Justification for Teaching:

Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation is a work of nonfiction that investigates the American fast food industry.

Much like The Jungle exposed ethical issues in the meatpacking industry, Fast Food Nation discusses ethical concerns raised by the fast food industry, including advertising aimed at children, dangerous conditions in the meatpacking industry (some things never change, apparently), the production of tainted meat, and more.

Fast Food Nation is a great book for any classroom because it will spur discussions about all the aforementioned issues. It may also make some students rethink their eating habits and try to live healthier lives — something we can all appreciate.

Key Literary Elements & Techniques

  • Metaphor
  • Symbolism
  • Imagery

Themes and Motifs

  • Ethics — The book reveals unethical practices in the fast food industry
  • Commodification, Commercialism, Commerce — Huge corporations control the fast food industry, they market to children, and they keep prices (and wages) low
  • McDonald's as The Industry — Considered the cornerstone of the fast food industry, McDonald’s represents the influence the industry has on the United States and the rest of the world

Related Works

Themes of Ethics

The Jungle

A Time to Kill

Gulliver's Travels

Commodification, Commercialism, and Commerce


Fahrenheit 451

Moby Dick

Themes of Individual & Society

Twelve Angry Men



Key Facts

  • Length: 383 pages
  • Lexile® Measure: 1240
  • Recommended Grade Band: 10-12
  • Publication Date: 2001


  • New York Times Bestseller


A film version, directed by Richard Linklater, was released in 2006. Unlike the book, the film is a work of fiction.

External Resources:

Fast Food Nation (Wikipedia)

Film Trailer (YouTube)

Interview with author Eric Schlosser (NPR)

Your Students will love:

  • Discussing a topic that is very relevant to the United Sates and to modern families

Students may have problems with:

  • Schlosser's viewpoint on the fast-food industry. Some students may disagree strongly with his points

Available from Prestwick House:


Fast Food Nation — Paperback

Fast Food Nation