Compare and Contrast - Part 5

Srika Prathipati
28 May 2007

Compare and Contrast

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The Fast Food Nation written by Eric Schlosser and The Jungle written by Upton Sinclair, are books that deal with the fast food culture and the conditions under which the meat is slaughtered and packed - Compare and Contrast introduction. Both these books give a shocking insight on the reality behind the scenes, and how it is hidden from the public.

The Jungle is the story of a family who migrates to America from Lithuania, and is forced to work in the slaughterhouses of Chicago to meet their daily expenses. The meatpacking plant were the whole family works, is a place were the workers are paid less wages, overworked and exposed to such working conditions which are not fair towards the labor, and the working surroundings very also very dangerous. The neighborhood area of the slaughterhouse is filled with poverty and dirt, with the boarding houses filled with rats, a blazing trash dump on one end, and a big sewage ditch on the other end.

All the members working in the slaughterhouses see the shocking dirt in the plants where the meat is being processed and the disgusting secrets of packing the meat. It is unbelievable but cattle and other animals having various diseases are also processed for eating. (Chpt 3, < TOP1.html>). Even cows that are pregnant and their fetuses are also used for consuming. The sausages and hotdogs were prepared by using a casual combination of dirt, remains of rats, animal parts and any other mess picked up from the floor. There is even one incident when a man working there mistakenly tumbles into a container and ends up being grounded and turned into fat. The fraud and the bribery in these plants are in full swing with bosses demanding bribe and other gifts from the workers. (Chpt 5. < TOP1.html>).

This book also tries to shed some light on the plight of the workers, when they are asked to work the whole day even when work is less, but not paid for the day. It also shows the fraud and the corruption that takes place in the government and gives the views of the main character when he joins a socialistic party. (Chpt 8. < TOP1.html>).

In Fast Food Nation Eric Schlosser also discusses about the meatpacking conditions, but the major part of discussion is about the fast food industry, and how this industry is totally reliant on the meat producing industries for its hamburgers.  There isn’t much improvement in the conditions in the meatpacking industries in the last 100 years. The company does not guarantee the responsibility for the safety of the workers, reasonable wages and food poisoning. The companies opposed the government regulation that called for microbial testing as a part of the inspection of the meat, as it would reveal the truth and reduce their gains.

 This book researches on different fast food chains like McDonald’s and Carl’s, which have a great influence on the American culture and the culture of other countries as well. Schlosser explains how the fast food industry has grown by advertising and other sales promotions, not leaving even school children behind, by putting up fast food centers in schools also. These companies are some of the largest purchasers of meat and beef. These companies also seem to be using the chemical companies, for obtaining chemicals that improve the flavor of the dish, or other chemicals that mask the strong odor coming from a particular dish. The addition of these flavors has become a necessity to please the public. An example to this is that in one of the artificial flavor used around 50 chemicals have been used.

The most alarming part of the book is that, it was found that due to the unhealthy packing and ingredients that went into the packing, food borne pathogens like staphylococcus, salmonella, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and other harmful organisms were found in the meat. The presence of any of these pathogens in food can prove fatal or the person consuming this might be hospitalized. This book tries to show how the meat industries and other fast food chains do not in the least care for the animals, the workers in the meatpacking unit and the general public who have to pay for consuming such unhealthy food.

While The Jungle gives a detailed picture on the lifestyle of the workers, the conditions in which the workers work, what goes on inside the meatpacking unit, and also shows us in how dirty and unhealthy conditions the meat is packed. On the other hand The Fast Food Nation also shows some truths about meatpacking, and how the fast food industries mainly depend on the meat industries for purchasing meat.  The book describes about the fast food industries, their formula of operating and attracting the public.

After comparing both the books, the common point, which stands out, is the unhealthy way in which the meat is packed and sold to the public. The so-called fast food chains will get back its worth, but because of these unhealthy practices, the innocent people consuming this food will have to pay.  The concerned authorities should lay strict rules regarding the safety measures that need to be followed in meatpacking to avoid any health hazards. Inspections of the meatpacking unit should be made regular to check the cleanliness and the working conditions of the meat industries.

Works Cited

Houghton Mifflin, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal, Vegetarian Reading, 23 May 2007, <>.

Upton Sinclair, Plot Summary, The Jungle Book Notes Summary, 23 May 2007, <>.

Upton Sinclair, Topic Tracking: Muckraking, The Jungle Book Notes Summary, 23 May 2007, < TOP1.html>.


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