Jessie Siono Golding AP English Language 6 December 2012 Epitome of a Corrupt System: Fast Food’s Effect on the Beef Industry
One can go and travel to just about anywhere and not find a single decently populated area where they don’t come across a small, brightly colored building with a drive through attached to it. Fast food has affected everything that it comes into contact with, whether its society, culture, countries, or businesses. The novel, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser reveals how one industry in particular has had a very corrupt effect from it’s affiliation with the fast food companies that rely on it. Greeley, Colorado is the major meatpacking town of America and home to ConAgra Beef Company, leader of “the nation’s biggest meatpacking complex.” (Schlosser 149) The development of fast food has played a big role in the corruption of the meatpacking industry. This industry has put great efforts into covering up the raw and shocking manipulation of untrained workers, who have had the misfortune of being employed in a dangerous environment filled with drugs, illness, injury, sexual abuse, death and animal cruelty, all for the sake of cheap labor and maximum production. There has been such horrendous and inexcusable brutality in the conditions of these meatpacking plants. Skilled workers were of no value in this industry and would likely be a burden with their formation of unions amongst themselves against such unacceptable conditions.
All that was necessary were working bodies. Thoreau states “A wise man will only be useful as a man...” in reference to a working man.(129) Typical immigrants who ended up working in these plants had high hopes to “...go to America and marry, and be a rich man in the bargain.” (Shmoop Editorial Team) However, for many, the American dream and much more world be shattered by the menacing packhouses they worked in. The backbreaking labor and extreme dangers of the job were only the beginning of the landslide that would affect these unfortunate workers. Most immigrants were illegal residents and couldn’t speak English. Therefore, they easily complied to the working conditions without any complaints or reports. Those who were seriously injured were bribed not to report their injury and typically received no pay while recovering. Being easily replaceable and disposable, they were fired without notice if they seemed any threat to the company, losing everything. In the eyes of the industry, these people were to serve “not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.” (Thoreau 129) One man in particular has a quite extraordinary story to tell about how his steadfast dedication and loyalty to the Monfort slaughterhouse was “rewarded.” Kenny Dobbins had his lower back slammed and pierced by the metal teeth on the rim of a conveyor belt after catching a ninety pound box that fell from the upper level. He stayed home only a few days with the company doctor saying the pain was a result of a pulled muscle. Excruciating pain caused him to see another doctor who informed him that he had severely herniated disks and was in need of surgery. Financial difficulty finally cost him his marriage but he returned to the slaughterhouse after a full recovery. He was later sent to the hospital again for a month due to his lungs and skin being exposed and thus burned from disinfecting chemicals used to clean the slaughterhouse. He once again returned to work with a raw feeling chest and a sensitive immune system. Throughout his time working for this slaughterhouse, Kenny had broken a leg while stepping in
a hole in the concrete, shattered an ankle, had a massive heart attack, and even walked barefoot and bleeding to his plant after being struck by a train. It can be inferred that so long as he had full mobility he remained determined to continue working. All of a sudden, while he was off work to recover from his heart attack, Kenny began having his payments to...