Can you imagine a job where you use knives so sharp that you have to wear a chain-mail apron? Well, workers in the meat processing and fast-food industries have to cope with unique conditions. Fast Food Nation is a powerful account of these industries and how they have changed the way Americans eat and, in turn, how our culture is affected.

Fast Food Nation describes how our food was traditionally produced and how it is made today. It takes you inside meat-processing plants. The graphic descriptions of slaughter, waste, and germs contaminating the meat you eat might make you consider becoming a vegetarian.

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This book also shows that traditional methods of producing food are better than modern ways. The author focuses on In-N-Out Burger, a California chain, as an example of how well the old ways work. The reader learns that even though In-N-Out Burger does not have freezers in its restaurants (they use only fresh meat and the fries are made from potatoes sliced every morning), they pay their workers well, and full-time workers receive a great benefits package. Even with these added expenses, In-N-Out Burger is the third most profitable fast-food chain in America.

If you read between the lines, as I did, you can infer that Fast Food Nation is about values and how large companies sometimes lose track of their roots as they grow. Basically, an ideal company would be able to produce the same quality product it did when it was smaller and still treat its employees well. In doing so, the company preserves local culture and is valued by the community. Unlike most nonfiction books, Fast Food Nation is hard to put down. Even though it is disturbing at times, I give it five stars.

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