Day 36: Why the Fries Taste Good

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Taco Town Spoof, McLibel, Real Food

Welcome to Day 36!

Today’s file is from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, “Why the Fries Taste Good.” Schlosser does a stellar job at showing how one important food product – the potato french fry – was a major player in the fast food industry we know today, whose extreme overuse by the public has contributed to many of the health ills we are experiencing in the U.S.

Our favorite selection from this chapter concerns the flavorists who have invented artificial favorings such as:


Typical Artificial Strawberry Flavor – Ingredients

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Bur­ger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobuty­rate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglyci­date, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), (X­ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ke­tone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, Y­undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

Yuck. We can do better with simple, abundant strawberries, no?

What this book really is is an exposé on how far industrialized agribusiness has gone to reduce agriculture to an industrial, corporate, large-scale enterprise. Next to books like The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation is truly one of the best pieces of work available on the fascinating and yet perilous condition of western food production.

So, while you and I may take on the fast food industry by not supporting it (and shopping at FARMER’S MARKETS when possible), some people have taken the fast food giants to court.

McLibel: The Documentary


Two activists take on McDonald’s in the longest trial in English history.

McLibel is the inside story of how a single father and a part-time bar worker took on the McDonald’s Corporation. Filmed over three years, the documentary follows Helen Steel and Dave Morris as they are transformed from anonymous campaigners against the fast food giant into unlikely global heroes. Struggling to defend themselves in the longest trial in English history, the pair face infiltration by spies, secret meetings with corporate executives, 40,000 pages of background reading and a visit from Ronald McDonald.

Using interviews with witnesses and reconstructions of key moments in court, McLibel examines the main issues of the trial – nutrition, animals, advertising, employment, the environment – and the implications for freedom of speech.


On a real-foods note, we are asked many times about how we eat greens. One of the reasons that we have a strong blender like the Vita-Mix is to make soups in it. We make great creamy soups with sesame tahini, avocado, red bell pepper, onion, tomato, kelp, olives, spinach, parsley, romaine, radish, yellow squash, cucumber… we blend these up in a matter of minutes and eat more minerals for lunch than many Americans get in a month.

Our immune systems are, therefore, receiving the best, as are our heart, liver, kidneys, and digestive health… We will be providing you plenty of resources for live foods preparation during this program–enough for you to be a chef! Stay tuned for The Four Means to Get Your Greens on Day 83!

Please enjoy the humorous and serious videos at right that illustrate the ridiculous nature of our Fast Food Nation!

And keep giving your body the best juice ever!

See you in The Green Room!


Day 36: Introduction with David and Katrina Rainoshek

Theme Music: “Keep the Customer Satisfied” by Simon and Garfunkel

Trailer: Fast Food Nation

SNL Spoof: Taco Town

Author Eric Schlosser discusses Fast Food Nation.

Trailer: King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from.

See the FULL Film in the Media & Documentaries Section below!

The 10 Companies that Own The Food Industry

Today’s Downloads

Why the Fries Taste Good Cover.png

why the fries taste good and fast food nation

Eric Schlosser is an incredible journalist, author, speaker, and proponent of better foods for a healthier nation. If you have not read the book Fast Food Nation, do consider adding it to your library. It is a fascinating read that you won’t forget, and it makes an excellent book to lend.

Online Articles

The Chain Never Stops by Eric Schlosser in Mother Jones

Kenny Dobbins was hired by the Monfort Beef Company in 1979. He was 24 years old, and 6 foot 5, and had no fear of the hard work in a slaughterhouse. He seemed invincible. Over the next two decades he suffered injuries working for Monfort that would have crippled or killed lesser men. . .

 Q&A with Eric Schlosser on PBS

In this interview excerpt, Eric Schlosser, award-winning journalist and author of the book “Fast Food Nation,” discusses the state of the American food system.

