Over the past century, new farming methods, feed additives, and
social and economic structures have radically transformed
agriculture around the globe, often at the expense of human health.
In Chickenizing Farms and Food, Ellen K. Silbergeld reveals the
unsafe world of chickenization-big agriculture's top-down,
contract-based factory farming system-and its negative consequences
for workers, consumers, and the environment. Drawing on her deep
knowledge of and experience in environmental engineering and
toxicology, Silbergeld examines the complex history of the modern
industrial food animal production industry and describes the
widespread effects of Arthur Perdue's remarkable agricultural
innovations, which were so important that the US Department of
Agriculture uses the term chickenization to cover the
transformation of all farm animal production. Silbergeld tells the
real story of how antibiotics were first introduced into animal
feeds in the 1940s, which has led to the emergence of
multi-drug-resistant pathogens, such as MRSA. Along the way, she
talks with poultry growers, farmers, and slaughterhouse workers on
the front lines of exposure, moving from the Chesapeake Bay
peninsula that gave birth to the modern livestock and poultry
industry to North Carolina, Brazil, and China. Arguing that the
agricultural industry is in desperate need of reform, the book
searches through the fog of illusion that obscures most of what has
happened to agriculture in the twentieth century and untangles the
history of how laws, regulations, and policies have stripped
government agencies of the power to protect workers and consumers
alike from occupational and food-borne hazards. Chickenizing Farms
and Food also explores the limits of some popular alternatives to
industrial farming, including organic production, nonmeat diets,
locavorism, and small-scale agriculture. Silbergeld's provocative
but pragmatic call to action is tempered by real challenges: how
can we ensure a safe and accessible food system that can feed
everyone, including consumers in developing countries with new
tastes for western diets, without hurting workers, sickening
consumers, and undermining some of our most powerful medicines?
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