Sunday, August 12, 2001

Fast Food Nation
I have now been officially reminded to continue fighting the good fights, especially against multinational corporations that exploit young and imigrant workers, encourage unsafe food production techniques, and feed the worst quality and most unsafe food to our children, all the while filling the campaign finance war chests of Republicans in congress who continue to deregulate and even encourage these meat packing and agri-business conglomerates. The fact that Republicans have continuously derailed legislation that would actually allow the USDA to order recalls of dangerous foods, especially tainted, deadly beef, only shows how far in the pockets of these big, ruthless companies they are. Thousands of people get sick, and hundreds, including many children, die every year because of the filthy conditions that allow strains of deadly bacteria to infect meat. This could easily be stopped by slowing down production lines in slaughter houses, which would also reduce injuries and deaths to the workers on those production lines. But this would mean prices of beef would have to go up by as much as two cents a pound. Heaven forbid they should keep the prices the same and just lower the bonuses they give themselves for selling a deadly product that quite literally, has shit in it.

Eric Schlosser's riveting and sometimes terrifying book, Fast Food Nation, takes you inside the industries that make fast food invade the world, spreading disease, obesity, environmental destruction, worker exploitation, and many other imperialistic by-products. His investigative reporting style digs deep into the food production industries that have pushed family farms out of business, killed and maimed workers for higher profits, destroyed the environment of once pristine communities with huge feedlots, poultry farms, and chemically grown potatoes.

And yet, the book is not all doom and gloom. He points out fast food chains like In-N-Out Burgers who pay their workers well, give them benefits, and purchase only the highest quality, fresh food. He focuses on organic beef producers like Lasater Grasslands Beef who are true stewards of the land and the wildlife. The epilogue gave me hope by mentioning Conway’s Red Top in Colorado Springs, where they've taken care of their employees and used the highest quality, freshest ingredients for 50 years.

Finally, Schlosser reminds us that the best way to vote for the good guys and against these destructive practices is with our dollars. As he puts it, they'd sell us ogranic food if that's what we demanded. They'd give their workers decent wages and health care if we didn't eat there otherwise. He asks us to take a good look at what, and how, we eat, and to do something about it. Support your local restarauntuers who use fresh ingredients. Eat at places that make the world a better place, not a worse one.

I'll certainly be getting back to this issue. In the mean time, visit our organic gardening site to keep up with the latest on these, and other issues, that quite literally might save the world (and win valuable prizes)!

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