In February 1906, journalist Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle hit the shelves. The fictionalized account of the meatpacking industry was massively successful, and citizens of the United States demanded higher quality food. Soon, the Food and Drug Administration was founded, and the USDA began seriously inspecting food products. The people were protected once again, and Sinclair became a celebrity muckraker.
It’s perfectly natural to be concerned about one’s food. After all, health should be a rather large concern for people. It might actually be scary not to care. So when people demanded a better, healthier product, they got it. The government even swore to protect them from the evils of the industry.
Over 100 years later, we face a similar problem. People don’t know how their food is produced, and the companies making it don’t want us to know. Worse yet, the industry has infiltrated the regulating industries and relaxing their polices as they go.
What exactly are we supposed to do about this? In the last ten years, there have been several attempts to expose the corruption in the industry, such as Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. Still, a large amount of apathy remains. Is it too late to liberate us from this corruption? Can today’s muckrakers possibly produce the same amount of success as Sinclair had?