On the production line in American packinghouses, there is one cardinal rule: the chain never slows. Under pressure to increase supply, the supervisors of meat processing plants have routinely accelerated production, leading to inhumane conditions, increased accidents, and food of questionable, often dangerous quality. In The Chain, acclaimed journalist Ted Genoways uses the story of Hormel Foods and its most famous product, Spam—a recession-era staple—to probe the state of the meatpacking industry, from Minnesota to Iowa and Nebraska. Interviewing scores of line workers, union leaders, hog farmers, and local politicians and activists, Genoways reveals an industry pushed to its breaking point.
A searching exposé in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, Rachel Carson, and Eric Schlosser, The Chain is a mesmerizing story and an urgent warning about the hidden costs of the food we eat.