Fast Food Nation

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The Monfort Family Character Analysis

Owners and operates of the meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colorado, for generations before eventually selling it to a massive agribusiness. The Monfort family, as Schlosser describes, were good but “paternalistic” bosses for their workers—paying sufficiently and allowing unions in the plant. The Monfort Family’s practices stand in contrast to later, larger companies, like IBF, whose meatpacking plants allow no unions and pay miniscule wages to workers for their dangerous labor.

The Monfort Family Quotes in Fast Food Nation

The Fast Food Nation quotes below are all either spoken by The Monfort Family or refer to The Monfort Family. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Diet, Nutrition, and Food Safety Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Mariner edition of Fast Food Nation published in 2012.
Chapter 7: Cogs in the Great Machine Quotes

Greeley became a company town, dominated by the Monfort family and ruled with a compassionate paternalism. Ken Monfort was a familiar presence at the slaughterhouse. Workers felt comfortable approaching him with suggestions and complaints.

Related Characters: Eric Schlosser (speaker), The Monfort Family
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

Schlosser again walks a fine line between valorizing an old economic system, which he understand to have problems of its own, and attempting to depict honestly the real difficulties and deficiencies of the system of agricultural production that replaced it throughout the United States during the era of deregulation, which Schlosser dates to the 1970s and '80s. The Monforts were by no means a perfect family, and they did not run their business as a charity; they were businessmen, and their workers were not paid any more than they had to be. But those workers were at least supported in their work, knew their bosses, and the Monforts believed in helping those who worked at the plant at least to some extent.

The system replacing this, in which a large and depersonalized agricultural conglomerate slashed wages and benefits, produced no such goodwill between workers and their bosses. This might have resulted in slightly higher corporate profits, but it did not help to support those families whose incomes derived from the meatpacking industry. And this, by degrees, harmed the towns in which these meatpacking plants were located. 


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The Monfort Family Character Timeline in Fast Food Nation

The timeline below shows where the character The Monfort Family appears in Fast Food Nation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: Cogs in the Great Machine
Diet, Nutrition, and Food Safety Theme Icon
Greed, Corporations, and “The Bottom Line” Theme Icon
Bureaucracy and Complex Systems Theme Icon
Work and “The Good Life” Theme Icon
...Greeley, the meatpacking plant was originally worked as a small business and controlled by the Monfort family with “compassionate paternalism.” The Monforts negotiated with meatpackers who were in a union, and... (full context)
Diet, Nutrition, and Food Safety Theme Icon
Greed, Corporations, and “The Bottom Line” Theme Icon
Independence vs. the Social Contract Theme Icon
Bureaucracy and Complex Systems Theme Icon
Work and “The Good Life” Theme Icon
Schlosser then tracks the changes in meatpacking during the 1970s and 1980s—the Monfort plant in Greeley was purchased by ConAgra, one of the largest agribusinesses in the US.... (full context)