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Comparison Two Books: The Jungle and Food Inc.

Updated December 28, 2021
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Comparison Two Books: The Jungle and Food Inc. essay

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In 1904 Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” describing in graphic detail the unsanitary process of meat production, and today we have a modern case of the same issues Upton Sinclair brought up, described in the documentary “Food Inc.” America as a whole has grown greatly since 1904 in every way, the car industry, our foreign trade, our production of necessities, but we fall short in one major category our production of food and the quality in which it is produced. Many similarities have shown up in today’s food production industry that occurred in the food production industry of the 1900s. The food industry has also grown for the better as the way of production has become increasingly faster and more efficient. The “Jungle” and “Food Inc.” may have been made a century apart, while few changes have been made to the production of the food industry, many similarities can still be found between the two and how the production of food has not changed and even may have worsened throughout the decades.

A major similarity between “The Jungle” and “Food Inc.” is in the way the food industry is broken up into parts, as an assembly line. One person consistently doing the same job in the same factory on the same product day after day. In the 1900s a worker would be assigned the basic job of cutting a part of meat off or pressing a button to do one thing. “There were the “hoisters” as they were called, whose task it was to press the lever which lifted the dead cattle off the floor.” (Upton Sinclair, 1904). These men were hired to simply operate a lever. In the documentary video footage was shown of a meat factory where there was an assembly line of workers each cutting a different part of the meat off. Along with others stationed at different parts doing one thing in the production line of the meat. This idea of using workers as machines and objects to get a job done fast and with low costs has been around since the 1900s and still is today.

A huge difference in today’s production of food compared to the 1900s is the safety of the workers. During the 1900s immigrant workers needed jobs so bad the conditions did not matter, in part the conditions the workers of the food industry during the 1900s was horrific. Some examples described in “The Jungle” range from cutting and acid burned hands, ending in loss of fingers to end of work due to server injury and deaths by many workers. “Let a man so much as scrape his finger pushing a truck in the pickle-room, and he might have a sore that would put him out of the world… There were woolpluckers, whose hands went to pieces even sooner than the hands of the pickle-me, for the pelts of sheep had to be painted with acid to loosen the wool, and then the pluckers had to pull out the wool with their bare hands, till the acid had eaten their fingers off.” (Upton Sinclair, 1904).

In today’s food industry we do not see these severe injury’s due to regulation and technology advances and safety precautions and equipment which eliminate these hazards for workers. Today’s factories make workers wear protective hand, eye and body equipment, along with many of the harsh jobs done by workers back in the 1900s is now done by machines. This cut down a lot of the injuries at food production factories. Another huge cause for the safety of workers to improve so much in a century has to do with machines replacing these very dangerous jobs worker once had to do.

Though food production is still a messy job as shown in the film we have adapted to make it a more appealing job, with many still unsanitary activates for the workers, such as when they must wash and strip a pig that has been living in its own feces until it was fat enough to kill, these workers do wear protection making it safer than the 1900s but more could be done to make the process much safer. The food industry may have become safer for its factory workers but not for the consumers.

In the 1900s factories produced every single piece of meat they had ,no matter the quality or health risks eating the bad meat would cause. Using chemicals to make the meat look healthy and take the rotting smell away. Rubbing meaty with soda became a common way to get rid of the smell from the meats. Finding any way to use all the mat they had, chopping up spoiled meat and throwing it into sausage, turned moldy and white meat too ready to be bought meat with a little help from chemicals. “Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white, it would be dosed with borax and glycerin and dumped into the hoppers and make over again for home consumption.” (Upton Sinclair, 1904). These chemicals in no way should be used to clean meat nor should anyone consume meat that has been tampered with these types of chemicals not knowing the health risks it produces. It became the job of the workers to chemically alter the meat instead of their true job of cutting and packaging meat for sale.

Factories only look for the cheapest, most efficient way to produce products and make money. This was the ways they used in the 1900s, today factories strive to achieve the same goal of quick, cheap, money. But due to health codes implemented in the 1960s to avoid these horrific types of food production today’s factories and food industry twisted their way around these new laws. The food industry today uses the mass growth and production of meat, they do this by increasing the number of animals grown to have greater meat supply. This caused a great mistreatment of animals. Pigs living in their own feces, chickens living in complete darkness by the tens of thousands along with animals living on top of one another.

Cows are supposed to eat a grass diet yet are only fed corn, to fatten them up and get them ready to be slaughtered. “Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn, they designed by evolution to eat grass and the only reason we feed the corn is because corn is really cheap, and corn makes them fat quickly.” (Food Inc. Farmer) This larger consumption of corn by cows’ results in E. coli that are acid resistant, causing them to stay in the meat and be consumed. It is caused by cow’s corn diet and the lifestyle cows. It is spread rapidly through cows in the same farm due to them living in their own manure, bringing it into factories and spreading even further.

“There’s antibiotics that are put into the fed and of course passes through the chicken, the bacteria builds up a resistance so antibiotics aren’t working anymore.” (Food Inc. Farmer) This causes humans to be allergic to antibiotics and not able to take them for illnesses. Due to companies creating fed to grow chickens at a faster rate than ever, producing a 5-pound chicken in49 days compared to before when it took an average of 3 months.

With advances in technology making the food industry efficient supposedly creating ‘safer’ production of food and food in general, the FDA has lessened its control and supervision of the production of food, turning a blind eye to what is actually happening. “In 1972, the FDA conducted approximately 50,000 food inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted 9,164.” (Food INC.) Instead of technology decreasing the contamination of food, it is making the contamination larger and much more wide spread. With only 13 meat processing plants in the U.S. producing the majority of meat consumed, a hamburger in today’s market contains meat from around 1,000 cows. This increases the contamination of beef greatly and increases the chance of eating meat from a contaminated cow.

The FDA does not seem concerned with the increasing amount of contaminated meat and contaminated meat related illnesses just like the government did not seem concerned with the spoiled meat being produced with chemicals and causing illnesses during the 1900s. As a country concerning food producing and the regulation of how it is made, we have taken a huge step back in our food’s safety standers since the 1960s. It’s as though we are back in the 1900s where large food companies controlled the quality of food produced, prices, workers and conditions under which production of food happens. Today the big chicken and beef companies control what their workers say and do. Many workers are scared to speak out against their owners in fear losing work and their livings. As a nation our goals and values have evolved greatly since the 1900s, yet our food production and the quality and safety of our food has not.

As a society, we have allowed for the price of fast and unhealthy food to be cheaper than healthy and safer foods. In many places of America, people struggle to eat daily and are faced with the choice to go pick up full means at a local fast food change or one or two vegetables at the market. In almost every case these people are going to choose the option that is cheaper and gives them more food. With the cheaper option comes more health risks. This was true in the 1900s as well, meat that was spoiled and treated to be sold was cheaper than no contaminated meat and in poor families, they could not afford the better meat, so they would often eat contaminated and spoiled meat products. As a country with a high poverty, we are giving these people who cannot afford healthy foods, healthy problems which they, in turn, cannot afford to treat. We need to change the food industries policy on such high prices for health foods. The food industry today is using the same techniques to grain a large profit off of bad meat and poor conditions for the animals and workers, and in turn, putting the lives of their consumers at risk.

Comparison Two Books: The Jungle and Food Inc. essay

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Comparison Two Books: The Jungle and Food Inc.. (2021, Dec 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/comparison-two-books-the-jungle-and-food-inc/

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