While Americans may take a plentiful supply of hamburger patties for granted, the days of easy beef are threatened by climate change, dwindling Great Plains aquifers drained by irrigation and an unsustainable business model's thin profit margins, argue the authors of this lively and unsettling history-cum-polemic. Rimas and Fraser preface their sobering assessment with a panoramic history; they write vividly about the semimystical aurochs that became extinct in 1627, the Spanish bullfighting tradition, the African Masai's continuing reverence for cows, plagues that ravaged European herds in the 19th century, and the cowboy era of great cattle drives. Once fattened entirely on pasture grass, cattle are now confined to feedlots for half their lives, pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and stuffed with grain they aren't naturally equipped to eat, sacrificing quality for quantity. The authors lament that cows ceased to be animals and they became commodities, and they certainly aren't antimeat; their colorful account is well-seasoned with a series of culinary interludes for such dishes as bull's tail stew, steak tartare, beef jerky and, of course, the great American hamburger. (Oct.)
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Distinctive among the many titles currently assessing the role of carnivorism in modern life, Rimas and Fraser’s spirited approach examines the evolution of the role of beef consumption and its varying effects on diverse cultures. The aurochs depicted in primitive cave paintings offer evidence that early humans were already interacting with cattle in wild state. East Africa’s Masai still engage in exuberant communal hopping after gorging on fire-roasted beef ribs and blood-based stew. The Spanish tradition of bullfighting has less to do with food than art: it reflects the tragic, the performance played out in the corrida strikingly similar to the drama acted out in Shakespeare’s theater. Rimas and Fraser recount the little-remembered but devastating effects of rinderpest, an infectious disease that decimated Europe’s cattle into the nineteenth century, efforts to contain it thwarted by shortsighted, greedy entrepreneurs. A few well-chosen recipes break up the authors’ narrative. --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Very informative and entertaining. Great book for anyone in the cattle business or who loves beef.Published 9 months ago by Spawncam
Very disappointed in this book. It's not a great read nor does it follow through on the title promise: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World. Read morePublished on August 2, 2012 by ranwin33
I enjoy fiction and non-fiction equally. I enjoy books about food, and not just cookbooks. I enjoy all sorts of books about food, about the history of food, about how food is... Read morePublished on June 8, 2012 by S. Carey
Actually this is mostly about the history of cattle from prehistory until the present. As a result the book provides that general description in an relatively interesting manner. Read morePublished on November 12, 2011 by Jerry
While an interesting subject matter, this book was less than successful in engaging the reader in the story of how beef has been an integral part of human history. Read morePublished on August 2, 2011 by S. Montgomery
In the tradition of Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire and other recent histories of food, Andrew Rimas's and Evan D.G. Read morePublished on June 22, 2011 by Sheridan
Like Salt, Spice or other books in this genre, the breadth of research done is immediately obvious, but what impresses throughout Beef is the excellence of the writing. Read morePublished on July 15, 2009 by Oldscholar
I sat down to read this, and had a very difficult time putting it down.
This is an informative and well-researched history of beef, from the very beginnings of human... Read more