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  • Publicado : 1 de septiembre de 2010
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On Friday, most of the country’s major newspapers, including The Times, featured reports from a small town called Clarion, Iowa. Just outside Clarion are the egg operations, owned by the DeCosterfamily, at the heart of the salmonella outbreak. The factory — no point calling it a farm — called Wright County Egg, is the source of 380 million of the more than 500 million recalled eggs.
I grew upin Clarion. My family lived there from 1954 to 1963 during what now looks like a golden era for American farming. When I was back a couple of years ago, I noted the most evident change, a significantpopulation of Mexican workers. I hoped that they were able to love Clarion as much as I did. It’s unlikely, because I also saw where they worked.
When I was young, I thought I grasped the immensityof the Iowa landscape. The immensity of the soybean and corn fields has only grown because so many smaller farms have vanished as a result of government farm policy, which rewards economicconcentration. As I turned off Highway 3 east of town, I saw that there was a newer immensity, the egg factories — an endless row of faceless buildings, as bland as a compound of colossal storage units but withthe air of a prison.
It wasn’t simply that the operation is out of scale with the Iowa landscape. It is out of scale with any landscape, except perhaps the industrial districts of Los AngelesCounty. What shocked me most was the thought that this is where the logic of industrial farming gets us. Instead of people on the land, committed to the welfare of the agricultural enterprise and theresources that make it possible, there was this horror — a place where millions of chickens are crowded in tiny cages and hundreds of laborers work in dire conditions.
It takes only a little investigationto learn how bad things have been inside those buildings. The list of offenses for which the DeCosters and their farms have been fined in Iowa and Maine only begins with hiring children and illegal...
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