Fast Food Nation

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Themes and Colors
Diet, Nutrition, and Food Safety Theme Icon
Greed, Corporations, and “The Bottom Line” Theme Icon
Independence vs. the Social Contract Theme Icon
Bureaucracy and Complex Systems Theme Icon
Work and “The Good Life” Theme Icon
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Independence vs. the Social Contract Theme Icon

Schlosser emphasizes the relationship between one’s personal independence—the freedom it implies—and of social welfare, or the common bond between people. This independence cuts different ways. For individuals, independence can be understood as the ability to shop locally, or to run one’s own business; thus, fast-food corporations make it more difficult, as a consumer, to receive an individually-tailored meal, or dining experience—food across America becomes the same. For small-business owners, the freedom to run a restaurant, or a farm, or any food-related business is severely impeded by the large agricultural business (agri-business) corporations, by the fast-food companies, and by related conglomerates that manage America’s (and the world’s) relationship to food.

Meanwhile, large-business CEOs and board members argue that their corporations are built on principles of individual hard-work and sacrifice; that, for example, Ray Kroc (first large-scale manager of McDonald’s) and Walt Disney were “do-it-yourself-ers,” who managed to make their money without government interference of excessive regulation. But, of course, this isn’t the whole of the story: a great many agribusinesses and small companies that became large food conglomerates began with government-sponsored small-business loans, or with other federal programs designed to bolster the economy of post-war America. Thus, even “individual” prosperity is a result of social processes. For Schlosser, the “social contract” between food consumers and food producers used to be more immediate: farmers grew food, and some businesses helped to distribute that food to restaurants and grocery stores. But now that process is “intermediated” by many other businesses, mostly large corporations, who claim to be beholden not to consumer but to “stockholders,” or those who might profit from the business.

Thus the old social contract, in which individuals work for the betterment both of themselves and for society on the whole, is warped in the food economy when ranches, potato fields, restaurants, and other food distribution companies are owned by large corporations, and when competition between companies is stifled by monopolies within industries. For Schlosser, then, change in the food economy, both in America and around the world, requires a reexamination of what is “individual” and what is “social” about food production and consumption. Schlosser believes that large companies can still mass-produce food without necessarily damaging the economy or forcing people to eat un-nutritious items produced exclusively by machines.

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Independence vs. the Social Contract ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Independence vs. the Social Contract appears in each chapter of Fast Food Nation. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Independence vs. the Social Contract Quotes in Fast Food Nation

Below you will find the important quotes in Fast Food Nation related to the theme of Independence vs. the Social Contract.
Chapter 1: The Founding Fathers Quotes

The southern California drive-in restaurants of the early 1940s tended to be gaudy and round, topped with pylons, towers, and flashing signs. They were “Circular meccas of neon,” in the words of drive-in historian Michael Witzel, designed to be easily spotted from the road.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage is another depiction of the symbiosis between the rise of the fast-food restaurant and the rise of the highway. Just as a city or town would be viewed as a blur from a speeding car on a highway, a fast food restaurant could be recognized only by the bright lights and colors it produced. Thus the car was once again the functional unit for the transportation of people in mid-century, middle-class American society. And restaurants therefore catered to the car and centered on the car - were geared toward people whose lives were lived, for better or worse, in cars.

Nevertheless, Schlosser also seems somewhat wistful for the early days of fast food, if only because the novelty of these restaurants, and of the highways they were placed along, was something striking and somewhat individual in the postwar American boom of economic development. The optimism of higher-quality, mass-produced food might be traced, ultimately, to a utopian, if flawed, idea - that producing food in large quantities according to streamlined processes might actually benefit, rather than hinder, people's health and wallet - and thus create more free time for them to spend with their families. 


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Richard McDonald . . . though untrained as an architect . . . came up with a design [for McDonald’s stores] that was simple, memorable, and archetypal. On two sides of the roof he put golden arches, lit by neon at night, that from a distance formed the letter M.

