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Fast Food Nation | Epilogue : Have it Your Way | Summary


Key Takeaways

  • The Epilogue offers examples of ambitious restaurant owners and ranchers providing alternatives to the fast food industry. Eric Schlosser then makes a call to action, with specific suggestions for Congress and recommendations for readers.
  • Colorado rancher Dale Lasater continues to operate a successful independent ranch, selling free-range, grass-fed beef.
  • Colorado Springs restaurant owner Rich Conway runs the family operated Conway's Red Top Restaurant. Conway's makes food by hand and provides health insurance for employees.
  • California hamburger chain In-N-Out Burger pays the industry's highest wages, makes fresh food daily, and gets high ratings from consumer groups.
  • Schlosser argues that fast food's dominance came from certain social and economic trends, but it wasn't inevitable, nor has free market capitalism and competition been responsible for the industry's growth. On the contrary, American corporations in other sectors have deliberately put their rivals out of business as well. Legislation rather than the free market has been far more important in shaping the post–World War II economic growth.
  • Schlosser sees the 20th century as a struggle against totalitarian political systems and sees the 21st century as a struggle against corporate power.
  • Calling for a national movement to counter the damage the fast food industry has done, Schlosser makes several recommendations to Congress and federal agencies:
    ◦ Ban all children's advertisements promoting foods high in fat and sugar.
    ◦ Eliminate tax breaks for chains that "churn through their workers" and that keep job skills to a minimum.
    ◦ Enforce minimum wage, overtime, and child labor laws.
    ◦ Insist any food delivered to schools follow the highest safety standards possible.
    ◦ Create a single food safety agency, toughening and enforcing food safety laws.
    ◦ Increase OSHA fines and penalties for workers injured or killed at slaughterhouses.
    ◦ Allow meatpacking workers to form labor unions.
    ◦ Enforce the antitrust laws governing large food processing and agribusiness companies.
    ◦ Eliminate "veggie libel laws," which penalize anyone who criticizes "agricultural commodities."
  • Schlosser emphasizes that consumer pressure is the quickest way to make change.
  • Consumers should hold McDonald's accountable for the treatment of its slaughterhouse workers and the actions of its suppliers.
  • McDonald's has made changes in the past when faced with consumer criticism, including hiring minorities and switching to recyclable packaging.
  • Consumers are so powerful, Schlosser says, they can effect change from "a good boycott, a refusal to buy." He reminds readers they still have a choice in whether or not they purchase fast food.
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