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Chew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson


Chew on This

Kids love fast food. And the fast-food industry loves kids: it couldn't survive without them. They are, after all, the industry's biggest consumers. In the national bestseller Chew on This, available in paperback April 2007, the award-winning journalists Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson share with young readers the fascinating and sometimes frightening truth about what lurks behind those sesame seed buns. Addressing the same issues as Schlosser's groundbreaking Fast Food Nation, the authors focus on the aspects that will interest preteens the most — the nonconformist entrepreneurs who founded the industry; the mistreatment of animals in slaughterhouses and of employees in restaurants; the shocking effects that too much fast food can have on growing bodies; and the impact of the industry on schools, communities, and the earth.

Chew on ThisA national best-seller, Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser & Charles Wilson shows young readers they can change the world by changing what they eat. This video gives a taste of the fascinating, sometimes frightening truths the book exposes about the fast-food industry. People magazine applauded the book for "giving kids a sense of their own power," while the Washington Post says Chew on This "should be required fare before the next lunch bell rings."

The book begins with a historical look at the beginnings of the fast-food industry, illustrating how its growth helped change the urban and rural landscape of America, paving the way for the chain stores and malls of today. Young readers will get an intriguing view of business history when they learn how high school dropouts and traveling salesmen started the restaurants they frequent. They'll see how the introduction of chain restaurants both benefits and harms small communities all over the country.

Stomachs will turn and tempers will flare as the authors shine a light on the grisly conditions in a chicken slaughterhouse, explain how market research firms study kids, and learn how those delicious fast-food smells are manufactured at a factory in New Jersey. The disgusting facts in Chew on This — and there are plenty of them — will surprise and scare readers. For example:

• A single fast-food hamburger may contain meat from hundreds, even thousands, of different cattle.
• Each can of soda contains more than ten teaspoons of sugar.
• A single animal infected with E. coli 0157:H7 can contaminate 32,000 pounds of ground beef.
• Chickens in slaughterhouses are sometimes killed by being thrown against a wall or stomped on.
• Leftover waste from cattle slaughterhouses is sometimes added to chicken feed.
• Leftover waste from chicken slaughterhouses is sometimes added to chicken feed, turning the doomed birds into cannibals.

"What we eat changes not only how we look on the outside but also how we look on the inside," writes Schlosser. To explain the point, the authors include a "tour" of the human body with the renowned heart surgeon Mehmet Oz. Dr. Oz illustrates in graphic detail the difference between healthy and diseased body parts and explains what can happen to those who stick to a fast-food diet.

More than an exposé of the fast-food industry, Chew on This is explicit about why kids need to be informed. The authors profile real teens whose lives have been affected by fast food. They talk to an eighteen-year-old boy who decides to have gastric bypass surgery; a twelve-year-old girl in Alaska who launched a "Stop the Pop" campaign to remove soda machines from her school; a teenage boy who helped unionize the McDonald's franchise where he worked — the first to do so — only to see the restaurant close shortly after; and two sisters living on a traditional ranch.

Chew on This addresses some of the most serious issues affecting our society, and its strongly fact-based narrative style, startling statistics, and eye-opening photographs will keep readers turning the pages. The average American child views 40,000 television commercials per year, almost half of which promote junk food. There are roughly 9 million overweight or obese children in America and no reason to think that this number is shrinking. Corporations will continue to exploit workers, underpay farmers, and manipulate consumers unless they are forced to stop. Educators, parents, and health professionals have an important role in educating and helping young people make healthy decisions about the food they eat.

The overwhelming response to the 2006 publication of Chew on This underscores the message of choice behind the book. The Washington Post said, "With its discussion of alternatives . . . Chew on This puts a nice, empowering spin on the old Burger King jingle, 'Have it your way' . . . This should be required fare before the next lunch bell rings." Change will come about only when young people themselves decide to think twice before they order a fast-food hamburger, fries, and a soda. Chew on This shows them that they can change the world by changing what they eat.






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