Much has changed in the American meatpacking industry since the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle 109 years ago. The Economist recently joined animal-welfare and autism-awareness advocate Temple Grandin for a tour of a Colorado meat-processing facility. The Fort Morgan facility is a massive operation; the plant employs 2,100 people and slaughters 4,600 cows every day. And the operation has implemented many of Grandin’s suggested changes.
It might be said that Grandin is the contemporary equivalent of Sinclair’s seminal novel. The Jungle was responsible for bringing into existence a series of sanitary and consumer-protection laws. And while the Chicago of Sinclair’s book is no longer “America’s slaughterhouse,” Grandin has done much to bring similarly humane changes to abattoirs nationwide. Grandin designed curved chutes that are used in 35% of US stockyards, and fully half the cattle in this country are slaughtered in equipment for restraining cattle designed by her.