Worth reading for this phrase alone, “Big Meat’s lobbyists”, the review brings us an even better phrase, ‘privatizing the gains, but socializing the costs’. This is emblematic of so many of our corporate overlords. Walmart and McD’s are the biggest beneficiaries of the welfare system. Their employees rely on it to survive and their stock holders rely on it to thrive. Big Ag and Big Meat are just as bad, they ruin the environment, poison their customers, profit wildly, and leave ruination and poverty in their wake.
The book being reviewed details the catastrophe of industrialized farming and the societal consequences of cheap meat. I’m not sure if the book presents any answers or alternatives, but Kristof sums it up neatly in his closing, quoted below.
“Even if Tyson did not produce a given piece of meat, the consumer is really only picking between different versions of the same commoditized beef, chicken, and pork that is produced through a system Tyson pioneered,”
Many chicken farmers don’t even own the chickens they raise or know what’s in the feed. They just raise the poultry on contract for Tyson, and many struggle to make a living.
a farm with 10,000 hogs produces as much fecal waste as a small city with 40,000 people, but the hog operation won’t have a waste treatment plant.
The iconic American image of the noble farmer has all but disappeared.
this industrial model has led to a hollowing out of rural America. The heartland is left with a few tycoons and a large number of people struggling at the margins.
It’s easy to criticize the current model of industrial agriculture, far harder to outline a viable alternative. Going back to the rural structure represented by the inefficient family farm on which I grew up in Oregon isn’t a solution; then we’d be back to $6.48-a-pound chicken.
But a starting point is to recognize bluntly that our industrial food system is unhealthy. It privatizes gains but socializes the health and environmental costs. It rewards shareholders — Tyson’s stock price has quadrupled since early 2009 — but can be ghastly for the animals and humans it touches. Industrial meat has an acrid aftertaste.