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“Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser

Introduction

In the book “Fast Food Nation” E. Schlosser describes his understanding and perception of fast food culture and its impact on the world. Schlosser singles out the main characteristics of fast food, its history and its advantages. The author argues that the image of fast food culture is replaced by a version of the social culture that is constituted by a process of ongoing struggle to comprehend and live through a world in which everything solid is melting into the air. He speaks about fast food as both “a commodity and metaphor” which helps him to analyze and reveal the nature of this phenomenon. Schlosser shows that “real culture” is used in a highly prescriptive and selective sense within mass cultural arguments. Only certain artifacts and practices are allowed into the cultural canon of fast food. So, for many people, fast food culture in its various manifestations is very often seen as an arena for displays of mundane agency in subverting dominant flows of meaning. Schlosser explains that as a commodity, fast food means chains of restaurants and bars. For instance, in 1970 consumers spent about $6 billion on fast food and in 2000 this sum exceeded $110 billion. Today, fast food restaurants are popular in almost every country in the world being a part of the economy and food sector (Schlosser, 2002, 7).

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Importance of Education

The task to educate people should be assigned to mass media and the government, local communities and every citizen who knows about the negative impact of fast food on every American. Schlosser sets the task of clarifying the dynamics of culture through a discussion of what he regards as fundamental presumptions at its core. First, there is the presumption, by which fast food commonly and easily comes to substitute for the American lifestyle. This discursive shift has resulted in a cultural politics that is patron­izing to the population and fast food. Schlosser’s second presumption is what he associates with fast food proliferation and expansion, whereby Americaness has come to be associated with fast food bars. “Every few miles clusters of fast food joints seem to repeat themselves. You can drive for twenty minutes, pass another fast food cluster and feel like you’ve gotten nowhere” (Schlosser cited Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 43). In this description, acute irony and desperation are portraying a region as fast food paradise. Schlosser unveils the true nature and business goals of McDonald’s corporation as a test area for “other types of restaurant technology” (Schlosser cited Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 43). The problem is that fast food companies occupy the space in many cities leaving no choice for a population and competitors. The need for unskilled work, especially in late afternoon and evening shopping times, opens the way to after-school and weekend jobs for millions of Americans. No particular prior training or experience is necessary for these jobs. These mature concerns are offset by the amount of fast food and snack foods consumers bought–burgers, fries, corn chips, ice cream, cookies, soft drinks.

Hopes and Future Opportunities

Schlosser puts his hopes, not in regional or national futures, but on new urbanism, with cosmopolitan and multicultural possibilities. Schlosser argues that the logic of economic and cultural changes deprives people of a chance to choose their lifestyle and even thinking. Using such symbols as Academy Boulevard, Schlosser invites readers to reflect on the significance of culture and fast food values. Some now seek to mobilize the ideal of fast food, invoking ‘a core of ideas around which appeals to the “natural” heart of life can be based. Fast food, the symbol of cultural modernization becomes devolution, which contradicts the old logic of national identity and uniqueness of the American nation. In sum, in this excerpt Schlosser gives an account of the significance of fast food in the construc­tion of the national culture. The issue of fast food remains a central one in America: for some, it remains crucial to the maintenance of an enduring’ national home: and for others, it represents a fundamental obstacle to the creation of a more accommodating and cosmopolitan cultural order (Fields 32).

Social Involvement

Social involvement and education about the negative impact of fast food must extend beyond the community. All individuals affected should be educated and have a chance to express their opinions before important action is taken. In the end, the liability and power for final decision-making are in the hands of the government and the individuals who permit fast food restaurants, acting on the recommendations of the state authorities, but true and lasting success in dealing with the difficulty will depend on openness and conversation with every individual affected. All buyers in America need to have the courage and strength of mind to look at why and how they do things, to question fats food practices, and to plan for the future. Schlosser underlines that the fast food problem in society, culture, and identity is presenting all Americans with profound dilemmas- that are badly in need of clarification and resolution of real-life values and ideals Schlosser wonders whether it is politico-cultural choice for citizens or expansion of the fast food empire. The task of community leaders is to recognize that although fast food consumption is indeed different from business, industry, and government, so lawful questions can be raised about the health effects of fast food, the quality of food and services rendered, the concern for customer service, and approval. At the same time, the state needs to be concerned about the most successful and well-organized use of the resources available to buyers (Sherman 12).

Fast food culture is shared by members of a society and the behavioral traits of which it is comprised are manifested in a society’s institutions and artifacts. It is something that shapes behavior or structures perception of the world. For most Americans, fast food culture becomes a shared system of meanings, it is learned, it is about groups, and it is relative; it is no right or wrong, inherited, or about individual behavior. To understand a fast food culture people must understand its origins, history, structure, and functioning; and the effects of the geographical environment on the culture, acculturation, and assimilation. “However, the kinds of fast food one eats depend on age and gender. Taste, rather than fast food versus non-fast food, determines where one will go to eat. Older people rarely eat at McDonald’s or another similar restaurant” (Traphagan and Brown 32).