Related Symbols: Golden Arches
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

The Golden Arches, in Schlosser's estimation, are one of the great design innovations and trademarks of mid-century America. They are instantly recognizable, and were no small reason why McDonald's became lodged in the American consciousness so soon after the war. The Arches were associated with a cheap, fun, easy place to eat - and to eat as a family, after a ride along the highway, especially in California where the brand began. The Arches thus took on the optimism, indeed the utopian quality that early franchised fast food assumed in the American consciousness. They were, in short, arches symbolizing progress over backwardness, cleanliness and comfort over difficulty, uniformity and expectedness over messy, unpredictable individuality.

Over time, the Golden Arches have remained a symbol of McDonald's, and they have moved that symbolism into other countries, where McDonald's is now prevalent. The Golden Arches are thus, in many parts of the world, a symbol not just of cheap food but of American influence, of the manner in which fast food-style eating has become the norm for people in all walks of life. 

When I first met my wife . . . this road here was gravel . . . and now it’s blacktop.

Related Characters: Carl Karcher (speaker), Eric Schlosser
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Carl Karcher of Carl's Jr. believes, and not incorrectly, that fast food restaurants played a large role in the modernization of the American West. They certainly did - it is hard to dispute the idea that freeways, suburbs, and fast food shaped the way Americans recreated and moved through space. What separates Karcher from Schlosser, however, is the idea of this being a good, or positive, development for American society. Karcher sees fast food as an engine of economic growth that made the West, along with myriad suburban developments, livable for a large number of people. Before Karcher, the West was nothing more than a set of paths and land for grazing livestock. 

But this idea of the West as a rugged, natural, untouched place is, for Schlosser, an important one. Fast food really did change the American landscape, and Schlosser argues it did not change it for the better. Patterns of food consumption are one thing. But as the book progresses, Schlosser will go on to describe the ways that food production - namely farming and herding techniques - were negatively altered in order to accommodate large food conglomerates. 

Chapter 2: Your Trusted Friends Quotes

This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog. I’ll kill ‘em, and I’m going to kill ‘em before they kill me. You’re talking about the American way of survival of the fittest.

Related Characters: Ray Kroc (speaker)
Related Symbols: Golden Arches
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

Ray Kroc's idea of McDonald's franchising, and the business model that keeps McDonald's afloat, is very different, in this telling, from the positive image the company projects in its restaurants and advertising. McDonald's succeeded, and continues to succeed, according to Schlosser, because it is a restaurant that understands the amorality and occasional brutality of the market. McDonald's restaurants therefore are strongly anti-union, because they consider labor law to be an impediment to corporate profits and growth. They are also opposed to any of the social safety net policies that might protect their workers over time. Indeed, McDonald's restaurants run best, for Kroc, when they are staffed with people who do not stay very long - who therefore can claim no seniority and therefore no higher wages or extra benefits.

Likewise the franchises, once established, must perform well and court customers or else risk being taken over by other nearby restaurant chains. McDonald's strategy of ruthless competition therefore prizes corporate profits above all else - and makes the dining experience all the more "streamlined," meaning mass-produced, impersonal, and, ultimately, inexpensive.

Chapter 3: Behind the Counter Quotes

Despite all the talk in Colorado about aerospace, biotech, computer software, telecommunications, and other industries of the future, the largest private employer in the state today is the restaurant industry . . . [it] has grown faster than the population.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser takes great pains to link the fast food industry to what he views as the larger, underlying economic dislocation that has happened in the American West since the Second World War. He chooses Colorado because it is, in his words, a place a lot like California was in the 1950s (he is writing in the 1990s) - a region with lots of land, lots of people willing to work for relatively low wages, and a combination of high-tech and service-industry jobs.

Schlosser then notes that, despite the media emphasis on Colorado as a place where new technologies are created and used, its economy derives its strength largely from the kinds of jobs that go unreported: jobs that involve people working at Hardee's or McDonald's or Chik-fil-A, often without much by way of training, and with significant turnover. By explaining this aspect of the fast food industry, then, Schlosser is helping to describe an important part of the "boom" economies of the end of the 20th century in the United States, and suggesting why such "booms," when they are built on such high-turnover, low-skill work as the fast food industry, inevitably lead to "busts." 

Every Saturday Elisa Zamot gets up at 5:15 in the morning. It’s a struggle, and her head feels groggy as she steps into the shower. Her little sisters, Cookie and Sabrina, are fast asleep in their beds. . . .

