Chicken Blog Post

I really enjoyed this book, as I do most of the readings but that could be because I do love to read about the food industry. When looking at the rise of chicken as a large scale agricultural product, it seems different that other ones. Like farmers in the Delmarva peninsula and Tyson just happened to find a market and profit within chicken and then ran with it. By the 80’s chicken became a wide spread product that was seen in many fast food chains and throughout grocery stores. This wide spread usage was made possible because the industry was able to modify these chickens in order to get them to boiler weight in less time with less feed than in the 1940’s. Its rise in popularity also makes sense in the time frame of WWII since it was the only meat that wasn’t rationed like beef of pork. The government even encourages the public to consume more chicken and eggs to leave the more “desirable” meats for the troops. But as larger companies began to have more control over the industry than the growers, the people who take care of the chickens began to lose earnings because they have more invested into the chickens and the companies but the company has very little invested into these farmers. This integration of the poultry industry and feed companies has become detrimental to both the farmer and the consumer. There has never been “good times” for these farmers, they either have complete chaos within the industry or restricting contracts through these corporations. The first major merger in the poultry industry, Holly Farms, combined all the separate parts that were needed for the industry and combine them into one, so that one company could control everything to lower costs. When Tyson eventually took over Holly, this became the largest agribusiness merger to ever happen. But this merger meant a change in management, which even when the company promised that no jobs would be lost, that is exactly what happens in the company. Then with the rise of unions within the company, employees treatment becomes even worse. Even worse off than the people who work directly for the company such as truckers, are the growers. They put large sums of money into their properties and land and get the rug pulley’s out from under them and no cost to the company, but a life long cost to the grower. Another issue the book brings up is illegal immigrants. Most of these companies rely on immigrant labor for cheap, reliable labor but the government cracks down hard on illegal immigrants and will readily deport these workers. This means that these companies can easily control the futures of these people. This work is also not easy and is most of the time dangerous, but sometimes it is all that a worker may know. Many of the workers in the factory that the author worked in are immigrants. Along with this many workers become injured which also threatens their jobs, because if they are injured then they can’t work. One major group against these type of industrial farms is the Sierra Club, which usually fights against environmental injustice, but lately has been fighting the poultry industry. These companies spend most of their time in court because they are creating issues everyday at their plants. These include environmental violations, breaking child labor laws, and violations of basic human rights when it comes to their employees. There are better chickens becoming available but they’re expensive. However, eventually that chicken could become less expensive along with supporting companies that breed chickens that are healthier and don’t require all of the harmful things that traditional industrial bred chickens do.

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