Meat Is Murder Essay, Research Paper
Meat is murder Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World Eric Schlosser (Penguin) If you read this book, I defy you to eat a mass-produced hamburger again. This column had a soft spot for the Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburger (memo to BK: send money to home address this time. We don’t want any repeat of that Scruton business, do we?), but now…well, if the ethical side-effects of mass production do not put you off, how about these words, which appear on page 197: “There is shit in the meat.” The ethical side-effects should bother you, though. Mass production has made the business of meatpacking more dangerous and worse-paid than it ever has been. Noteworthy among offenders are IBP, or Iowa Beef Packers, who supply an amazing amount of cow meat to the fast food industry. Look at their index entry. “Deceptive practices of, 166, 179-81, 206; emissions violations of, 164-65; lawsuits against, 182-83; and meat contamination, 203, 213-14;…and organized crime, 154-55…” It goes on. Those are just some of the highlights. My favourite IBP story concerns the waivers that employees in Texas are asked to sign the instant they’re injured (which is relatively often). Signing the waiver means you can never sue IBP for any reason. Not signing the waiver means you might not receive any medical care from the company. You might also be fired on the spot for good measure. Remember, you don’t have medical insurance because your wages are rubbish. You also risk losing all medical benefits from the company if you seek independent help. “The pressure [to sign] is immense,” Schlosser writes. “An IBP medical case manager will literally bring the waiver to a hospital emergency room in order to obtain an injured worker’s signature…When Duane Mullin had both hands crushed in a hammer mill…an IBP representative persuaded him to sign the waiver with a pen held in his mouth.” As for what happens to the food once it arrives at the burger chains – well, what would you do if you were a bored teenager working for a bit less than the minimum wage? Speaking of which, if you fancy a laugh, try starting a union drive at a McDonald’s in America. There are 15,000 franchises in the States. Number of workers in them represented by a union: none. Over the Canadian border, a franchise in a Montreal suburb almost managed to become unionised, but was closed down just in time. Schlosser’s sober, industrious yet mind-boggling book has become a best-seller. This is very good news. It turns out that thanks to an extraordinarily corrupt relationship between every single arm of the fast-food market and the Republican Party, the market is anything but free. The principles of uniformity turn out to be not only bad for the soul, a seedy Orwellian nightmare, but bad for people. Ray Kroc, one of the founders of McDonald’s, once memorably said of independent-minded franchisees: “We will make conformists out of them in a hurry…The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization.” Let’s hope that he gets to eat those words.