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John Thorne Critiques "Fast Food Nation"

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John Thorne Critiques "Fast Food Nation"

John T. | May 21, 2001 11:01 AM

Has anyone had a chance to read the new edition of Simple Cooking? I just finished it. Firstly, 11 or 12 of the 16 pages are devoted solely to criticism of the book "Fast Food Nation." (Two of the remaining are devoted to an index, leaving around two pages actually concentrated in a meaningful way on cooking.)

I have all John Thorne's books, and I normally enjoy the newsletter, but this one leaves me cold and disappointed, and not just at the meager offerings we had to wait three months for. A jumble of long-winded paragraphs on smoking, prohibition, obesity, and Thorne's outdated opinions on finding a job. (In HIS day, he says, kids would have been lucky to find any job, let alone one in a bright, happy place like McDonald's.) He posits McD's as a modern day saloon - a meeting place for men, women, and children - recast without the sin. He makes cunning, irrelevant statements like "[We don't] head for Kentucky Fried Chicken to eat a salad" and thinks, I guess, that this sort of thing renders Eric Schlosser's arguments about the fast food diet moot. And he mocks the idea that having soda as the national drink in schools is bad. It's a specious argument, he seems to be saying, to complain that we drink more soda than milk now because teenaged boys never paid for milk as they do for soda. Huh? (By the way, I paid for milk all through grammar school and high school.)

He basically says that he's been there and done that and grown bored with fast food. That's great, but for an awful lot of people, McDonald's isn't a phase. It's lunch, and dinner, and even (God help us) Egg McMuffins and hash browns, five days a week.

Also: Thorne has little to say on the labor and food safety issues addressed in the book, other than to point to a Times article that indicates that food poisoning can come from fruits as well as meats.

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