Ten years ago, "Fast Food Nation" made a big impact. If you needed a reason to never eat another McDonald's hamburger again, this book gave you several. References to "The Jungle" abounded, and the book is still an oft-cited reference when discussing the fast food industry.
Over at the Daily Beast, author Eric Schlosser reflects on the past decade and ultimately comes to the conclusion that his book is not out of date. He explains:
More than a decade has passed since Fast Food Nation was published, and I’d love to report that the book is out of date, that the many problems it describes have been solved, and that the Golden Arches are now the symbol of a fallen empire, like the pyramids at Giza. Sadly, that is not the case. Every day about 65 million people eat at a McDonald’s restaurant somewhere in the world, more than ever before.
In the piece, Schlosser mentions many alarming facts about obesity and health -- two thirds of the adults in the United States are obese or overweight, for example. Despite these, there are positive changes as well, believes Schlosser. People care more now about issues like sustainability and organic food than they did 10 years ago. He cites examples such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' success in getting major fast food establishments to pay more to the people harvesting their food. And there are numerous organizations with the goal to bring healthy food to individuals in low-income communities.
All in all, Schlosser remains hopeful that in the next 10 years, more significant changes will occur:
Everything that I've learned since Fast Food Nation was published has made me more, not less, optimistic about the possibilities for change. I believe, more than ever before, that nothing about our current food system was inevitable. And when things aren't inevitable, that means things don't have to be the way they are. I hope that 10 years from now this book really is irrelevant--and that the world it describes, so full of greed and lacking in compassion, is just a bad memory.
Read his full piece -- the afterword to the 2012 edition of "Fast Food Nation" -- over at the Daily Beast.