Jan 25, 2018 in Book Review

Comparison between Contaminated Food in The Jungle and Today

In his well-documented book, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair reveals how food borne diseases make the society suffer pain and deaths. Possibly the book’s most important ciphers are the animal corpse and the slaughterhouse in the Packingtown. These represent in a direct simple way the quandary of the employed class. In the same way, the beasts in the Packingtown are collected into coops, killed with latitude, made to feel pain, and have no choice on their fate, are the poor immigrant thousands of workers compelled to join the capitalism machinery, which pulverizes them down killing them without their choice. Waves of beasts pass across Packingtown constantly as numerous are slaughtered daily and substituted by more; the same way generations of migrants are tumbledown by the cruel work as well as the tyranny of capitalism then eventually substituted by new cohorts of immigrants. 106 years since The Jungle was written, food borne diseases are still evident in America and other nations. There is unlimited social evils and selfishness in the universe which make some people poison others to achieve their selfish interests.

Workers penetrate the meat packaging industry and reveal the bitter truth

However, the author does not blame them for revealing the inhuman actions in the company. The workers are abused and mistreated to an extent that they cannot change the condition of the factories. The bitter truth about the contaminated food attracted President Teddy Roosevelt and led to the signing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Historically Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is most known for the introduction of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The act was enacted to respond to the truth reveled concerning meat industries selling diseased and rotten meat products to unsuspecting consumers. Upton Sinclair symbolically uses cans of unhealthy and rotten meat to symbolize corruption and insecurity of the American dream. The meat cans used to have attractive and shiny surfaces. However, they contained rotten and unhealthy food which is inapt for human consumption. The meat was a source of food borne disease which made people suffer and others died. Similarly, capitalism in America was seen as attractive and useful to immigrants. In fact, they moved migrated to America with an aim of seeking greener pastures in America.

Unfortunately, the capitalism is corrupt and rotten. Upton Sinclair reveals how immigrants struggle to survive. Initially, the immigrants do not understand that the battle is hopeless.  The immigrants work in the packaging house where they are taken considered more of salves than hired workers. The packaging house take advantage of migrants and bring disease, death, poverty, hopelessness, jail and rape in the society. There are many hopeless people at the gate waiting to be employed in the packaging house. Therefore, the employees are mistreated as they fear being fired. There is no hope of escape or improvement. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 are still in use today. The government ensures that all companies do not process unhealthy food to the innocent public in America. However, the developing countries have not styled up since there is a lot of corruption. There are several companies which package unhealthy food to make more profit without considering the health of the consumers.

Capitalism is the main theme which is correspondingly the reason for food borne disease

Upton Sinclair deliberately exposes the failure of capitalism. The author views it as violent, brutal, unjust, destructive and inhuman. The slow extermination of Jurgis’s migrant family at the hands of a prejudiced and cruel social and economic system shows the impacts of capitalism especially on the working class. Initially, the immigrants have an idealist belief that the American Dream would lead to material access. Unfortunately, the opposite is the truth. Capitalism results to inhuman actions such as selling rotten meat to innocent consumers causing death and diseases. The immigrants are destroyed, used up and tortured with capitalism as the main blame. The author stresses that the characters’ stories represent stories of many. The Jungle portrays capitalism as evil and undesirable. It caused greedy annihilation of children and worst sell diseased and rotten meat to the unsuspecting public willingly.

Sinclair does not to survey the sensibility of capitalism; in its place, he presents an extensive inventory of the horrible impacts of capitalism in the world. It is evident that capitalism has continuously brought most of the evils up to date. Every person struggles to increase his/her own capital. This is why private and government corporations can confidently manufacture unhealthy food which transmits food borne diseases to increase profits. People can do everything possible to become rich irrespective of the health consequence the acts have on the consumers of their products.

Sinclair study over Packingtown forced him to write a novel both for the government and the public over the ills in the industry.  Sinclair developed an interest in socialism and was deeply touched by meat packers’ strike of 1904. He did a research on the workers’ condition and the state of industries under the sponsorship of Appeal to Reason editorial team. Through Jurgis, Sinclair explores the way meat products were diseased, contaminated, and rotten. People who were pickling had skin diseases. Others in the sped-up chopped their figures. There were cripples who carried meat on their back. Workers with tuberculosis coughed and spat on the floor. Meat was processed next to traditional toilets; there were no soaps and detergents. Most parts of the structure lacked toilets and workers urinated in the corners. The environment in which food is being manufactured today has changed. Food processing industries ensure they prepare their food in clean areas so that they eliminate any suspicion. However, the food mixed is usually not up to the standards.

The rotten, diseased and, contaminated meat were doctored, reprocessed with chemicals, and sold to people as different brands. From the story of Jonas, he says, “meat that was taken out of pickle would often be found sour, and how they would rub it up with soda to take away the smell, and sell it to be eaten on free-lunch counters” (Sinclair 211). The company also had a way of ensuring customers never suspected their product,  he say, “also of all the miracles of chemistry which they performed, giving to any sort of meat, fresh or salted, whole or chopped, any color and any flavor and any odor they chose” (Sinclair 211). Currently, food products are mixed with chemicals and flavors are added to the food so that consumers do not suspect its health standards. The chemicals worsen the unhealthy food and increase chances of food borne diseases.

