Eric Schlosser, a well-known social critic devoted his three articles, namely “The Most Dangerous Job”, “what’s in the Meat” and “What We Eat” to the issues of the rapid growth of the fast food industry and its impact upon the American national mentality and life style. Using statistic data as weighty arguments for supporting his ideas and language means for appealing to the readers’ feelings, Schlosser presents the development of fast food industry as an important economical and sociological phenomenon. Exploring the impact of the fast food industry upon not only American economy, but also the national eating habits and even way of thinking, a social critic Eric Schlosser uses valuable statistic data as weighty arguments for supporting his ideas. Discussing the economical impact of the growth of the fast food industry, Schlosser compares the amount of money Americans spend on this type of goods every year. “In 1970, Americans spent $ 6 billion on fast food; in 2001, they spent more than $ 110 billion” (Schlosser, What We Eat 491). Discussing the fast food meal as an integral element of American life style, the author notes that most people buy and eat fast food meals without paying much attention to the quality of these products and the way through which they get to the stores, restaurants and their dinner tables.
Initiating the readers into the secrets of the fast food industry, Schlosser shows the reverse side of McDonaldization of America for the economy of the country. “Workers- about half of them women, almost all of them young and Latino – slice meat with long slender knives” (Schlosser, The Most Dangerous Job 170). Discussing the hazards of this hard and dangerous job that is acceptable for illegal immigrants only, the author points at the real cost of a hamburger and a hot dog.
According to Schlosser, “every year about one out of three meatpacking workers in the country – roughly forty-three thousand men and women – suffer an injury or a work-related illness that requires medical attention beyond first aid” (The Most Dangerous Job 172). Moreover, the author claims that there are thousands of cases which remain unregistered. Another important aspect on which Schlosser sheds light is the risk of food contamination.
The author draws the readers’ attention to the risks of eating the fast food product. “Every day in the United States, roughly 200, 000 people are sickened by a foodborne disease, 900 are hospitalized, and fourteen die” (Schlosser, What’s in the Meat 195). Providing data on the amount of bacteria and bugs which can be found in products due to the violation of the meatpacking norms, the author raises the question on the quality of fast food meals and the related hazards for the people’s health. As it can be seen from the above-mentioned examples, the statistic data make Schlosser’s argumentation much more persuasive. Along with statistical data, Schlosser uses expressive language means and images for appealing to the readers’ feelings and emotions. For example, describing the daily job of an average meatpacking worker, the author goes into details for describing not only hazards of being injured and all the difficulties of routine and monotonous work, but also the disgust at working with the animals’ flesh. “For eight and a half hours, a worker called a ‘sticker’ does nothing but stand in a river of blood, being drenched in blood ” (Schlosser, The Most Dangerous Job 171).
The pictures of the blood floor, knives and meat affect the readers’ perception of the process and make them sympathize with the employees of the fast food industry and the killed animals. Not going to the extremes of the vegetarian ideas, the author explores the rate of the mass production by providing data on the amount of the killed cattle. Admitting that about 400 cattle are killed every hour at some plants, Schlosser creates an impressive picture of mass killing. Not going too far with explaining the economical and legal implications of the fast food industry rapid growth and the related risks and violations, the social critic chooses examples which are understandable for the wide audience.
Schlosser appeals to the feelings of an average American citizen who is expected to reconsider his/her views on the fast food products after learning some details on the way these goods are produced and distributed. Shedding light upon the technical and legal aspects of the fast food industry which have been previously underestimated by most readers, Schlosser appeals to their feelings and affects their perception and attitude towards the fast food industry as an economical and sociological phenomenon. As a sociological critic and researcher, Schlosser obtains a broad view on the phenomenon of the growing fast food industry and its impact upon various dimensions of the community life. In his articles, the author does not limit his perspective to merely economical aspects of the issue, but considers the globalization and the corresponding shifts in the American mentality and public consciousness.
In other words, Schlosser views fast food as an important industry and a significant concept affecting the American way of viewing the world. According to Schlosser, the level at which the fast food industry affects people’s consciousness is impressive. “A survey of American schoolchildren found that 96 percent could identify Ronald McDonald” (Schlosser, What We Eat 492).
Second only to Santa Claus, Ronald McDonald has become a recognizable national symbol creating personal associations in millions of children and adults. Using the terms such as globalization and McDonaldization, the researcher demonstrates how deep the roots of these processes are. Discussing the ability of the fast food manufacturers to influence the government decisions in controlling the food quality, Schlosser shows their political power. “The meatpacking industry blocked the use of microbial testing in the federal meat inspection program” (Schlosser, What’s in the Meat 204). Thus, taking into account the role of fast food industry in the national economy and even policy making, it can be stated that in particular cases not the federal programs controlled the quality of the fast food production, but the fast food industry affected the policy making process and the regulations which could have impact upon the effectiveness of their procedures. Trying to influence the readers’ perception of fast food, the author views fast food from a sociological perspective and discusses the shifts in the public consciousness as the result of the rapid growth of the industry. Shedding light upon the variety of implications, which the growth of industry can play in forming the nation’s food preferences, cultural values and even life views, Schlosser goes beyond the accustomed pattern for discussing fast food industry as not only economical but also sociological phenomenon. In general, it can be stated that the style of Schlosser’s articles along with the statistic data and language means makes these works more persuasive and allows the author to affect the public perception of the fast food industry as an important sociological phenomenon.
Schlosser, Eric. “The Most Dangerous Job”. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Ed. Schlosser, Eric. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.
Print. Schlosser, Eric. “What We Eat”. Open Questions: Reading for Critical Thinking and Writing. Ed. Anderson, Chris, Runciman Alexander and Lex Runciman. Bedford/St.
Martin’s, 2005. Print. Schlosser, Eric. “What’s in the Meat”. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Ed. Schlosser, Eric.
New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. Print.