Fowl Treatment | Science & Technology Reviews, August 1, 2016

Two titles detailing how the chicken has become one of the staples of the American diet, succeeding beef as the protein of choice for millions across the nation, and the pros and cons of the animal production industry.
Rude, Emelyn. Tastes Like Chicken: A History of America’s Favorite Bird. Pegasus. Aug. 2016. 272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781681771632. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681771984. COOKING tastes like chickenAmericans are the most prolific eaters of chicken, consuming an average of 90 pounds per person in 2015. But our taste for chicken is a relatively new phenomenon. Journalist Rude traces the factors that contributed to this rise in popularity, beginning with chickens’ domestication in Asia over 10,000 years ago up to today’s modern, sprawling industry. Until the early 1900s, beef was king of the American plate. When slaves made fried chicken and sold it to passing soldiers during the Civil War, the trend increased, but its high price kept it out of reach for most. The 1920s saw the awakening of calorie consciousness and dieting, which led to a growth in fowl as a lower calorie option. After the first commercial chicken hatchery and the emergence of the broiler industry, prices dropped drastically, making it more affordable. As chicken became the favored meat, practices became standardized, creating social, environmental and ethical issues that continue to trouble the marketplace. VERDICT Readers of food histories such as Mark ­Kurlansky’s Cod will appreciate this engaging, well-researched, and thorough history of America’s changing food preferences.—Melissa Stoeger, Deerfield P.L., IL

Silbergeld, Ellen K. Chickenizing Farms and Food: How Industrial Meat Production Endangers Workers, Animals, and Consumers. Johns Hopkins. Oct. 2016. 352p. notes. index. ISBN 9781421420301. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421420318. AGRI

chickenizing farms and foodSilbergeld (environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy & management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Sch. of Public Health) exposes the flaws and foibles of the animal production industry in this look at the now-familiar topic of industrial agriculture. This work differs from others on the same subject by offering a way forward after a discussion of how we came to be in this current predicament. Each chapter provides context for different aspects of industrialized agriculture: the three main tenets of industrial agriculture, confinement, concentration, and vertical integration; the beginnings of industrialized agriculture and how it has spread globally; the initial rationale for feeding growth-promoting antimicrobials and the fallout from doing so; the lack of enforcement and oversight from governmental agencies that regulate the food industry; and the low-paid workers who suffer from injuries and multiple health concerns owing to the intensive agricultural practices. Silbergeld steers clear of the nutritional aspects, focusing on the production side, i.e., from farm to fork. This engaging treatise lays out a compelling case for reexamining the way we produce the food we eat. VERDICT Required reading for those who are interested in learning more about where our food comes from.—Diana Hartle, Univ. of Georgia Science Lib., Athens

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