Fast Food Nation
In 2002, author Eric Schlosser, a correspondent for the Atlantic Herald, came out with a ground breaking book called “Fast Food Nation” which takes us through a sordid maze of deception, cover up, lies, fraud and both animal and human cruelty that has unfortunately become all too common in the meat packing industry today. This was even turned into a 2006 movie release of the same name.
If you only saw the movie, then you missed virtually all of the “meat and potatoes” of this story because the movie was but a pale shadow of the mind blowing information contained in the book.
The movie mostly focused on the plight of the immigrant laborers who work in the meat packing plants. These plants are the main suppliers of the meat, chicken and other foodstuffs sold in the fast food industry.
The book covers every aspect of the fast food industry. From the truly horrible and inhumane conditions of the animals themselves from birth till death, to the often slave like conditions of the plants where the mostly immigrant and poor workers toil in 12 hour shifts or longer each day and more.
Fast Food nation is a thoroughly well researched book that has won worldwide praise for its author Eric Shlosser. Eric was able to gain access to feed lots, slaughter houses and even the J.R. Simplot plant in Aberdeen, Idaho where millions upon millions of French fries are made on a daily basis. The majority of which are mostly destined for area McDonald`s restaurants.
The fast foodindustry came out in strong protest against his book saying that they don’t agree with his conclusions. At the same time when asked if there were any errors in the book the same industry said “no” that they could not find any errors in his facts or figures at all.
How Science is used to Deceive
The meat and other foods sold at fast food restaurants bears little to no resemblance to actual freshly cut meat. Food scientists employ a number of very deceptive and clever techniques to fool the senses into thinking that such foods are tasty and healthy. Science has discovered many chemicals that can exactly emulate the smells of fresh foods found in nature.
For example; Ethyl-2-methyl butyrate smells just like an apple. Adding methyl-2-peridylketone makes something taste like popcorn. Ethyl-3- hydroxybutanoate makes something taste like marshmallow. On and on these combinations go and it can all be done without effecting the appearance or nutritional value of the processed foods. These ingredients can be listed as “natural flavors” on the labels, even on foods that are listed as “organic”
At the Lamb Weston plant in American falls, Idaho, Eric Shlosser saw how the French fries undergo an amazing amount of scientific testing and chemical tweaking to attain just the right taste, consistency, mouthfeel, cooking time and even after taste. At one point they had him close his eyes and he was asked to identify various foods just from their smell. When the first sample was brought him he said “hmmm apples”. When the next sample was brought to him he said “French fries”, the third smelled just like a hamburger. Upon opening his eyes and expecting to see each of the foods present, all he saw was a scientist in a lab coat holding small white pieces of paper under his nose. These were the samples of the chemicals used to make fast food taste and smell so good.
This process is certainly not limited merely to fast food or French fries. At the IFF (International Flavor and Fragrances) plant in Dayton, NJ, Eric saw how chemicals that make nearly every single food or product sold on the market today taste and smell just as they do. Some of these products include; toothpastes, colognes, pop tarts, frozen and restaurant foods, ice cream, snack cakes, cookies, mouthwashes, antacids, potato chips, corn chips, breakfast cereals, soft drinks, sports drinks, bottled teas, beer, wine coolers, all natural juice drinks, frostings, dishwashing detergents, floor waxes, shampoo, soaps, furniture polish, and the list goes on and on.
Why such a focus on the aroma of food, because up to 90% of the taste of a food is actually linked to its aroma. Of course if the food is healthy and fresh, why do they need to add aroma and taste back into the food? Simple, because the food sold at most if not all fast food restaurants is so degraded, so old and of such poor quality that if you actually were to see it’s color and smell it before all of this chemical processing, you would never put such foods into your stomach. This is especially true of the meats that are sold at fast food restaurants.
This is a major reason why reading those labels and eating as much organic, unpackaged and unprocessed foods as possible is so incredibly vital to health and longevity. Too often even foods that are labeled as “natural” or “organic” will contain many of these chemical potions. Eating as much raw foods such as fruits, vegetables and locally grown meats is about the only way to make sure that you’re not consuming foods with these myriad of chemicals in them.
What Color is the Food?
Aroma is not the only tweaking that goes into fast foods. The color of food also has a lot to do with it’s perception of flavor. This is by design because we know that color often indicates whether a food is ripe or rancid. In the early 1970′s an experiment was done where people were given an “oddly tinted” meal of steak and French fries that appeared normal under the colored lights they were subjected to. Everyone thought that the food tasted fine that is until the lighting was changed. As soon as people saw that the steak was actually blue and the fries were green, people were shocked and several even became ill.
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