Food and Culture

Fast food culture changes over time, with change typically being slow to occur. The control task is to develop formidable and devastating: to work together as colleagues on multifaceted problems to meet the challenges. If buyers and the state are to build up institutions now and for the future, restaurants must offer the highest quality of food, research, and public service to, community. With understanding, purpose, bravery, cooperation, and preparation, individuals can reduce fast-food proliferation and enter into a new and brighter era for higher education (Fields 32).

The supermarket shelves provide the same tins and cans found elsewhere, and the menus in McDonald’s and Pizza Hut are identical to others throughout the country. From this perspective, food opportunities would seem to be increasingly homogenized. The quirks of seasonal and regional gastronomic differences would seem to have been replaced by a monotonous culinary uniformity. These connotations are, we might imagine, derived from the texture and flavor of the mango itself, rather than from the complex social relations of its trajectory from Jamaica to the supermarket shelves. This conclusion is aided and abetted by how food commodities are marketed, a process which in many cases tends to limit consumers’ knowledge about the conditions of their production. Schlosser states that social dimensions are manifested in the ability of mass media to control the circulation of ideas about body image and fashion. The local administrators are telling society that they have to be innovative and willing to take risks, develop strategies, and set up priorities. Despite all this activity, it seems to be the general guide for communities to make reductions, thus deteriorating all support units and programs. Despite such mixed terms of support, there is a lack of identification of fast food and health-related problems, needs, and tactics in most statements of goals and aims. If Americans had been elitists, they would have been different places because eating habits and culture of consumption determine their way of living and even thinking. The distancing of self from those others who eat curry or spaghetti specifically, or in general from consumers of ‘foreign muck’, has contributed significantly to the definition of American life. his emphasis on nation forms part of a broader interest in identity, belonging and difference that has been central to the formation of cultural studies (Traphagan and Brown 32).

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Globalization

Globalization threatens a sense of tradition by undermining the importance of time and place in terms of the food we eat. At a more general level, it can be seen as an exemplar of a certain form of cultural manifestations, particularly outside the United States where “Americanization” is so often a synonym for fast food. Also, Schlosser underlines the importance of fast food culture for the American nation connected it with entrepreneur innovations and self-men. After all, at various points in his argument Schlosser claims that McDonaldization is akin to the rationalization process. In that sense, he claims that he is not hostile to McDonald’s itself as a cultural form but rather to the iron cage it exemplifies, to the inexorable spread of bureaucratic systems that the metaphor so neatly captures. In addition, on many occasions, he uses the rhetorical strategy in order to put forward a point of view or quotation without actually endorsing it himself. “Like Cheyenne Mountain, today’s fast food conceals remarkable technological advances behind an ordinary-looking façade” (Schlosser, 2002, 5). As the most important he underlines the role of fast food in the formation of national identity. A key dimension in such formations is the concept of the ‘imagined community. Schlosser argues that the nation is essentially ‘imagined’ in so far as it focuses on a sense of belonging. Many commentators have sought to identify the factors and agencies instrumental in the processes of constructing national identity (Traphagan and Brown 32).

Schlosser identified key territorial, legal, economic and political factors and continues. As a metaphor, he connects fast food with the emergence of car culture and its influence on national habits. “The nation’s car culture reached its height in southern California. A new form of eating place emerged. People with cars are so lazy, they do not want to get out of them to eat” (Schlosser 2002, 11). In other words, fast food culture provides the key to an understanding of the formation of the American nation. Schlosser views McDonald’s as a prime example of suburbanization, Americanisation, and degradation and assumes that those who eat there are, by and large, dupes and victims. On the other hand, for Schlosser McDonald’s, and any other similar phenomenon is a pleasure. Schlosser uses many ways to analyze fast food as a metaphor and commodity seeing it as a part of culture, eating habits and way of living. To inform the public about fast food and its impact on every individual, the state and interest groups should involve all possible sources of education such as schools, universities, the local community groups and the mass media (Traphagan and Brown 32).

Conclusion

In sum, one of the best strategies for helping buyers and the community, in general, is supporting them through the complex process of education and aid. Education and promotion of a healthy lifestyle should be targeted at parents and children, youth and older people. Local and state agencies should have joint programs with other institutions. Others may share supporting and promotion materials. It should be clear that the utmost advantage which can be achieved from such programs occurs when agencies are willing to give up something in return for the principles to be received from the collaboration. To gain maximum results from collaboration of all institutions, the individuals and agencies involved have to spend resources they might not support independently. Agencies should have vital programs so they benefit from the institution.

Works Cited

Fields, S. Another Fast-Food Fear. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111 (2003), 32.

Lunsford, A. A., Ruszkiewicz, J. The Presence of Others. Bedford Books, 1999.

Schlosser, E. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Harper Perennial; Reprint edition, 2002.

Sherman, N.W. Children, Schools and Fast Food. JOPERD–The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 78 (2007), 12.

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Traphagan, J.W. Brown, K. Fast Food and Intergenerational Commensality in Japan: New Styles and Old Patterns. Ethnology, 41 (2002), 32.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 22). “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/fast-food-nation-by-eric-schlosser/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 22). “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. https://studycorgi.com/fast-food-nation-by-eric-schlosser/

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