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.
"Striffler presents the first in-depth look at the rise of the chicken industry in late twentieth-century America. The story is vivid, engaging, andand#8212;in chapters dealing with Mexican and other immigrant chickenworkersand#8212;riveting."and#8212;Deborah Fitzgerald, author of Every Farm a Factory
and#8220;A gripping and deeply sobering view of and#8216;big chickenand#8217; from the bottom up. Strifflerand#8217;s experience on the (dis)assembly line, his sympathetic grasp of the hopes, dreams, and origins of the workforce, and of the larger history of the industry, make for a uniquely powerful and memorable book.and#8221;and#8212;James C. Scott, Yale University
"With gripping prose and clear analysis, Striffler'sandnbsp;Chicken
brings workers, growers, consumers, as well as bird together around one big, unhappy table. His treatment of Mexican immigrant workers at Tyson's, in
particular, is a model of modern-day ethnography."and#8212;Leon Fink, editor of Labor: Working-Class History of the Americasandnbsp;
"Modern chicken production and consumption is embedded in a fascinating web of political, economic, social, and even psychological factors that need to be described, understood, and questioned. Steve Striffler, combining scholarly analysis with his remarkable brand of participatory research, has produced a masterful book, one I will recommend widely."and#8212;Kelly Brownell, Yale University
"Extraordinarily powerful. . . . This book will do for chicken what Fast Food Nation
did for beef."andnbsp;and#8212; Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
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.