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Eric Schlosser  

Investigative Journalist, Author & Producer of "There Will Be Blood"

As an investigative journalist, Eric Schlosser tries to explore subjects ignored by the mainstream media and give a voice to people at the margins of society. Over the years he’s followed the harvest with migrant farm workers in California, spent time with meatpacking workers in Texas and Colorado, told the stories of marijuana growers and pornographers and the victims of violent crime, gone on duty with the New York Police Department Bomb Squad, and visited prisons throughout the United States. His aim is to shed light on worlds that are too often hidden. And his work defies easy categorization, earning praise not only from liberal publications like the Nation, but also from Fortune, the Financial Times, and the National Review.

Schlosser’s first book, "Fast Food Nation" (2001), helped start a revolution in how Americans think about what they eat. It has been translated into more than twenty languages and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. His second book, "Reefer Madness" (2003), looked at America’s thriving underground economy. It was also a New York Times bestseller. "Chew on This" (2006), a New York Times best-selling children’s book, co-written with Charles Wilson, introduced young readers to the health effects of fast food and the workings of industrial agriculture. His next book, "Command and Control" (2013), examines the efforts of the military, since the atomic era began during World War II, to prevent nuclear weapons from being stolen, sabotaged, or detonated by accident.

Before writing non-fiction, Schlosser was a playwright and worked for an independent film company. In recent years he’s returned to those fields. Two of Schlosser’s plays have been produced in London: Americans (2003) at the Arcola Theatre and We the People (2007) at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Schlosser served as an executive producer and co-wrote the feature film Fast Food Nation (2006), directed by Richard Linklater. Their screenplay was named one of the best of that year by New York Times critics A.O. Scott and Mahnola Dargis. Schlosser was an executive producer of "There Will Be Blood" (2008), directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. He was a co-producer and the co-narrator of the award-winning documentary, Food, Inc., directed by Robert Kenner.

Speech Topics

Covid 19 and the Food System

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the flaws, injustices and fragility of America’s food system. But the pandemic has also created an opportunity to build a system that is more sustainable, resilient, and compassionate.

The Hands That Feed Us

Farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and restaurant workers are the foundation of our food economy—but they are also among the poorest, most exploited, most likely to be undocumented workers in the country. If you eat, you are connected to these men and women with every bite.

The Bomb, and Why We Must Remember It

Right now the world faces three great existential threats: climate change, viral pandemics, and nuclear weapons. Of the three, nuclear weapons pose by far the greatest immediate danger yet receive the least attention--a fact that only increases the threat.

The Longest War

Since Ronald Reagan declared the War on Drugs in 1982, millions of Americans have been arrested and imprisoned for non-violent drug crimes—and yet today illegal drugs are less expensive and more readily available than forty years ago. As the sale of cannabis becomes socially acceptable and widely legalized, we urgently need to end the drug war and rethink how we treat people who abuse drugs.

The Risks of Complex Tech

Nuclear weapons, commercial airliners, driverless cars—all three are machines that can go wrong in unexpected ways. As the world grows more and more dependent on complex technological systems, we must keep in mind the flaws inherent in them and maintain a sense of humility about them. In this talk, Schlosser highlights that everything we create is imperfect, often in hidden ways, with potentially catastrophic consequences that need to be managed.

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