♫ You can eat some now, you can eat some later
You can warm ’em back up with your French fried potaters
Yeah I’m snackin’ all night, it’s all right, all right
Got an eight piece box ♫
— Grab dinner at the gas station. Don’t forget dessert.
Welcome to The Jungle. WPT’s got puns and rage.
This weekend’s beef involves Big Meat, an industry that never fails to cock things up when it comes to pricing, worker safety, and consumer safety.
The newest new year dawned at the White House with President Joe “You Gonna Eat Those Cracklins” Biden promising greater competition in the wholesale meat market. Consolidation across the three largest sectors of the consumable flesh industry over the past decade all but slaughtered midsize producers of cattle, hogs and poultry. Companies such as JBS, Smithfield Foods, and Tyson Food1 so in control of beef, pork and chicken production that price-fixing starting from the hoof, belly and hatchling became inevitable.
Monopolies trigger inflation at the grocery store, an inevitability worsened by frequent natural disasters,2 inexorable climate change, regular outbreaks of bird flu,3 and unpredictable price pressures from supply chain inputs such as gasoline and foam trays. Ways to keep prices low include underpaying ranchers and herders, speeding up abattoir operations and meatpacking lines, and reducing quality. The major companies pursue all those tactics and more while simultaneously ratcheting up their profits.
But Uvular did not come to you this Saturday and/or Sunday to rail at the register tape. Rather, he wants lawmakers and regulators to focus on the humane costs of a cutlet. To realize steaks have human stakes. To put people at the center of the pork industry.4
Pretty much everyone who works in a meat processing plant suffers job-related injuries. Once COVID-19 hit, pretty much every meat processing plant worker contracted the disease. Management and corporates responses to both the systemic and epidemic hazards proved predictable nonexistence-to-malicious. Which finally led your overfed Weekend Politics Thread host to remove most meats from his diet starting at the start of 2021.
He kept sausage on the meta menu, especially peperoni. And too much fried chicken has found its way down his gullet over the past 12 months. But he has at least tried to minimize his contribution to the unsavory industry that pushes out savory foods, and he looks forward to trying KFC’s Beyond Chicken offerings. All things considered, though, maybe he should cut out the middlemen altogether and take up hunting.
What do you have in your crosshairs? Tell us in the comments.