369: Poultry Slam 2008

369: Poultry Slam 2008

Nov 28, 2008
A man in Pakistan wants to break his friend out of prison. He buys him an amulet that supposedly has the power to protect anyone from harm. But just to be on the safe side, he decides to test the amulet by trying it out first. On a chicken.
Stories about the powerful combination of chickens, faith and God in our not-quite-annual, all new for 2008, Poultry Slam. Since our first year on the air, this has been a This American Life tradition, a show about poultry for this time of year when poultry consumption is at its highest.

Special note to chicken enthusiasts: The name of this episode—The Poultry Slam—has nothing to do with slamming poultry. We are not anti-poultry. Our editorial stance is proudly pro-poultry. The show's name is a pun on Chicago's Poetry Slam.

You can see two sample pages of Nicholas Wild's graphic novel here.
  • Working in a poultry processing plant is one of the most unpleasant jobs you can get in this country. It's low-paid, dangerous and difficult. Barely any poultry plants are represented by a union, especially in the South, where most of the plants are located. So worker rights advocates rely in large part on the church to help them organize workers. And in the past few years, they've been trying something new: They've been using the church to intervene with company management in a very, very personal way. This American Life producer Sarah Koenig tells the story of how one organizer tried this method with a manager at a company called Case Farms, and a plant they have in Morganton, North Carolina. You can learn more in the film Mississippi Chicken, a documentary about poultry factory workers in Canton, Mississippi. (15 minutes)ActivismAnimalsLabor

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Graphic by cartoonist Nicolas Wild, who was inspired by a story featured in this episode. (See his two page cartoon here). Wild draws a cartoon blog about his travels around Afghanistan for the newspaper, Le Monde.

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