To read the full interview, check out the book Food, Inc. ed. by Karl Weber

 McLibel: British Activists Sued for Distributing McDonald’s Flyers Win Court Case

Two activists sued by McDonalds in Britain won their case against the British government, in a case that could change UK libel law forever. The European Court of Human Rights said the UK legal system breached the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression. Activists David Morris and Helen Steel were sued by McDonalds in 1990 for handing out leaflets called “What”s Wrong with McDonald’s”, accusing the company of paying low wages, cruelty to animals used in its products and dozens of other malpractices.

McDonald’s won and was awarded £40,000 in libel damages. But the so-called “McLibel Two” refused to pay at the end of a trial. Yesterday, they won their claim that the libel trial was unfair–in the longest civil or criminal action in English legal history.

Great Books

By Eric Schlosser

Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. That’s a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Schlosser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning.

Schlosser’s myth-shattering survey stretches from California’s subdivisions, where the business was born, to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike, where many of fast food’s flavors are concocted. Along the way, he unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths — from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production, popular culture, and even real estate.

By Eric Schlosser

In the New York Times bestseller Chew on This, Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson unwrap the fast-food industry to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at a business that both feeds and feeds off the young. Find out what really goes on at your favorite restaurants—and what lurks between those sesame seed buns.

Praised for being accessible, honest, humorous, fascinating, and alarming, Chew On This was also repeatedly referred to as a must-read for kids who regularly eat fast food. Having all the facts about fast food helps young people make healthy decisions about what they eat. Chew On This shows them that they can change the world by changing what they eat.

Chew on This also includes action steps, a discussion guide, and a new afterword by the authors.

By Karl Weber

Food, Inc. is guaranteed to shake up our perceptions of what we eat. This powerful documentary deconstructing the corporate food industry in America was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “more than a terrific movie—it’s an important movie.” Aided by expert commentators such as Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, the film poses questions such as: Where has my food come from, and who has processed it? What are the giant agribusinesses and what stake do they have in maintaining the status quo of food production and consumption? How can I feed my family healthy foods affordably?

Expanding on the film’s themes, the book Food, Inc. will answer those questions through a series of challenging essays by leading experts and thinkers. This book will encourage those inspired by the film to learn more about the issues, and act to change the world.

By Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan and Maira Kalman come together to create an enhanced Food Rules for hardcover, now beautifully illustrated and with even more food wisdom.

Michael Pollan’s definitive compendium, Food Rules, is here brought to colorful life with the addition of Maira Kalman’s beloved illustrations.

This brilliant pairing is rooted in Pollan’s and Kalman’s shared appreciation for eating’s pleasures, and their understanding that eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. Written with the clarity, concision, and wit that is Michael Pollan’s trademark, this indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely. Kalman’s paintings remind us that there is delight in learning to eat well.

The hardcover Pollan-Kalman collaboration will be the Food Rules edition that families will pass down for posterity, sharing lessons for eating healthfully-and joyfully-for all their lives.

By Steve Ettinger

A pop-science journey into the surprising ingredients found in most common packaged foods

Like most Americans, Steve Ettlinger eats processed foods. And, like most consumers, he didn’t have a clue as to what most of the ingredients on the labels mean. So when his young daughter asked, “Daddy, what’s polysorbate 60?” he was at a loss—and determined to find out.

From the phosphate mines in Idaho to the oil fields in China, Twinkie, Deconstructed demystifies some of the most common processed food ingredients— where they come from, how they are made, how they are used—and why. Beginning at the source (hint: they’re often more closely linked to rock and petroleum than any of the four food groups), we follow each Twinkie ingredient through the process of being crushed, baked, fermented, refined, and/or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder—all for the sake of creating a simple snack cake.

An insightful exploration of the modern food industry, if you’ve ever wondered what you’re eating when you consume foods containing mono- and diglycerides or calcium sulfate (the latter a food-grade equivalent of plaster of paris), this book is for you.

