Zephyr Teachout. (Digital Media / CC-BY-2.0)

Whether he wins or loses the Democratic nomination, the fate of Bernie Sanders’ progressive revolution rests in the hands of congressional candidates like New York’s Zephyr Teachout, who also want to restore to people and localities power that has been consolidated by corporations.

In a profile of Teachout at Mother Jones magazine, Tim Murphy writes:

On a recent Saturday afternoon, as we drove to lunch at a microbrewery in Troy, New York, Teachout explained why, if you want to know what ails America, you need to understand where chickens come from. She did not mean this in a philosophical way. What you need to understand is an idea she calls “chickenization,” a system pioneered by agricultural giants such as Tyson, in which local contract farmers agree to standardize their practices on behalf of big poultry companies that keep most of the profits.

Teachout has a pop academic’s habit of footnoting even her extemporaneous remarks, and in just a few minutes, she cited two books, a TEDx talk she gave at Boston University, a class she’s teaching at Fordham, some YouTube videos, and a “nice segment” about this topic on John Oliver’s HBO show. Chickenization is not just about chickens. “It’s also what is happening in our economy at large,” she said; when corporate heavyweights build regional monopolies—whether it’s to provide pesticides, broadband, or chocolate milk—everyone else pays the price.

She considers consolidation a major problem in the 19th district, a largely rural swath of upstate New York that covers all or parts of 11 counties, from the Catskills to the Hudson. Many of the dairy farms in the district contract with just one company, Dean Foods. Teachout refers to this as a “crisis of concentration of power,” and one of her campaign promises is to toughen anti-trust laws in a way that gives “the farmer of the middle” more autonomy in how they run their operations. Her political message oscillates between that of a wonkier Bernie Sanders and a crunchier Elizabeth Warren.

Continue reading here, and watch Oliver’s segment on “chickenization” below.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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