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

Hardcover | February 18, 2014

byChristopher Leonard

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An investigative journalist takes you inside the corporate meat industry—a shocking, in-depth report every American should read.

The biggest takeover in American business that you’ve n ever heard of

The American supermarket seems to represent the best in America: abundance, freedom, choice. But that turns out to be an illusion. The rotisserie chicken, the pepperoni, the cordon bleu, the frozen pot pie, and the bacon virtually all come from four companies.

In The Meat Racket, investigative reporter Christopher Leonard delivers the first-ever account of how a handful of companies have seized the nation’s meat supply. He shows how they built a system that puts farmers on the edge of bankruptcy, charges high prices to consumers, and returns the industry to the shape it had in the 1900s before the meat monopolists were broken up. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the greatest capitalist country in the world has an oligarchy controlling much of the food we eat and a high-tech sharecropping system to make that possible.

Forty years ago, more than thirty-six companies produced half of all the chicken Americans ate. Now there are only three that make that amount, and they control every aspect of the process, from the egg to the chicken to the chicken nugget. These companies are even able to raise meat prices for consumers while pushing down the price they pay to farmers. And tragically, big business and politics have derailed efforts to change the system.

We know that it takes big companies to bring meat to the American table. What The Meat Racket shows is that this industrial system is rigged against all of us. In that sense, Leonard has exposed our heartland’s biggest scandal.

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From the Publisher

An investigative journalist takes you inside the corporate meat industry—a shocking, in-depth report every American should read.The biggest takeover in American business that you’ve n ever heard of The American supermarket seems to represent the best in America: abundance, freedom, choice. But that turns out to be an illusion. The rot...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:February 18, 2014Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1451645813

ISBN - 13:9781451645811

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Let's talk meat Where is our meat coming from? Are the people involved compensated fairly for their labour? How can I, as a consumer, make sure that I'm getting meat of the highest quality at the most competitive price? We tend to take all these for granted when we conveniently shop at the nearest supermarket or dine out. There has been a movement to source locally and support more dedicated meat businesses, but these are far and few between. While "The Meat Racket" looks closely within the US, it is a rapidly expanding issue that will rock the global stage in time to come, as the book points out. Christopher Leonard does a brilliant job with his research, laying them out in a digestible manner that will bring out the rage over the unjustification of how the conglomerates have come to dominate the meat industry, and the lamentations over the misses in initiating reforms to help balance the situation in America. There are human faces to this big picture overview as well, with Leonard introducing many stories of farmers on the losing side in the rise of vertical integration in the meat industry, and the characters behind its humble beginnings and who are reaping the huge profits of its growth. Repetitiveness underlies "The Meat Racket," but when a less-than-ideal system has been replicated in the poultry, hog, and cattle industries over the decades, there are only so many ways to say, "you/we are screwed." At least there are unique variations between each industry to make this read engagingly informative. "The Meat Racket" has not turned me off meat, but it will definitely make me think twice when simply picking up meat from an array of racks stocked full of meat product. I'll raise questions, or at least try to, and I know that is insufficient if any meaningful action is to be taken. Because we have turned a blind eye to it long enough already, surely something needs to be done now? Even if "The Meat Racket" doesn't spur any concrete undertakings in reshaping how we yield our meat, it will bring the attention the issue so direly needs.
Date published: 2014-04-01

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Editorial Reviews

“I will admit when I picked up this book, it was more with the sense that it was something I should read than something that would be a page turner. And yet it immediately drew me in. Christopher Leonard's power is the ability to capture the human lives caught within the system, particularly the farmers but also the employees who helped build the corporations… this book is a compelling reminder that we all have a stake in how this business is conducted.”