Chicken, Labor, and Immigration

Steve Striffler’s ‘Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food’ shows the ingrained tensions and contradictions of the American industrial food machine. Chicken touches on topics of labor rights, food justice, and immigration reform while staying in touch with the central conversation of looking at the transformation taking place in the Chicken industry. The way Striffler employs the prospective of consumer to grab the readers attention is a brilliant way to ease people into the more macro topics that is touched upon later in the book, such as the way Tyson abuses immigrant laborers. Small scale Farmers lost control of chicken marketshare to the en mass production that large for profit agribusinesses pumped into the market, especially after the second world war and the new wave of meatpacking businesses. Since the rise of Tyson in the post war period agriculture has been defined by mergers and growing sense of big business. These macro businesses utilize and deploy tactic of pure evil to keep their workers at bay, such as the treats of deportation on illegal immigrant labor. The pressure, intensity, and pain while working can be overwhelming for many workers especially with the looming threat of losing everything you work for but these workers also have a sense of pride in their work; whereas they see their labor repercussions throughout all of society so much so it’s Americas favorite food. The workers Striffler covered need to embrace this pride and connect with UFCW and unionize to make their shops better for themselves and their fellow workers.

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