A film that stinksA couple of nights ago some friends and I saw Fast Food Nation. Expecting a stylized documentary, I was completely surprised to see a boring drama embodying all of the issues Schlosser carefully documents in the book. I was left disappointed and somewhat nauseous -- not from the graphic slaughterhouse scenes, but from the social conditions of meatpacking workers, an effect I think the director intended to evoke. It's unfortunate that, as a film, it wasn't particularly interesting and was somewhat heavy handed (e.g. explaining fecal coliforms as "poop in the meat" for those who didn't get it, and that all of the Mexicans suffered predictably awful fates). But there were some great details, such as the fast food clerks entering customer demographics into their cash registers to be broadcast to corporate headquarters. And this weird kid who looked like Johnny Depp. And the suction-cup gun rack.
In general, though, I'd strongly recommend the book over the movie to people wanting to learn more about the social, environmental, and economic impact of the American food industry. Or at least watch the entertaining "Super Size Me" instead (including the DVD extra interview with Eric Schlosser). In the last two years I've read a bunch of food and social justice books (Omnivore's Dilemma, Heat, Fast Food Nation, Nickel and Dimed, Not Buying It, Calm Energy), and they really have affected my consumer footprint. I still go on Target runs and buy produce shipped from California, but I now buy less and choose local when possible. I worry about becoming preachy, but it's somewhat appalling to me that people continue to eat at fast food restaurants. It makes me wonder if there's anything I'm currently doing that is that ethically questionable.
Speaking of fecal coliforms--from Snarkland: "I am always saying [that] as fecal colorforms, as if you could stick them to a storyboard and move them around almost indefinitely."