Blog Post for: Kathryn Henderson, PhD
05/25/2006 | Kathryn Henderson, PhD
A new and unusual tome has entered the children’s section of your friendly neighborhood bookstore. Eric Schlosser, with Charles Wilson, has produced a “younger” version of his bestselling Fast Food Nation, titled Chew on this: Everything you don’t want to know about fast food. Targeting children ages 9-15, the book details the workings of fast food joints and, in particular, the make-up of the food.
Outside of those with an economic interest in the maintenance of the American fast food habit, it’s hard to imagine who would quibble with providing basic information to America’s kids. But the book has evoked some surprising controversy. While some reviewers have sung its praises, others have criticized it for inaccuracy and misleading spin. Regarding the latter, one writer claims that the make-up of fast food is no different than the make-up of any other food, and that our inability to eat in moderation is the real problem. It is noted that there is no difference between a fast-food version of hamburger and fries, and hamburger and fries prepared by mom, except that the portion mom serves is likely to be larger and therefore higher in fat and calories.
But what such arguments fail to recognize is that, in this writer’s view, fast food has been instrumental in producing a major cultural shift such that we now envision our diets very differently – we expect to eat burgers and fries on a regular basis, and fruits, vegetables and brown rice have become occasional tourists on our plates. It’s not just the burgers, rather, it’s the phenomenon of Burgamerica that has landed us in the mess we’re in today.