I live in one and it reeks of fear and distress.
Unfortunately this is probably true. America was still a growing nation and needed to be fed both literally and commercially. What was available was often expensive and in short supply, and less responsible handlers of animal products often cut corners to reduce cost If you are familiar at all with buthcering and meat handling practices near the turn of the century, things were pretty grim. Not only were diseased and infected cows allowed to be processed and consumed, but that was often the reason they were chosen first. A dairy cow that stopped producing for any reason would have been sold to the highest bidder, or slaughtered on sight.
Upton Sinclair wrote a book called The Jungle written in 1906 about the packing yards in Chicago. While it is a work of fiction, it could be considered historical fiction. He shed light on many deplorable practices that were actually occuring and the book was instrumental in creating some of the regulation efforts we see today.
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