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker), Elisa Zamot
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

What makes Elisa's story so impactful - and causes Schlosser to relate it here - is not that it's unique, but rather it is the norm for a great many workers in the fast food industry. Wages for people in Elisa's position are often extremely low, and hours can be hard to come by; thus workers will take whichever shifts are offered, which is why Elisa must wake up so early to commute to the closest McDonald's.

In examining the labor practices of the fast food industry, Schlosser takes pains to show that workers are treated not so much as individuals, but rather as "components" of a much larger system of food production. This system, he argues implicitly, is mirrored in the packing of meat and in other aspects of the factory farming that provide the food for McDonald's to cook and process. In this way, the fast food industry's practices have shaped the practices in related fields - to the detriment of those working in the industry. 

The fast food industry pays the minimum wage to a higher proportion of its workers than any other American industry. Consequently, a low minimum wage has long been a crucial part of the fast food industry’s business plan.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

One of the most important aspects of the fast food industry is the continual depressing of costs. Because fast food can be produced using a system of linked smaller cooking processes, rather than a single cooking process undergone by one person from start to finish, the actual labor involved in fast food production is relatively easy to convey. 

Thus, McDonald's tends not to value this labor particularly highly, and makes sure to resist any efforts to unionize on the part of workers - which would make it more difficult to hire and fire workers, thus forcing McDonald's to pay wages appropriate to the work that is already being done. Schlosser notes the fine line McDonald's, and similar fast food companies, maintain - they wish to retain workers long enough to stack their stores, but not so long as to cause those workers to earn raises, which would in turn raise the company's cost and eat into its profits. 

Chapter 4: Success Quotes

As franchises and chain stores opened across the United States, driving along a retail strip became a shopping experience much like strolling down the aisle of a supermarket. Instead of pulling something off the shelf, you pulled into a driveway. The distinctive architecture of each chain became its packaging . . . .

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Related Symbols: Golden Arches
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser here notes a feature of suburbanized American life in the 1990s and early 2000s - the transition, in local economies, from local "Mom and Pop" stores to larger chains, whose economies of scale allow them to sell goods and services at much lower prices, and thus force local stores, who do not have these economies of scale, out of business. Big box stores and other national chains are, like fast food companies, designed to be uniform. Variation between one store and the next is frowned upon. Thus commercial strips on highways in the suburbs surrounding major cities look largely the same. They contain the same stores, in the same configurations, and sell mostly the same products for the same prices. 

Schlosser argues that this system, which is good for the big box stores participating in it, is not nearly so good for the consumer, who often has a more limited set of choices as to where to buy goods. This, not to mention the monotony of encountering the same several stores on each commercial area in a given suburban region. 

Chapter 5: Why the Fries Taste Good Quotes

Since 1980, the tonnage of potatoes grown in Idaho has almost doubled, while the average yield per acre has risen by nearly 30 percent. But the extraordinary profits being made from the sale of french fires have barely trickled down to the farmers.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage describes another example of what Schlosser considers the economic erosion of the second half of the twentieth century in the United States. Because of the nature of ruthless economic competition in the farming industry - and the practices that cause farm conglomerates to form increasingly fewer, and vastly larger, corporations - the margins on any particular crop are driven far lower. This makes it difficult for small farmers to make money selling most crops. Only the largest of companies, who sell the most crops at a particular low price (and for low profit), can sell enough to continue to stay in business.

This economic system, in which money is concentrated within an industry among conglomerates, is not a "true" or "good" manifestation of market capitalism (Schlosser believes), but is instead an unfortunate byproduct of it. He believes, further, that certain forms of regulation could ensure economic competition and keep prices reasonable while also keeping smaller-scale farmers in business. 

Chapter 6: On the Range Quotes

Toward sunset we spotted a herd of antelope and roared after them. That damn minivan bounced over the prairie like a horse at full gallop, Hank wild behind the wheel . . . we had a Chrysler engine, power steering, and disk brakes, but the antelope had a much superior grace, making sharp and unexpected turns, bounding effortlessly . . . .

