Friday, September 5, 2014

Diasporic Dining: Fast Food Inc

Fast Food workers across the nation went on strike on Thursday (“Hundreds of Fast-Food Workers Striking for Higher Wages Are Arrested,” NYT, 9/4/14)  And if you walk into one of the chains--Burger King, McDonalds, KFC or Popeye’s, to name a few--you might see what the brouhaha is all about. Many of these outlets bear a strong resemblance to detention camps replete with a resident Sonderkommandant barking at inmates to speed up processing of the lines of potential corpses coming in for their daily feed. The fact that many fast food outlets are manned by minorities also creates the image of the plantation, since the wages paid by these outfits amount to the equivalent of slave labor. The movie Food, Inc. dramatized an infernal process that's camouflaged by the genius of modern packaging and design. There used to be a rumor that through the miracle of modern genetic engineering animal parts rather than animals were being farmed. The prospect of such genetic engineering may lie in the future. But in the meanwhile the conditions under which animals are raised for slaughter on an assembly line like cars, with the precepts of both economy of scale and division of labor removing any residue of human connection, leaves an ineradicable imprint on the process of modern consumption. The food, those serving it and those being fed all lie at the bottom of a modern food chain in which the natural world (and man’s organic relationship to nature) is increasingly excluded. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal--the title of the Eric Schlosser’s book, is more apt today than ever.

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