American way: Founding fathers -- Your trusted friends -- Behind the counter -- Success -- Meat and potatoes: Why the fries taste good -- On the range -- Cogs in the great machine -- Most dangerous job -- What's in the meat -- Global realization -- Epilogue: Have it your way -- Afterword: Meaning of mad cow. Examines the fast-food industry and the changes it has made in American eating patterns while presenting a look at the modern meat-packing industry. 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 here [the author] makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning. [His] myth-shattering survey stretches from California's subdivisions where the business was born to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike where many 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.-Back cover.