From Publishers Weekly
From a vivid account of working as the "flour boy" breading chicken on the line to a detailed expose of the human rights abuses of "Big Chicken," Striffler's concise text offers a perspective fans of Fast Food Nation will appreciate. Though aimed at a scholarly audience (parts of the book were presented at a conference on chicken at Yale), Striffler's fast-paced narrative, rich with personal detail, will be enjoyed by readers outside of the university setting. Striffler, an associate professor of Anthropology of the University of Arkansas, worked for two summers at a Tyson plant. "Look, we're all Mexican here. Screwed-over Mexicans," explains a co-worker as Striffler eats fried chicken with a group of diverse line workers, many (but not all) of whom emigrated from Mexico to work in processing plants. Rural southern communities have responded to the shifting racial makeup of their towns in often reactionary ways (Siler City, the town where Striffler worked, was the site of a KKK rally in 1999), yet the factory provides both a quasi-family for workers as well as an exploitive work environment. Striffler expands upon the current arguments for organic or sustainable chicken production to include human-friendly chicken with strict production guidelines, but he seems to have just scratched the surface with this slim volume.
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"Striffler presents the first in-depth look at the rise of the chicken industry in late twentieth-century America. The story is vivid, engaging, and—in chapters dealing with Mexican and other immigrant chickenworkers—riveting."—Deborah Fitzgerald, author of Every Farm a Factory
“A gripping and deeply sobering view of ‘big chicken’ from the bottom up. Striffler’s experience on the (dis)assembly line, his sympathetic grasp of the hopes, dreams, and origins of the workforce, and of the larger history of the industry, make for a uniquely powerful and memorable book.”—James C. Scott, Yale University
(James C. Scott)
"Modern chicken production and consumption is embedded in a fascinating web of political, economic, social, and even psychological factors that need to be described, understood, and questioned. Steve Striffler, combining scholarly analysis with his remarkable brand of participatory research, has produced a masterful book, one I will recommend widely."—Kelly Brownell, Yale University
"With gripping prose and clear analysis, Striffler's Chicken brings workers, growers, consumers, as well as bird together around one big, unhappy table. His treatment of Mexican immigrant workers at Tyson's, in
particular, is a model of modern-day ethnography."—Leon Fink, editor of Labor: Working-Class History of the Americas
"Extraordinarily powerful. . . . This book will do for chicken what Fast Food Nation did for beef." — Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health