Joshua Specht is a historian, writer, visiting assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame, and author of the book, Red Meat Republic.
Why do Americans eat so much beef? In Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America (Princeton University Press, 2019), the historian Joshua Specht provides a history that shows how our diets and consumer choices remain rooted in nineteenth century enterprises. A century and half ago, he writes, the colonialism and appropriation of indigenous lands enabled the expansion of western ranch outfits. These corporate ranchers controlled loose commodity chains, until powerful corporate meat packers in Chicago seized the economic order through the tools of modern capitalism (scientific management, standardization, labor suppression). These capitalists expanded the supply chains to far-flung consumers in New York and around the globe. But as meat became a staple of the American diet, and measure of progress, consumers cared more about the price and taste than the violence to people, animals, and environment behind the scenes. “America made modern beef” Specht writes, “at the same time that beef made America modern.”Ryan Driskell Tate is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at Rutgers University. He is completing a book on fossil-fuels and energy development in the American West. He teaches courses on modern US history, environmental history, and histories of labor and capitalism. @rydriskelltate Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On today's show, Joshua Specht (@joshspecht), author of Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America. The story of beef production in America begins at the cattle ranch, which was a tool of conquest in the West. In some places, cattle ranching resembled a paramilitary operation with settlers and natives fighting for land rights. Settlers looked to graze with their cattle while natives hunted what remained of buffalo populations. The federal government's decision to inter natives to reservations gave ranchers free rein and allowed them to build larger ranches with more heads of cattle. After ranching established itself, the meatpackers from Chicago and capitalists invested in the western farms, flooding the marketplace with meat and creating an oligopoly, or as the owners of the time called it, "holding both ends of the string." Sam and Joshua explore the meatpacking assembly lines in Chicago which inspired Henry Ford's auto manufacturing lines and was the focus of Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle.' While Sinclair wanted to spark a socialist revolution amongst American workers, American consumers and politicians instead regulated the industry based on sanitation, with Roosevelt's Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Given the broad implications of beef's economic history, what does it mean to us now? Specht questions the short term impacts of meat and climate change; and how consumer prices are often used to deflect criticism of the industry, like labor rights and environmental concerns. And in the Fun Half: Larry Kudlow is enjoying the August recess, Jimmy Dore has something against Justice Democrats, Killer Mike explains why a free college option is essential for America, Jesse Watters thinks he was a slave when he did chores, Pete Buttigieg fearmongers about the national debt, Fox News contributor says the prison system is maybe the least racist American institution, Ainsley Earhardt wishes the homeless would just disappear, plus your calls and IMs! Check out today's sponsors: Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GETQUIP.com/majority right now, you can get your first refill pack for FREE.   Embark Dog DNA Test Kit looks at over 250 breeds and 170 genetic health conditions to help you best care for your pup. Embark Dog DNA Test Kit looks at over 250 breeds and 170 genetic health conditions to help you best care for your pup.  Go to Embarkvet.com and use promo code MAJORITY to save 15% off your Dog DNA Test Kit.  Become a member of the majority report today at JoinTheMajorityReport.com Get 10% off fair trade coffee with coupon code “majority” at justcoffee.coop Get your tickets to the Michael Brooks Chicago Live Show, with special guest Chuck Mertz of This is Hell on August 24th here! Check out The Michael Brooks Show at patreon.com/tmbs, and the TMBS YouTube channel for all short TMBS clips. And check out Year Of Lead, a new book on Brazil with an introduction by Michael Brooks! Check out Matt’s podcast, Literary Hangover, at patreon.com/LiteraryHangover or on iTunes Check out Jamie’s podcast, The Antifada, at patreon.com/TheAntifada, on iTunes, or via your favorite podcast app. Follow the Majority Report crew on Twitter: @majorityfm @SamSeder @_michaelbrooks @MattLech @jamie_elizabeth @BF1nn
Beginning in the late 19th Century, the cattle industry connected America with animals raised in the south and west being sent north to Chicago and eventually east to big cities for consumption. Notre Dame visiting professor Joshua Specht joins host Krys Boyd to recount the complex history – filled with exploitation and innovation –  of the beef we consume, which he writes about in “Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America” (Princeton University Press).
Historian Joshua Specht explains how the beef industry shaped American history. Joshua is author of the book "Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America" from Princeton University Press.
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Creator Details

Location
South Bend, Indiana, United States of America
Episode Count
4
Podcast Count
4
Total Airtime
3 hours, 26 minutes