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Armour & Co

The price of plenty: how beef changed America

By: 
Joshua Specht

Exploitation and predatory pricing drove the transformation of the US beef industry – and created the model for modern agribusiness. Meatpacking lines, pioneered in the 1860s in Cincinnati’s pork packinghouses, were the first modern production lines.

The meatpacking mogul Jonathan Ogden Armour could not abide socialist agitators. It was 1906, and Upton Sinclair had just published The Jungle, an explosive novel revealing the grim underside of the American meatpacking industry. Sinclair’s book told the tale of an immigrant family’s toil in Chicago’s slaughterhouses, tracing the family’s physical, financial and emotional collapse. The Jungle was not Armour’s only concern.

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