I think I read the non-fiction book in high school or before college for summer reading. That is one of the most influential books I've read. Here is how I'm influenced by that book.
1. Idaho Russet Potatoes
The type of potato used to make French fries, as mentioned in the book, is Idaho Russet Potatoes. That name just sticks in my head. Every time I see Idaho Russet Potatoes in the grocery store, I immediately think of Fast Food Nation and French fries. Idaho Russet Potatoes are very starchy, so when you dip these potatoes in hot oil, all that starch and oil can provide a lot of calories. Potatoes are a great staple food, if you are too low on calories in your diet.
2. Meat-Packing and Immigrants
The book goes really in depth about the meat industry. It talks about the slaughterhouses and the meat-packing plants. The cattle is used to make beef burgers; the chicken is used to make chicken nuggets and chicken sandwiches. However, what I find most striking is the employment and abuse of illegal immigrants in the meat-packing plants. Illegal immigrants and poor Americans provide cheap labor. One olive-skin girl works really hard in a fast food restaurant, and at the end of the day, she makes meager earnings and a free fast food meal. Illegal immigrants fare much worse than American workers. Female illegal immigrants may be sexually harassed and exploited by their male bosses. Female illegal immigrants don't report the harassment, because they are illegal immigrants and fear getting deported, and because they want a more comfortable and less dangerous job position in the factory.
3. From-Cradle-To-Grave Marketing Strategy
Fast food restaurants have a long-term marketing strategy, and that is to aim the advertisements at children. The children are taught to associate pleasure with fast food and get hooked to the brand name for life. When I watched Super Size Me (2004), Morgan Spurlock talked about the said marketing strategy, but he didn't explicitly use the same expression as Eric Schlosser. Spurlock joked that he would bop his children on the head whenever they would pass a McDonalds to create a negative association. Nevertheless, I got what he was saying and immediately thought of "cradle to grave" approach of marketing in Eric Schlosser's book, Fast Food Nation.
As a personal anecdote, I am not totally immune to the cradle-to-grave marketing strategy. When I was a young child, I really wanted one of the cute toys. The only problem was, my parents extremely rarely ate out. We would always eat a home-cooked meal of steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables/meats. The only times when we actually ate out were times when we were moving long-distance from one State to another or when we were traveling or when we invited a special guest.
On those rare occasions, I asked my parents to take me to McDonalds, because I really wanted a cool toy. However, I was not sure how to get one and ordered one of the regular meals instead, which came with no toy. I didn't know that I actually had to order the Happy Meal to get the toy. Fortunately, there was one day at a yard sale where I found a whole bag of miniature Barbie dolls. Some of them had the McDonalds brand name logo on top, so at least I got to play with McDonalds toys that way.
Based on my circumstances, McDonalds and other fast food restaurants just didn't really impress a big brand loyalty in me, and their high prices usually turn me away. Also, my parents' scolds for eating out too much have conditioned my brain to avoid eating out and find healthier, cheap food in grocery stores. One can easily find frozen vegetables at Dollar Tree instead of picking one-dollar items on the Dollar Menu. Five bags of frozen vegetables at Dollar Tree can probably last for a couple of days. Five items on the Dollar Menu may not be enough to feed one person for a day. Which one is more economical? Dollar Tree wins.