Schlosser).

In such a world order, in Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation”, a dangerous alliance is on the rise.

Where Doctors, Dieticians, Democrats, and McDonald chains are cooperating at an unprecedented and more interconnected level, with a common incentive; the utopian traditions of genuine and unaffected representation of intrinsic human interests are on the verge of a most calamitous compromise and shameful disrobing.

The battle of this new order is one being fought not simply over diet plans and bulging bellies: but it is one, being fought over the very nature and destiny of human impulses.

“There is always a heavy demand for fresh mediocrity. In every generation the least cultivated taste has the largest appetite.”~Paul Gaugin (French painter, printmaker, and sculptor, 1848-1903)

“If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die.” ~William Shakespeare

Alexander Rai