Media, Films, & Documentaries

[Lecture] Moving Beyond Fast Food Nation | Peter Singer and Eric Schlosser

Peter Singer and Eric Schlosser explore the broad and compelling issues and ethical dilemmas surrounding food production in the U.S. and the choices individuals make regarding the food they eat.

[Report] J.R. Simplot Now Polluting Idaho’s Rivers | The Daily Show

JR Simplot: Now Polluting Idaho’s Rivers.

When you read today's file, "Why the Fries Taste Good," you will learn about the history of JR Simplot and his domination of the potato and french fry market with McDonald's. Still up to no good after all these years... The phosphates they are harvesting from Idaho (and pollute Idaho waters with selenium) are for industrial farming of potatoes. Thanks to Jon Stewart and the Daily Show crew for bringing this one to light.

[Comedy] Lewis Black: The End of the Universe

[Documentary] McLibel

This is the official, full-length (81 min) version of the 2005 documentary, McLibel. This film was made completely independently (no studio/broadcaster backing) over four long years. We're a tiny independent film company always struggling to make ends meet, so if you watch for free here, please make a donation - - and also sign up to our email list: .

[Film/DVD] Fast Food Nation with Greg Kinnear

If you’re still eating that fast-food burger after watching Super Size Me, you might not feel too hungry after watching Fast Food Nation, a fictionalized feature based on Eric Schlosser’s bestselling nonfiction expose.

Director Richard Linklater, who cowrote the screenplay with Schlosser, guides a topnotch ensemble cast through a peek behind the veil of how that Big Mac is born. Much of the film focuses on the illegal immigrants who work in the loosely regulated meat-packing industry, and actors including the luminous Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace), who plays a desperate but outraged laborer.

Greg Kinnear also delivers a spot-on performance as a fast-food chain marketing manager, trying frantically to discover the source of stomach-turning contamination in the company’s meat. Stories are woven in unexpected ways, and cameos by the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Arquette, and especially Bruce Willis keep the narrative fresh.

The film has a point of view, but thanks to Linklater’s deft touch, is never didactic. As Willis’s character slyly says, “Most people don’t like to be told what’s best for them.”

Agreed, yet Fast Food Nation likely will help the viewer be more conscious of what’s on the end of that fork.

[Documentary] King Corn

King Corn examines America’s health woes through the multifaceted lens of one humble grain. Director Aaron Woolf and co-writers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis offer irrefutable proof that the US is virtually drowning in the stuff. Corn meal, corn starch, hydrologized corn protein, and high fructose corn syrup fuel a multitude of products, from soft drinks to hamburgers. The starchy vegetable grows with ease and government subsidies insure over-abundant production.

Woolf documents the 11-month effort of college friends Cheney and Ellis, who trace their ancestry to the same small Iowa town, to raise their own crop. After finding a farmer willing to lend them an acre, they meet with agronomists, historians, and other experts before plowing, seeding, and spraying. Prior to harvesting, the easygoing Yale grads travel to Colorado to compare the grass-fed cattle of yore with today’s corn-fed counterparts; then to New York to explore the links between corn syrup, obesity, and diabetes.

With assistance from author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), a whimsical score, and stop-motion animation–farm toys and corn kernels–Woolf and associates bring biochemistry to vivid life. On a micro level, this genial eye-opener celebrates friends and farmers; on a macro level, King Corn bemoans the subsidies and genetic modifications that have turned a formerly protein-filled product into the fatty “yellow dent no. 2.” Bonus features include a music video, photo gallery, and “The Lost Basement Lectures,” an amusingly fake instructional movie about the aims of agriculture.

I Am Active

Inside the Superhuman World of the Iceman | Wim Hof

At first glance Dutchman Wim Hof is an average, affable guy, yet he is capable of extraordinary acts. Known as the "Iceman" due to his ability to control his core body temperature in extreme conditions, Superhuman: Iceman follows Hof as he trains Vice correspondents Matt Shea and Daisy-May Hudson in his meditation technique in an attempt to prove that anyone is capable of exercising mind over matter with the same level of aplomb.