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Fast Food Nation
Transcript of Fast Food Nation
Ch. 6 On the Range
On the Range
Eric Schlosser went to Colorado Springs and met a rancher, named Hank.
Hank was trying to bridge the gap between ranchers and environmentalists, to establish some common ground between longtime enemies.
Hank wanted to know the difference from his type of ranching and "raping the land"
The rapid growth of Colorado Springs had occured without much official planning, zoning, or spending on drainage projects.
Hank and other ranchers lost part of their land everyday
Ranchers and Cowboys have long been the central icons of the Americas West, and have the symbols of freedom and self-reliance.
Today revisionists have condemned as racists, economic parasites, and despoilers of the land.
Ranchers are rapidly disappearing selling their land. Today's American's independent cattlemen are becoming an endangered species.
Ranchers are currently facing a host of economic problems such as rising land prices, beef prices, inheritance taxes, health scares about beef and more.
Many ranchers argue that large corporations use unfair tactics to drive down the price of cattle.
Anger towards the large meatpackers is growing and may cause a new range war that will determine the social and economic structure of the rural west.
A New Trust
The Breasts of Mr. Mcdonald
Many ranchers fear the the line of beef industry is deliberately being restructured along the lines of the poultry industry.
Fear ending up like chicken growers, powerless and trapped in dept by contracts written by large processors.
The processors of chicken have shifted almost all their production to rural south, where the weather is mild, workforce is poor, unions are weak, and farmers are desperate of staying on their land.
The Chicken McNugget helped revolutionize the poultry industry and increased the power of the large processors.
The McNugget helped not only change the American diet but also its system fro raising and processing poultry .
The chicken grower provides the land, the poultry houses, and the fuel. Many leave the business after just three years, either selling out or losing everything.
Many of the processors do not like the idea of chicken growers joining forces to protect their interests.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Print.
- "Nature isn't abstraction for me," he said "My family lives with it every day."
(Schlosser, pg. 134, ch. 6)
"It's just another way of controlling prices through captive supply," Pitts explained "The packers now own some of these big feeders lock, stock, and barrel, and tell them exactly what to do."
(Schlosser, pg. 138, Ch. 6)
The Threat of Wealthy Neighbors
Many farmers face threats to their livelihood that are unrelated to fluctuations in cattle prices.
Colorado over the 20 years has lost 1.5 million acres of ranchland due to development. Along with the lost of ranchland Colorado is losing its ranching cultures.
Colorado's open land will change hands over the next two decades. Many of it's land is vanishing at the rate of 90,000 acres a year.
Conservation easements are usually of greatest benefit to wealthy ranchers who earn large incomes from other sources.
colorado ranchers who now face the greatest economic difficulty are the ones who run a few hundred head of cattle and don't stand to gain anything from big tax write-off.
"The impact of McNuggets was so huge that it changed the industry."
(Schlosser, pg. 140, Ch. 6)
The four large meatpacking claim that an oversupply of bee, not any corporate behavior, is responsible for the low that American ranchers are paid for their cattle.
U.S Department of Agriculture concluded that about the annual beef consumption in the United States in 1976 was about ninety-four pounds of beef every year, although the population's nation has grown since then.
The meat packing companies claim that captive supplies and formula pricing systems are meant for achieving greater efficiency, not control the cattle. However, many independent ranchers think the opposite.
"Our competitors are our friends, and our customers are our enemies"
(Schlosser, pg. 143, Ch. 6)
A Broken Link
Hank died in 1998, a week before Christmas. He was forty-four.
He was full of fire and ready to go and his death seemed to contradict everything else about his life.
It would have been wrong to say that the consolidation and homogenizing of the fast food chains, and other things had caused Hank's death.
He was under a lot of pressure trying to protect his land and not sacrifice his families financial security.
The suicide rate among ranchers and farmers is about three times higher then the national average.