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Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America's Favorite Food
Synopses & Reviews
Anthropologist Steve Striffler begins this book in a poultry processing plant, drawing on his own experiences there as a worker. He also reports on the way chickens are raised today and how they are consumed. What he discovers about Americaand#8217;s favorite meat is not just unpleasant but a powerful indictment of our industrial food system. The process of bringing chicken to our dinner tables is unhealthy for all concernedand#151;from farmer to factory worker to consumer.The book traces the development of the poultry industry since the Second World War, analyzing the impact of such changes as the destruction of the family farm, the processing of chicken into nuggets and patties, and the changing makeup of the industrial labor force. The author describes the lives of immigrant workers and their reception in the small towns where they live. The conclusion is clear: there has to be a better way. Striffler proposes radical but practical change, a plan that promises more humane treatment of chickens, better food for the consumer, and fair payment for food workers and farmers.
"From a vivid account of working as the 'flour boy' breading chicken on the line to a detailed expose of the human rights abuses of 'Big Chicken,' Striffler's concise text offers a perspective fans of Fast Food Nation will appreciate. Though aimed at a scholarly audience (parts of the book were presented at a conference on chicken at Yale), Striffler's fast-paced narrative, rich with personal detail, will be enjoyed by readers outside of the university setting. Striffler, an associate professor of Anthropology of the University of Arkansas, worked for two summers at a Tyson plant. 'Look, we're all Mexican here. Screwed-over Mexicans,' explains a co-worker as Striffler eats fried chicken with a group of diverse line workers, many (but not all) of whom emigrated from Mexico to work in processing plants. Rural southern communities have responded to the shifting racial makeup of their towns in often reactionary ways (Siler City, the town where Striffler worked, was the site of a KKK rally in 1999), yet the factory provides both a quasi-family for workers as well as an exploitive work environment. Striffler expands upon the current arguments for organic or sustainable chicken production to include human-friendly chicken with strict production guidelines, but he seems to have just scratched the surface with this slim volume." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From inside the chicken factory, a report on the real cost of chicken for farmers, workers, and consumers
About the Author
Steve Striffler is associate professor of anthropology, University of Arkansas.
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