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Fast Food Reviews

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. This book describes the rise of fast food. These restaurants were designed with the following elements: (1) an assembly line to prepare food, (2) no utensils required, (3) simple jobs so cheap labor could be used, (4) a short menu, and (5) self-service so no waiters are required. The most interesting parts of the book deal with targeting marketing at children. The 1980's saw an explosion of advertising directed at children. One only has to look at the playgrounds, happy meals and toys at McDonalds to see this. The idea is to hook customers at a young age. "A taste for fat developed in childhood is difficult to lose as an adult."

The book describes some interesting facts, such as how processed food loses its flavor, so it has to be added back in with artificial flavors. McDonald's fries are cooked in beef tallow to give them their unique flavor - and give them more saturated beef fat per ounce than hamburgers.

The author suggests a ban on advertising unhealthy foods to children. He also suggests tougher food safety laws and higher USDA standards for school lunches.

Food Politics by Marion Nestle. She describes how the food industry lobbies the government to change food guidelines. For example, when the government wanted to encourage people to eat less meat, the food industry lobbied to change the advice to "eat more lean meat." The food industry grows profits by selling more, which means stuffing us like pigs led to slaughter. She also describes the "pouring rights" contacts where soft drink companies donate large amounts of money to schools in exchange for exclusive rights to sell their products on campus. The fast food and soft drink companies market to kids to develop brand loyalty early, even putting logos on baby bottles.

Other interesting facts include how the food and supplement industry lobbied for the "Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994," which took away the FDA's power to regulate false claims about health benefits of food and diet supplements. The food industry recognized there was big money to be made marketing "healthy." The media has played a role in keeping nutrition information complicated, always wanting news - stories with controversy, about new fads, etc. But eat more fruits and veggies has been simple advice for over 50 years.

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