The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business

Christopher Leonard. Simon & Schuster, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4581-1
In the heated debate on food safety and availability, there have been other serious tomes about the national leviathan farming firms, but Leonard, former national agribusiness reporter for The Associated Press, pulls off a stunning feat in putting the heat on the major industrial meat giants. The hardest body blows are landed by Leonard on Tyson Food, the nation's biggest meat company, whose production and distribution practices were previously hush-hush, due to a rigid code of silence and potential retaliation on those who snitch. Founded during the Great Depression, Tyson Foods fashioned a highly profitable empire through smart alliances with bankers, creating a network of local contract farmers and keeping them on a short economic leash while controlling the entirety of the supply chain. Most alarming is the portion of the book that deals with the shortening of the amount of time it takes to raise a chicken, going from 73 days to 52 days during 1955 to 1982. Although Leonard devotes the lion's share of this exposé to Tyson Food, he also catalogues the feverish lobbying, clever patronage, and masterful financial and political schemes among the other giants, all in service of providing product cheaper and faster to the market. Best for those readers who want to know the origins of the animal products they are putting in their mouths. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-0071-9
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4516-4583-5
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4516-4584-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-4945-5071-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-3071-6
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