When meat inspectors were around, diseased, dead, and injured animals were processed

Meat for canning was always heaped on the floor, where people urinated and spat. During transportation, the meat was put in a cart, which has human urine and spitting, rat dung, as well as, their poison. The canning processed included dead animals and human who fell in the steam as ingredients. He writes, “For it was the custom as they found, whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage” (Mattson 112). Jurgis says that pigs suffering from tuberculosis were processed into ham and sold to the public. People were subjected to all sorts of unhygienic food from rotten, meat that has been stepped on and rats and rat poisons. Sinclair writes, “The rats were annoyances, and the packagers would put festering bread for them; rats would die, and the meat and bread would be put into hoppers” (Phelps 78). It was the routine of the workers to clear everything into food material despite their state.

Packintown was not only suffering from meat processing processes but also, the whole environment was contaminated. The rivers were polluted with chemical runoffs. Some of these rivers were used for domestic purposes. The streets were full of industrial filth. On the other hand, roads were had gaping holes and harbored industrial pests. Packintown was suffering diseases, as a result, of its shanty environment and the ills from the factor. Sinclair draws example from Antanas, he writes, “He was diagnosed with every disease which babies are prone to, in rapid succession, mumps, whooping cough and scarlet fever in the initial year. As well, he was now suffering from measles” (Phelps 98). Poverty made people suffer malnutrition. Poor pay and living environment resulted into many weather related diseases. Sinclair depicts dying society in overcrowded, polluted and impoverished background. After Roosevelt read the “Jungle.” He assigned a commission to justify the claims. His first action was coercing meat industry to reform through threats. He forced the passage of the Beveridge Amendment. The amendment required all meat industry to ensure constant agricultural inspection.  Stamps were introduced for every meat product that was sent to the market. The act was opposed in the house of representative (Mattson 212).

In response, the president publicized the Neil-Reynolds report

The report created a tensed environment to meat packing industries. There was a lot of reform in the meat packing industry to recapture both interstate and foreign markets. The government was also involved in food inspection at every sector. Within a short duration, there was a lot of positive change in the meat packing industry (Hamowy 88). Sinclair’ work attracted attention from angered public, government and different public health organization. The jungle brought a dramatic public awareness. Consequently, Pure Food and Drug Act (1) and Meat Inspection Act were passed. The acts have expanded covering many areas in the food industry.  Public Health started active campaign that altered household hygiene and environmental sanitation. Nutritional scientist also emerged actively. They talked about hygiene and balanced diet within and without Chicago (Mattson 216).

According to the Sinclair’s view, socialism is the main cure for entire problems that are created by capitalism as a means of production and earning daily bread. When Jurgis realizes socialist politics exhibited in the Chapter twenty eight, it becomes concise that, the novel’s approach on capitalism is destined to convince the reader of the attractiveness of the socialist as an alternative means of life. When socialism is established, it is revealed to be good since capitalism is depicted as evil; while capitalism abolishes the various benefits of the marginalized, socialism functions for the interest of all. It is even hypothesized that, a socialist nation could achieve Christian morality. As well, there is no shade inside the book’s polemic: The Jungle’s objective is to convince the reader to assume socialism. Every feature of the novel’s scene, conflict and characterization is designed to dishonor the capitalist systems of administration, and illustrate the capability of a socialism political system to reinstate humanity to the exploited, abused and downtrodden working class. Currently, there are other solutions to the social evils in the society. The court system is there to punish those who are proven guilty of selling unhealthy food to the unsuspecting public. Unfortunately, there is a lot of corruption which makes the court system incredible. The companies bribe magistrates and injustice continues to prevail as the public suffers and dies of food borne diseases. 

The book’s title embodies the competitive disposition of capitalism; the realm of Packingtown can be compared to a Darwinian wilderness, wherein the strong game on the frail thus all living creatures are engrossed in an amoral brutal struggle to survive. By associating the tale of a crowd of hardworking, honest migrants who are devastated by evil and corruption, Sinclair stabs to refute the notion of Communal Darwinism, inferring that the people who prosper in the capitalist structure are the most corrupt and worst of all but not the preeminent of humankind.

In conclusion, in Sinclair's 1906 book The Jungle, garbage, animals, and inferior were extensively processed into products of meat. Though it was not Sinclair's chief intention to reveal the misuse of the foods industry in The Jungle, the uproar over the manufacture and selling of meat turned out to be the book’s defining bequest. In the book, Sinclair criticizes the apparatuses of capitalism concerning the wiles that the meat processors use to peddle contaminated and spoiled meat. Trying to cuddle each dime, which they can from the process of packing meat, the packers advance unsanitary conditions and short cuts so as to evade wasting money. Just like it was in 1906, the society today is still consuming unhealthy food from selfish individuals who work to increase profits at the expense of the consumers’ health. 


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