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Jack Adams
Jack Adams

How Fast Food Is Ruining Your Health, the Environment, and Society: Chew On This

Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food

Do you love fast food? Do you crave burgers, fries, soda, nuggets, and pizza? Do you enjoy getting toys with your meals, playing in playgrounds, and watching ads with your favorite characters? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to think twice before you order your next combo meal.

Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want To Know About Fast Food.epub

Fast food may seem cheap, convenient, tasty, and fun, but it comes with a hidden cost that you may not be aware of. Fast food is bad for your health, the environment, and society. It can make you sick, obese, diabetic, and depressed. It can pollute the air, water, and soil. It can exploit workers, animals, farmers, and children. It can undermine democracy, diversity, and culture.

Don't believe it? Then you should read Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. This book is based on Schlosser's best-selling book Fast Food Nation (2001), which exposed the dark side of the fast food industry. In Chew On This (2006), Schlosser and Wilson present their findings in a way that is accessible and engaging for young readers.

In this article, we will summarize some of the main points from Chew On This and give you some facts that will make you rethink your relationship with fast food. We will also give you some alternatives that will help you eat better and live healthier.

The History of Fast Food

Fast food is not a natural or inevitable phenomenon. It is a product of human invention and innovation. It has a history that can be traced back to the late 19th century in America.

The Pioneers

The first fast food item was the hamburger. It was invented by a cook named Charlie Nagreen in 1885 at a county fair in Wisconsin. He flattened a meatball and put it between two slices of bread, making it easy to eat on the go. He called it a "hamburger" after the German city of Hamburg, where many immigrants came from.

The first fast food restaurant was the drive-in. It was invented by a car salesman named Royce Hailey in 1921 in Texas. He opened a stand that sold hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks to drivers who parked their cars in front of his window. He called it the Pig Stand, and it was a hit with motorists.

The first fast food chain was McDonald's. It was invented by two brothers named Dick and Mac McDonald in 1948 in California. They redesigned their drive-in restaurant to make it more efficient and profitable. They simplified their menu, reduced their prices, and increased their speed. They called it the Speedee Service System, and it was a hit with customers.

Other fast food chains followed suit, such as Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Subway. They copied the McDonald's model of franchising, which allowed them to expand rapidly and dominate the market. They also competed with each other by offering different products, prices, and promotions.

By the end of the 20th century, fast food had become a global phenomenon. It spread to other countries and cultures, adapting to local tastes and preferences. It also influenced other industries and sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, media, education, and health.

The Youngster Business

One of the main reasons for the success of fast food is its appeal to children. Fast food companies know that children are their most loyal and profitable customers. They spend billions of dollars every year to attract and retain them.

Fast food companies use various strategies to target children, such as:

  • Offering toys with their meals, such as Happy Meals from McDonald's or Kids Meals from Burger King.

  • Building playgrounds in their restaurants, such as PlayPlaces from McDonald's or Playlands from Burger King.

  • Advertising on TV, radio, internet, magazines, billboards, and buses, using cartoons, celebrities, mascots, and slogans.

  • Sponsoring sports teams, events, programs, and charities that are popular with children.

  • Partnering with schools to provide food, equipment, materials, and funds in exchange for access to students.

Fast food companies also use psychology to influence children's behavior and preferences. They exploit children's natural curiosity, impulsiveness, peer pressure, and desire for fun. They create a sense of familiarity, loyalty, and identity with their brands. They make children feel special, happy, and rewarded when they eat their food.

The Reality of Fast Food

Fast food may look good on the surface, but it hides a lot of ugly truths behind the scenes. The fast food industry is a complex system that involves millions of people, animals, plants, machines, chemicals, and resources. It has a huge impact on the environment and society.


The fast food industry employs millions of workers around the world. Most of them are young, unskilled, part-time, and low-paid. They work in restaurants as cooks, cashiers, The Secret of the Fries

One of the most popular and addictive items on the fast food menu is the fries. They are crispy, salty, and tasty. But do you know what makes them so good? It's not just potatoes and oil. It's a lot of chemicals and artificial flavors.

Fast food fries are made from specially bred potatoes that are grown in large monocultures with heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers. They are harvested, washed, peeled, cut, blanched, dried, fried, frozen, and shipped to restaurants. There, they are fried again in oil that contains trans fats, which are linked to heart disease and obesity.

Fast food fries are also coated with various substances that enhance their color, texture, and flavor. Some of these substances are derived from natural sources, such as sugar, salt, corn syrup, and beef extract. Others are synthetic, such as sodium acid pyrophosphate, dimethylpolysiloxane, and natural flavor. These substances can have negative effects on your health, such as increasing your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.

Stop the Pop

Another staple of the fast food diet is the soft drink. It is sweet, fizzy, and refreshing. But do you know what's in it? It's not just water and sugar. It's a lot of chemicals and additives.

Soft drinks are made from carbonated water that is mixed with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and preservatives. They contain no nutritional value and a lot of calories. A typical 12-ounce can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. A typical 32-ounce cup of soda has about 26 teaspoons of sugar and 400 calories.

Soft drinks can have harmful effects on your health, such as:

  • Causing tooth decay and erosion by dissolving the enamel on your teeth.

  • Increasing your risk of diabetes by overloading your pancreas with sugar.

  • Contributing to obesity by adding empty calories to your diet.

  • Weakening your bones by leaching calcium from them.

  • Affecting your mood and behavior by altering your brain chemistry.


