Eric Schlosser speaks at Rice

Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, spoke at Rice last night as part of their President’s Lecture Series.  I don’t go to these types of things as often as I should, but last night was a reminder about why I should.  I really regretted not having my little notebook with me to make a couple of notes – there were several points that he raised in both his prepared remarks and during the question and answer session that I wanted to look into afterwards.  I wish I could find the text of his prepared remarks somewhere, or better yet a transcript of last night including the Q&A session.  

I started reading Fast Food Nation in preparation for last night’s talk, but I’m only a few few chapters into it so far.

My biggest takeaway was his argument that the abusive labor practices of the meat industry are not a complex, and perhaps intractable, set of problems and issues (like immigration policy, for example), but rather a set of problems that the United States had largely corrected between the 1906 (the publication of “The Jungle” and the policies of Teddy Roosevelt) and the 1970s (the beginning of the decline of meaningul regulation of the meat packing industry). 

This country needs more of Schlosser’s style of muckraking – he combines a lot of passion for his critique with a measured, careful argument.  I wish I could remember the phrase that the speaker who introduced him used – something like “contained anger.”  I know a lot of people who get extremely upset by one problem or another, but I don’t know enough people who actually construct passionate, carefully reasoned arguments that have the potential to change the minds of people who don’t already agree with them.  I would have no problem recommending Fast Food Nation to my most pro-business , anti-regulation conservative friends, because Schlosser is doing more than just preaching to the choir.  If I’m going to bet on somebody changing minds, my money is on folks like Schlosser, not the Michael Moore’s and Rush Limbaugh’s of the world. 


One thought on “Eric Schlosser speaks at Rice

  1. Pingback: Brightrock » Blog Archive » Rice University summary of Eric Schlosser’s

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