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker), Hank
Related Symbols: Ranchers
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

In a book of economics and summarization, this is a scene of more or less pure description. Schlosser takes up Hank's story (and includes this scene of admiration for the natural beauty and power of the antelope) because Hank, he believes, is an exemplar of what he considers best in American farming: a sense of integrity, a willingness to work hard to make one's living, and a belief that ethical business practices are best for nature, the environment, and the consumer. Hank, however, is a rancher from the old guard, and most new factory farming ranch outfits do not care about the land the way he does. Factory farm companies are not invested in protecting the farms around Colorado Springs because they do not, largely, exist for the benefit of local communities. Instead, large factory farm companies are multinational, seemingly based nowhere, and they produce goods only to maximize profit and serve the bottom line.

As Schlosser will report, too, these large farming conglomerates are not kind to small business owners, and people like Hank, who try to work "the right way," are largely shut out of the industry before long - unable to provide for their families. 

Many ranchers now fear that the beef industry is deliberately being restructured along the lines of the poultry industry. They do not want to wind up like chicken growers—who in recent years have become virtually powerless, trapped by debt and by onerous contracts written by the large processors.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ranchers
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

The poultry industry, by Schlosser's logic, is an example of economic deregulation run amok. Farmers can barely make enough money selling chickens to larger distributors to cover the cost of feed and overhead for the next month, and high customer demand does not correlate with high profits for the initial chicken producer - the small farmer. Indeed, the worldwide craze for chicken nuggets, which Schlosser notes is an important part of the "second" boom in fast food sales in the decades following the Second World War, seems only to enrich those who run the franchises and purchase chicken meat in bulk. Local chicken farmers have little to no say over whom they wish to sell to, as only a small number of companies control the industry.

To the extent that the cattle ranchers are capable, then, they wish to work for themselves, and to maintain that independence that Schlosser views as so central to the American West, and to business ethics in general.

The suicide rate among ranchers and farmers in the US is now about three times higher than the national average. The issue briefly received attention during the 1980s farm crisis, but has been pretty much ignored ever since. Meanwhile, across rural America, a slow and steady death toll mounts. As the rancher’s traditional way of life is destroyed, so are many of the beliefs that go with it.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ranchers
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser is clearly affected by the death of Hank, who commits suicide in part over despair at his inability to make a living cattle ranching in Colorado. Schlosser does not necessarily hold large agricultural companies directly responsible for the upsurge in farmer suicides, but he does believe a wide variety of factors, including economic difficulties, put an incredible burden on farmers that is very, very difficult to lift. And without adequate public health services, including mental health services, many of these farmers' needs go unanswered.

Schlosser walks a fine line in the text between advocacy for the positions of disenfranchised farmers like Hank and for fast food workers continually bilked of their already meager pay by management. But he also wishes to report on things - not so much to editorialize as to make clear just how out-of-joint the fast food industry can be. Occasionally, however, this reporting becomes tinged with a personal anecdote, like the story of Hank - making that story all the more affecting. 

Chapter 7: Cogs in the Great Machine Quotes

Greeley became a company town, dominated by the Monfort family and ruled with a compassionate paternalism. Ken Monfort was a familiar presence at the slaughterhouse. Workers felt comfortable approaching him with suggestions and complaints.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker), The Monfort Family
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser again walks a fine line between valorizing an old economic system, which he understand to have problems of its own, and attempting to depict honestly the real difficulties and deficiencies of the system of agricultural production that replaced it throughout the United States during the era of deregulation, which Schlosser dates to the 1970s and '80s. The Monforts were by no means a perfect family, and they did not run their business as a charity; they were businessmen, and their workers were not paid any more than they had to be. But those workers were at least supported in their work, knew their bosses, and the Monforts believed in helping those who worked at the plant at least to some extent.

The system replacing this, in which a large and depersonalized agricultural conglomerate slashed wages and benefits, produced no such goodwill between workers and their bosses. This might have resulted in slightly higher corporate profits, but it did not help to support those families whose incomes derived from the meatpacking industry. And this, by degrees, harmed the towns in which these meatpacking plants were located. 

