May 2006

Want fries with that?

By Eric Schlosser
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In Chew on This, Eric Schlosser expands on his best-selling exposŽ of the fast-food industry, Fast Food Nation, this time seeking to get his message to the industry’s biggest consumer group: children and teens. Aimed at 11- to 13-year-olds, Chew on This uncovers the fascinating and often frightening truths behind the sesame bun, exposing the business and health realities of fast food that kids may never have considered.

Although the research and behind-the-scenes revelations in this book are similar to those in Fast Food Nation, Schlosser and co-author Charles Wilson have attempted to recast the information to appeal to the younger set. They start with a historical look at the beginnings of the fast-food industry and delve into the ways these restaurants are marketed to children (Happy Meals, anyone?). The authors keep their focus on kids by telling stories of teens who work for or have protested against the industry. As in Fast Food Nation, some of the most compelling writing is found in reportage on the mistreatment of animals in slaughterhouses that provide the meat for fast-food restaurants, and the health effects of too much fast food on growing bodies. A particularly poignant chapter is devoted to the story of Sam and Charlie Fabrikant, two teen brothers who undergo gastric bypass surgery in an attempt to lose some of the 300 pounds they piled on from a steady diet of fast food.

Chew on This is an eye-opening book with a worthy message. The authors do a good job of uncovering facts that will particularly appeal to teens and pre-teens such as the fact that the pink, red and purple color of many processed foods comes from an additive made from ground-up bugs. However, for the complete message of fast food’s high cost to our society, health, communities and the earth, this book should be consumed with adult assistance.

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Chew on This

Chew on This

By Eric Schlosser
Houghton Mifflin
ISBN 9780618710317

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