Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America's Favorite Food|
by Steve Striffler (Author)
From Publishers Weekly
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
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
America’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 concerned—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.
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (July 24, 2007)