Far from being a liability, a high turnover rate in the meatpacking industry—as in the fast food industry—also helps maintain a workforce that is harder to unionize and much easier to control.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

This is the same logic that Schlosser identifies in the fast food industry itself, where McDonald's, for example, wishes only to train workers sufficiently so they can stay on the job for a matter of months, only to quit or be fired. Workers with a small amount of experience are somewhat useful, but meatpacking, like the fast food industry, has become so streamlined as to require relatively little human activity or skill. This means that human beings, once so central to the production of food in the United States, are rapidly becoming secondary to that process.

Schlosser notes again and again that in meatpacking, as in fast food, the concept of "throughput" is increasingly important: that is, the amount of material that can work its way through a production system in a timely manner. If throughput is all that counts, and if machines can aid in parts of the production of meat, then humans amount to no more than a small sliver of that production process. 

Chapter 9: What’s in the Meat Quotes

Every day in the United States, nearly 200,000 people are sickened by foodborne disease, 900 are hospitalized, and fourteen die. . . . Most of these cases are never reported to the authorities or properly diagnosed. The widespread outbreaks that are detected . . . represent a small fraction of the number that actually occurs.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section of the book, Schlosser makes plain some of the problems associated with factory farming - problems that affect the consumers of meat and poultry far more than they affect the producers. For work environments like the meatpacking plant Schlosser visits are low on safety regulations and high on "throughput," meaning that a great deal of product is pressed through the assembly line in a very short amount of time. This gives safety inspectors, already tasked with making sure that other parts of the factory are safe and secure, with examining far more of the meat or poultry product than can be adequately examined in the time allotted. The result is a simple statistical reality - the lessening of safety standards over time will, inevitably, produce meat and poultry that are less safe to eat. And these less safe products will cause some to get sick - and some proportion of the sick will die - all to serve ideals of greater efficiency and profit. 

The pathogens from infected cattle are spread not only in feedlots, but also at slaughterhouses and hamburger grinders. The slaughterhouse tasks most likely to contaminate meat are the removal of an animal’s hide and the removal of its digestive system . . . if a hide has been inadequately cleaned, chunks of dirt and manure may fall from it onto the meat.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

The problem with maintaining a high-quality and clean packing environment is a complex one. It requires the buy-in of large numbers of people at the plant - all of whom, to make sure they are doing their jobs fully, should be protected with safe jobs and with benefits, to encourage good work. Workers should receive staff oversight and should labor in the presence of trained regulators, who can spot problems long before they become potential illnesses far down the line.

But Schlosser believes that the ethos of deregulation, in which government spending of any kind (in the '70s, '80s, and '90s) was considered inherently bad, caused food inspections to trail off significantly. In these instances, then, plants that normally would have been inspected with regularity instead allowed things like animal skin and unwashed body parts to seep into the supply chain - thus resulting in serious illness for a small number of consumers unfortunate enough to eat tainted meat. For Schlosser, however, these problems are not an inevitable consequence of the plant or of packing itself. They are a consequence of a government that does too little to support those who work in some of the country's most important industries. 

In addition to letting meatpacking executives determine when to recall ground beef, how much needs to be recalled, and who should be told about it, for years the USDA allowed these companies to help write the agency’s own press releases about the recalls.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage offers another example of how radical deregulation can skew incentives and protect company profits over the needs of the consumer and the best interests of society at large. Considered rationally, of course, it would make no sense at all for companies to "regulate themselves" and make sure they were producing meat cleaned to the utmost standards - for companies who wish to save money will, in part, cut down on regulatory costs, meaning that the company has no financial incentive to make its food safe (as long as widespread illness doesn't inspire distrust in the consumer, and harm the "bottom line"). Only the government, or another trained third-party arbiter, can determine the safety and security of the meatpacking process. And this safeguarding requires at least a certain amount of government investment and oversight.

But, as Schlosser notes, Republican governments, especially in the West, view this kind of oversight as a "violation" of the rights of those businesses to engage in private enterprise as they see fit. All this serves mostly to protect corporate profits as the expense of consumer safety. 

Chapter 10: Global Realization Quotes

As the fast food industry has grown more competitive in the United States, the major chains have looked to overseas markets for their future growth. The McDonald’s Corporation recently used a new phrase to describe its hopes for foreign conquest: “global realization.”

