When you think of Southern food, especially if you’re not from the South, fried chicken might be the first dish that comes to mind. Chicken is a Southern staple, and the biggest chicken companies in the world are all based in the South. The second-largest poultry state is Arkansas, and the northwest region—home to the Walmart empire—is also home to Tyson, Cargill, and George’s, among others.
Twenty years ago, it was more than 80% white, but today—because of big chicken—there’s a ballooning population of Latino, Marshall Island, and Asian immigrants. The school system is nearly half Latino, and streets once marked by poultry plants and feed stores are lined with taquerias and signs en español.
Today’s Gravy podcast, produced by Von Diaz, tells the story of Springdale, Arkansas, and how chicken transformed a once-sleepy rural town into the most ethnically diverse city in the state—and among the most diverse in the South.