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
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. Download and start listening now!