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser's passage here points out some of the inherent absurdities of the corporate position. Schlosser believes that McDonald's is expanding for one reason, and for one reason only - to make money, more of it, by finding new populations who will buy their hamburgers, fries, and nuggets. But "global conquest" would not be a particularly marketable term for this, nor would it play well with investors, who wish to maintain McDonald's language the notion of community. Thus "global realization" makes it seem that McDonald's is fulfilling for people exactly what they want - that the company is only "realizing" the desires of those who, for so long, have had to go without cheap, uniformly produced food.

This kind of corporate language, which veils actual meanings and instead uses euphemisms designed to mislead, is, for Schlosser, another indication of the way that money transforms industries. The larger the company, the greater its interest in protecting itself and its profits - and the greater its distance from the reality of actual describing its motives and methods. 

As people eat more meals outside the home, they consume more calories, less fiber, and more fat. Commodity prices have fallen so low that the fast food industry has greatly increased its portion sizes, without reducing profits, in order to attract customers. The size of a burger has become one of its main selling points.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

Although Schlosser touches on this idea relatively little, it is important to note just how unhealthy and devoid of nutritional value fast food is. Fast food, as Schlosser notes throughout, is designed to sell itself, to make itself irresistible to those who wish to buy it. Fast food companies therefore have no interest in producing healthy options. Instead, they cater their food exactly to what customers want, or think they want - the tastes they crave, without adequate information about where the food comes from, or what its actual nutritional content is.

Again, Schlosser does not seem to think that all fast food companies should be strictly healthy establishments. But Schlosser does believe that the industry's single-minded pursuit of profit at all costs causes it to neglect other imperatives, which include the feeding of very large numbers of people. When McDonald's cares only about satisfying people's taste buds, on a long-term scale, people who eat there for long enough become unhealthy - and Schlosser makes no qualms about pointing out this connection between fast food and ill health. 

Epilogue: Have It Your Way Quotes

Today’s fast food industry is the culmination of larger social and economic trends. The low price of a fast food hamburger does not reflect its real cost—and should. The profits of the fast food chains have been made possible by losses imposed on the rest of society. The annual cost of obesity alone is now twice as large as the fast food industry’s total revenues.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser here attempts to use economic language to show why fast food is actually not so "cheap" a proposition for society as it might initially seem. Fast food, after all, produces, as in any market, "externalities," or consequences beyond the market forces of supply and demand that nevertheless might influence supply and demand in the future. Thus, if people eat too much McDonald's and become unhealthy as a result, there will be other drags on the economy - more people, for example, might require certain kinds of expensive healthcare, causing healthcare costs to rise, which in turn might cause other aspects of the economy to be harmed (prompting inflation, for example). In this last chapter Schlosser wishes to make plain just how dangerous fast food and corporate farming practices can be, not just for the consumer who eats the foods, but for those who live in a society dominated by this form of unhealthy, and utterly profit-minded, form of food production. 

[At the fast food counter], think about where the food came from, about how and where it was made, about what is set in motion by every single fast food purchase, the ripple effect near and far, think about it. Then place your order. Or turn and walk out the door. It’s not too late. Even in this fast food nation, you can still have it your way.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker)
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser makes plain that he is not blaming or vilifying people for eating fast food. Nor is he necessarily and always blaming those who produce fast food. New technologies in manufacturing and related fields have, in the twentieth century, produced great capabilities in industry, opportunities for humans to do good for one another, to make far more food available for one another - literally to feed the world. But Schlosser argues that there are good ways to do this and bad ways. There are ethical ways, that take into account economic and physiological realities, and there are unethical ways, that focus only on the short-term monetary gain for a relatively small number of people.

Thus Schlosser asks only that the reader consider all the aspects of food production before making a choice about food consumption. It might not change the world entirely, or in one day - but it would perhaps cause changes in consumption that could eventually alter the methods by which food arrives ready to be eaten. This kind of enlightened consumption would then be a start to a healthier and more fairly distributed system of reward in the food industry. Schlosser earnestly believes this might work - and urges the reader directly, in this passage, to take his message to heart.