Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Journalist takes aim at food industry

Best-selling author Eric Schlosser to speak in Ketchum


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo, Eric Schlosser, bestselling author of “Fast Food Nation” and executive producer of the Oscar-nominated film “Food, Inc.,” will give a lecture at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m.

Food is important to Eric Schlosser, the best-selling author of "Fast Food Nation" and executive producer of the Oscar-nominated film, "Food, Inc." Schlosser will visit Ketchum as part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' lecture series on Thursday, Feb. 24. Schlosser will give a lecture at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for Center members and $35 for nonmembers. To buy tickets, visit www.sunvalleycenter.org, call 726-9491 or stop by The Center in Ketchum.

"I'm going to talk about food, and I think in honor of The Center, I will talk a little bit about French fries," Schlosser said in a phone interview.

He said French fries are one of his most favorite foods on the planet.

"I love crispy, salty ones," he said. "McDonald's [French fries] taste pretty good, but I don't want to give them money."

In "Fast Food Nation," Schlosser writes about the deplorable conditions and inhumane practices of the fast-food industry. In addition, his film "Food, Inc." reveals how the American food supply is controlled by only a few corporations that put profit before consumer health.

"I really wish Monsanto were only making chemicals and not taking control over the food supply," Schlosser said.

However, Schlosser said he is optimistic and change is happening.

"People think my work is so dark, and I am a despairing person, but I am positive," he said. "When people realize what they are eating, they don't want to eat like that anymore."

< Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" celebrates 10 years in publication this year. He said it's amazing that when he first published the book, none of it was discussed in the mainstream media.

"What has changed is a nationwide food movement and a totally different political culture about food," Schlosser said. "It's a big army now."

He said that when people see what industrial food is and what it does to their bodies, they want to change their diets.

"I think the most encouraging thing of what I do is when I spend a week in the fall and the spring on college campuses," he said. "I see really smart, idealist kids who want to change the food system."

Schlosser said he thinks Michelle Obama is on the right track and is a good model for young people.

"Nutritional education is very important for children," he said.

He acknowledged, however, that food habits are hard to break because they are formed so early in life.

A graduate of Princeton University, Schlosser has been a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly since the mid-1990s. In addition to being the author of "Fast Food Nation," which was on The New York Times bestseller list for nearly two years, he also wrote "Reefer Madness", which advocates the decriminalization of marijuana, and "Chew on This,"which was co-written with Charles Wilson. "Chew on This" introduces young readers to the health effects of fast food and the workings of industrial agriculture.

In addition to his work as a writer, Schlosser served as an executive producer and co-wrote the feature film "Fast Food Nation" and was an executive producer of "There Will Be Blood."

Shchlosser said he will talk about the current food system in the U.S. as well as the rising food movement in the nation.

Sabina Dana Plasse: splasse@mtexpress.com




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