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Extended Audio Sample The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food, by Ted Genoways Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ted Genoways Narrator: Michael Kramer Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A powerful and important work of investigative journalism that explores the runaway growth of the American meatpacking industry and its dangerous consequences

On the production line in American packinghouses, there is one cardinal rule: the chain never slows. Every year, the chain conveyors that set the pace of slaughter have continually accelerated to keep up with America’s growing appetite for processed meat. Acclaimed journalist Ted Genoways uses the story of Hormel Foods and soaring recession-era demand for its most famous product, Spam, to probe the state of the meatpacking industry, including the expansion of agribusiness and the effects of immigrant labor on Middle America.

Genoways interviewed scores of industry line workers, union leaders, hog farmers, and local politicians and activists. He reveals an industry pushed to its breaking point and exposes alarming new trends: sick or permanently disabled workers, abused animals, water and soil pollution, and mounting conflict between small towns and immigrant workers.

The narrative moves across the heartland, from Minnesota, to witness the cut-and-kill operation; to Iowa, to observe breeding and farrowing in massive hog barns; to Nebraska, to see the tense town hall meetings and broken windows caused by the arrival of Hispanic workers; and back to Minnesota, where political refugees from Burma give the workforce the power it needs to fight back.

A work of brilliant reporting, The Chain is a mesmerizing story and an urgent warning about the hidden cost of the food we eat.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A muckraker for our times, Ted Genoways goes behind the scenes in the meatpacking industry and shows us how the sausage is really made…An insightful chronicle of a changing American heartland and of lives trampled in the headlong rush to industrialize the food system. Upton Sinclair would surely approve.”

    Dan Fagin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Toms River

  • “Formidably researched and vividly told, The Chain is the definitive story of American pork. Ted Genoways intercuts intimate portraits of towns and factories with longer views of labor, business, and immigration history, making painfully clear the true cost of the ‘other white meat.’”

    Ted Conover, author of Newjack, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

  • “The strongest and most memorable sections of the book explore how poor immigrant workers are treated only somewhat better than the hogs at a Hormel slaughterhouse…Genoways depicts the lives of these workers with great skill and compassion…Although The Chain is ostensibly about the hog industry, it offers insight into the transformation of America’s political culture in the late twentieth century…The Chain…[is an] important book, well worth reading, full of compelling stories, genuine outrage, and the careful exposure of corporate lies.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A searing indictment…[Genoways] writes with passion and a sense of mission…He should get people thinking about the trade-offs that the public makes in return for low-cost meat.”

    Associated Press

  • “A disturbing exposé…Genoways makes a compelling case that the meatpacking industry’s relentless drive for higher output poses a threat to food safety.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “Investigative journalist Genoways provides readers with an exhaustive examination of this industry, shedding light on how it has evolved and expanded to embrace change, demand, and innovation. Accessibly written …Readers curious about meatpacking and agriculture as well as the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the food industry will find Genoways’s nonfiction debut a valuable and stimulating read.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Michael Kramer’s persuasive and unfaltering performance reinforces the disturbing information in this portrait of the American food industry. Kramer’s articulate narration tempers the author’s tone, offering mild intonations and a steadiness that balance the stark, and sometimes shocking, information…Kramer’s good timing and clarity of voice clearly convey the shocking statistics and poignant message about the true price of cheap meat. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”

    AudioFile

  • “This cautionary tale of a leading meat producer…delves into the inner workings of Hormel Foods…[and] discovers that the meatpacking giant often put profits over people…Comparable to Sinclair’s classic exposé, The Jungle, Genoways’ blistering account of the meatpacking industry makes the case for tighter monitoring of this powerful sector of American agribusiness.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A scathing report on the consequences of factory farming…Genoways…shows that little has changed in more than 100 years…[He] tells a sad, horrifying story, a severe indictment of both corporate greed and consumer complacency.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Ted Genoways has crafted an unflinching, intimate portrait of America’s industrialized meat system, centered on pork but conveying lessons that go beyond it. The Chain is a must-read for anyone concerned with our nation’s food system and the phenomenal cost—animal, human, and environmental—of cheap meat.”

    Tracie McMillan, Hillman Prize–winning author of The American Way of Eating

  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
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About the Author

Ted Genoways served as the editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review from 2003 to 2012, during which time the magazine won six National Magazine Awards. He is a contributing editor at Mother Jones and an editor-at-large at OnEarth, and is a winner of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. He is a fourth-generation Nebraskan and lives in Lincoln.