The Astoundingly Complex Logistics Of How Food Gets Made


If car commercials, beer commercials and presidential stump speeches were the only entertainment you consumed, you’d probably be pretty bored. You’d also think that American farmers are the life-blood of the economy and account for roughly 85% of the population. But in fact, less than 2% of Americans work in the business of putting food on your table– we’re talking farmers, ranchers, fishermen, etc.– and over 80% of us live in metropolitan areas of some sort. That’s a crazy ratio, especially when it comes to something as important as where the next meal is coming from.

How did we get here? How has the food industry in America gone from family farms and self reliance to drive throughs and endlessly stocked supermarkets in just a couple hundred years? This week, Alex Schmidt and Carmen Angelica speak to Maureen Ogle, a historian who wrote a whole book on the nuts and bolts of the American food industry and specifically, our obsession with meat.

Neither her book nor this podcast are condemnations of eating meat or exposes into the horrors of meat production, we’re just taking a look at the amazing confluence of business, agriculture, science and logistics that keeps the grocery shelves stocked and the McRib in rotation.

Footnotes:

Book: Maureen Ogle: In Meat We Trust

Book: Michael Pollan: Omnivore’s Dilemma

Article: The Awl: A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage

Article: New York Times: ABC Settles With Meat Producer in Pink Slime Defamation Case

Book: Frances Moore Lappe: Diet for a Small Planet

Article: Cracked: 6 Gross Foods from a 50s Cookbook (That We Taste Tested)

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