Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Chew on This by Eric Schlosser

Title: Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know about Fast Food
Author: Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson
Publisher: Sandpiper
Date: April 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0618593941

Plot Summary: An adaptation of the bestselling book Fast Food Nation for a young adult audience, Chew on This takes a critical look at the fast food industry and food production, seeking to inform the readers about what goes on behind the scenes.  It also explains the history of fast food and the impact that eating so much processed food can have.  The book starts off with the history, from the invention of the hamburger in 1885 to the creation of the first fast food chains, including McDonald’s and KFC.  The next section deals with the business side of the industry, particularly how the restaurants are marketed to kids in order to ensure brand loyalty, and even describes the poor working conditions for the laborers who produce Happy Meal toys in China.  This transitions into what it looks like to work at a fast food chain as a low-income worker, including a story about a teenage worker who once worked a nightmarish nineteen and a half hour shift, with only a half hour break.  Next, it covers food production, from how fries are made to what artificial colorings really are, to the practices of the meat industry.  There is a chapter on obesity, then the book wraps up with some promising information about reform in the food industry, from fast food chains offering some healthier options on their menus to the work of Alice Waters, who is reforming school cafeterias.

Critical Evaluation: Chew on This is full of great information about the real workings of the fast food industry, a business that we just take for granted and often don’t think twice about eating.  Like the original book, Fast Food Nation, it starts a discussion about the choices we make – both what we choose to eat and where we spend our money.  Many teens have never received good information about nutrition, so Chew on This has the potential to make a great impact in their lives.  It could definitely be used in a classroom to prompt discussions about these issues.  I would have liked to see a bit more information on the environmental impact that the fast food industry has, including clear-cutting rainforest in order to graze cheap beef for burgers.  The information is presented in a very accessible way, and might appeal more to teens on the younger end of the 14-19 spectrum.  Older teens and those seeking more in depth information could pick up a copy of Fast Food Nation.

Reader’s Annotation: An adaptation of the bestselling book Fast Food Nation for a young adult audience, Chew on This takes a critical look at the fast food industry and food production, seeking to inform the readers about what goes on behind the scenes.

Author Information: Born in Manhattan in 1959, Eric Schlosser is an investigative journalist best known for his books Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness.  Schlosser studied American History at Princeton and received a graduate degree from Oxford University in British Imperial History.  He is also an aspiring playwright – in 2007, he wrote the play We the People about the writing of the US Constitution.

Schlosser lives in California.  He is married to Robert Redford’s daughter, Shauna, and has two children.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Food Industry

Curriculum Ties: Health, Nutrition

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Did this book cause you to reexamine your eating habits?
2) Was there anything you learned that surprised you?
3) What kind of change can you make to impact the way you (and those around you) eat?  What do you think of the work that Alice Waters does?

Interest Age: 12 and older.

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I thought this was an great contribution to my collection because it is such an important topic, and it provides information for teens in a clear and interesting way.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Books | , | Leave a comment