Fast Food Nation” By Eric Schlosser is a pretty good read. not one to read if you love McDonalds/Burger King/KFC (and have no intention of giving them up)… but it certainly makes you think about food and where it comes from. [an excerpt from the book can be found here.]

The book is mostly about America, although it does touch on the globalisation of the Fast Food Industry. It goes into the history, talks about how these companies, multinationals treat their staff (badly), about teenagers who work for them and how they’re mistreated and used, about the meatpacking industry that lies behind the fast food companies, about how they treat their staff (equally badly) and about how the current agricultural and food departments, the guys in government whose job it is to oversee food and agriculture are really letting the country down. It talks about what’s really in the french fries, why they taste so good (answer: they used to have beef tallow in the vegetable oil, although they don’t do that in the UK now (at least, at the time of writing the book)), and the real cost of the burgers, about E Coli, about how profit is such an overiding force behind the meatpacking industry in the USA, that they’re forcing the workers to put the meat through faster and faster.. accidents happen – not just to the workers, but to the meat itself. it gets dropped, picked up, put back on the conveyor belt. it gets covered in faeces from where the cow is gutted. and as a result… E. Coli festers within the meat, an organism that can kill very very unpleasantly. And the government not only allowed the meat to be sold, they bought it for their children and fed it to them in school cafeterias.

Then it talks about Mad Cow disease, Food and Mouth disease. and throughout it all you’re thinking, “yes, but that’s america.. surely it can’t be allowed to happen here?” sure about that? think about BSE. Foot n mouth. bird flu. jamie oliver’s campaign to have school children fed proper food… the more you think and read about this the more you feel uncertain about the food that you buy, particularly the readymade stuff.

We already avoid ready meals/processed food where possible, and i make things from scratch, for financial reasons (as well as loving cooking). but i do know that even if i didn’t already do this… i would as a result of the information in this book.

There’s another book which has been written in a similar vein, “Bad Food Britain: How a nation ruined its appetite” by Joanna Blythman, which i think i will investigate if the library has. But in the mean time i can certainly recommend “Fast Food Nation“: my thanks to Sez for recommending it to me.