The main attraction of fast food is the meat. It is juicy, tender, and flavorful. But do you know where it comes from? It's not from happy cows or chickens. It's from factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Fast food meat is produced from animals that are raised in crowded, filthy, and stressful conditions. They are fed with genetically modified corn and soybeans that are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. They are injected with hormones and antibiotics that make them grow faster and prevent diseases. They are transported in trucks that expose them to extreme temperatures and injuries. They are killed in assembly lines that are fast, brutal, and unsanitary.

Fast food meat is also processed with various techniques that alter its quality and safety. Some of these techniques are:

  • Grinding: Mixing different cuts of meat from different animals into a uniform mass.

  • Filling: Adding water, salt, starch, soy protein, and other substances to increase the weight and volume of the meat.

  • Shaping: Forming the meat into patties, nuggets, strips, or other shapes using molds or extruders.

  • Breading: Coating the meat with flour, breadcrumbs, spices, and other ingredients to improve its appearance and taste.

  • Cooking: Heating the meat to kill bacteria and extend its shelf life.

  • Freezing: Chilling the meat to preserve it for long periods of time.

Fast food meat can have negative effects on your health, such as:

  • Causing food poisoning by contaminating the meat with bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter.

  • Increasing your risk of cancer by exposing you to carcinogens such as nitrites, nitrates, heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

  • Raising your cholesterol and blood pressure by adding saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol to your diet.

  • Triggering allergic reactions by introducing foreign proteins and chemicals to your body.

  • Contributing to antibiotic resistance by transferring genes from bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

The Alternatives to Fast Food

Fast food may seem hard to resist, but it is not impossible to avoid. There are many alternatives that are healthier, more ethical, and more sustainable. You just need to be aware, informed, and motivated.


One way to resist fast food is to join or support social movements and campaigns that challenge the power and influence of the fast food industry. These movements and campaigns aim to raise awareness, expose the truth, demand change, and offer solutions. Some examples are:

  • The Slow Food movement: A global network of people who promote local, organic, and traditional food cultures and cuisines.

  • The Food Not Bombs movement: A grassroots organization that provides free vegetarian meals to people in need and protests against war, poverty, and hunger.

  • The Meatrix: A series of online animations that parody The Matrix movies and expose the reality of factory farming and its consequences.

  • The Super Size Me movie: A documentary film that shows the effects of eating only McDonald's food for 30 days.

  • The Fast Food Nation movie: A drama film that depicts the lives of various characters involved in the fast food industry.

  • The Food Inc. movie: A documentary film that examines the corporate control and environmental impact of the food system.

Your Way

Another way to resist fast food is to make your own choices and take control of your eating habits. You can do this by following some simple tips, such as:

  • Eat well: Choose a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products, eggs, fish, and lean meat. Avoid processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt, and additives. Read nutrition labels and ingredient lists carefully. Drink water instead of soda or juice.

  • Bake, roast, grill, or steam your food instead of frying or microwaving it. Use non-stick pans or cooking spray instead of oil or butter. Use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk or cream. Use honey, maple syrup, or fruit juice instead of sugar.

  • Grow your own food: Plant a garden in your backyard, balcony, or windowsill. Grow herbs, vegetables, fruits, or flowers. Use organic seeds, soil, and compost. Water and weed your plants regularly. Harvest and enjoy your produce.

  • Support local farmers: Buy food from farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, or co-ops. Choose food that is in season, organic, and fair trade. Talk to the farmers and learn about their practices and products. Thank them for their work.


Fast food may seem like a good idea at first, but it is not worth it in the long run. It can harm your health, the environment, and society. It can also rob you of the joy and satisfaction of eating real food.

Chew On This is a book that will open your eyes and make you think twice about fast food. It will also inspire you to take action and make a difference. You have the power to change your eating habits and demand better food. You have the right to know what you eat and where it comes from. You have the responsibility to care for yourself, others, and the planet.

So next time you feel hungry, don't just grab a burger and fries. Chew on this instead.


Here are some frequently asked questions about fast food and their answers:

How often should I eat fast food?

  • There is no definitive answer to this question, as different people have different needs and preferences. However, most health experts agree that fast food should be eaten sparingly, as an occasional treat rather than a regular habit. A good rule of thumb is to limit your fast food intake to once a week or less.

What are some healthy options at fast food restaurants?

  • If you do decide to eat at a fast food restaurant, you can still make some smart choices that will reduce the negative impact on your health. Some tips are: order smaller portions or share with someone; choose grilled or baked items over fried or breaded ones; skip the cheese, bacon, mayo, and other high-fat toppings; ask for extra lettuce, tomato, onion, or other vegetables; opt for water, milk, or juice over soda; and avoid desserts or choose fruit-based ones.

What are some alternatives to fast food when I'm in a hurry?

  • sandwiches, wraps, salads, or soups from delis, cafes, or grocery stores; sushi, noodles, or rice bowls from Asian restaurants; burritos, tacos, or quesadillas from Mexican restaurants; pizza slices or pasta dishes from Italian restaurants; or fruit, yogurt, granola bars, or nuts from convenience stores.

How can I get involved in the movement against fast food?

  • There are many ways to get involved in the movement against fast food and for better food. Some of them are: read books, watch movies, listen to podcasts, or visit websites that educate you about the issues and solutions; sign petitions, join protests, write letters, or contact your representatives to voice your opinions and demands; volunteer, donate, or participate in organizations or projects that support local, organic, and fair food; and spread the word and inspire others to join you.

Where can I learn more about fast food and its effects?

  • There are many sources of information and inspiration about fast food and its effects. Some of them are: Chew On This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson; Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser; The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan; Food Rules by Michael Pollan; In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan; The Meatrix website (; Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock; Fast Food Nation by Richard Linklater; Food Inc. by Robert Kenner; and Fed Up by Stephanie Soechtig.



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