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Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture (Plume) Paperback – March 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Series: Plume
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452269520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452269521
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #833,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rifkin drives home the moral paradoxes of meat eating, issuing an important call to nutritional sanity and environmental ethics.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Rifkin (Biosphere Politics, p. 460, etc.), who seems to turn out environmental calls to arms on an assembly line, now turns his guns on beef--in this survey of the cattle culture's destructive role in the modern world and in history. Citing the works of others, Rifkin points to paleolithic bull and cow cults, to the clash several millennia ago between peaceful matrilineal agriculturalists and nomadic cattle herders who arose around the Ukraine and spread throughout the Old World, and to the North American West--where native populations and the buffalo they lived off were displaced and slaughtered to make room for the cattle industry, much of it financed by British interests, and where US taxpayers continue to subsidize beef ranchers and packers. None of this is original; and readers of vegetarian and animal- rights literature will already be familiar with the points addressed in Rifkin's subsequent indictment of our multinational- driven cattle culture with its devastating effect on the economies of developing countries; on the lives of starving Third World populations; and on the health of affluent populations who ``gorge'' on beef, tropical forests, the water supply, soil, and the global atmosphere. Animal Factories (1980) by Jim Mason and Peter Singer, as well as Food First (1977) and other works by Frances Moore Lapp‚ and Joseph Collins, are among the widely read works that are more forcefully and solidly argued. Nor are Rifkin's modish touches of punning deconstruction truly eye-opening. Rifkin's vision of a future ``beyond beef'' is only that, absent strategies or specifics. Still, by putting all this readably together, he might well win a new and different audience. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Interesting stuff, but read Lyman's book instead.
Wesley L. Janssen
Book sets stage for understanding what kinds of transformations are needed for humans to sustainably survive as population and appetites continue to grow voraciously.
Find out what pollution factory farms that raise cattle, chickens, pork, lamb etc produce as well as how inhumane the animals are treated.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jonah B. Manning on May 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
The first portion of Beyond Beef is a great description of the history of beef consumption and beef culture. Some of the more interesting parts to me were the sections dealing with the Brahmans in India as well as the near extinction of the American buffalo as a result of clearing the plains for bovine grazing.
After building the historical place of beef and cattle, Rifkin moves the story to present day and how beef is produced, butchered, packaged and shipped. Some of this section was particularly difficult to read during lunch, the descriptions of the slaughtering process are graphic and very detailed. Rifkin also explains the decreasing involvement of the USDA in the inspection of beef and the potential implications of this fact.
Other parts of the book which were informative to me were the chapters dealing with the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests. I, like most young Americans, have heard for years about the clear cutting and burning of the South American rainforests but never knew the details of this activity or exactly why the forests were being leveled. Rifkin explains this practice clearly and I am much more informed because of it.
Overall, Beyond Beef is an excellent read and if nothing else, will give you a great deal to ponder. It is clearly written with a slant against beef production and consumption and can come off a bit preachy at times. That being said, after you read this book, you will definitely want to pass it along to your friends and family, if for no other reason than to let them be informed when they bite into that burger.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
It was in reading Beyond Beef : The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture by Jeremy Rifkin years ago that I had a better idea of what I was seeing around San Joaquin County in Northern California as I drove around the dairies that stood close to the San Joaquin River and reeked of ammonia and manure dust in the air on windy days that left ones car and lungs dusted with a fine film. The cattle and their massive manure piles , are less than 30 yards from the San Joaquin River. Now consider some basic facts. Cattle produce a large amount of urine as it is. Now take one cow and multiply it by 100, 200 even 500. Now visualize all that urine going into the ground, where when it rains it soaks deeper and in dispensed into the small leech veins in the ground that in turn hook up with larger areas that feed into ground water and the river. Then look at the massive manure piles that dots the area and hang a clean white piece of clothe on your car antenna as well as a tree branch or whatever in the back yard. Then after you have driven around check the antenna clothe. After its been breezy check the clothe in the back yard. Then if you have the micro filters on you home air conditioner recheck them as well. What you will discover is pollution that has literally changed the white clothe-filter to either a light brown or a dark brown. Now consider what this manure dust does to your lungs.
If you are reading this review then you have access to a computer. Take the time to do some honest unbiased research online and see how much water and grain it takes to produce one pound of meat. Then see how much better it would be if the land was used to produce better food for humans.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on March 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
This was an important book in the early 1990s, and although the thesis demands our attention now more than ever, it is still generally ignored, perhaps in small part because Rifkin's book is not at all perfect. The first third is the author's 'abridged' version of the entire human-bovine history, and the critical reader will have ample cause to question many broad assertions in Rifkin's sweeping saga, especially in the early chapters. I must agree with an earlier reviewer who rightly describes Rifkin's 'historical' generalizations and selected references as being "a mile wide and an inch deep." It is unfortunate, but this stylized yarn-weaving detracts somewhat from critical assent when Rifkin finally approaches the 'meat' of the thesis in chapter 15.

There are many excellent points made when Rifkin finally makes room for them (parts 3-6), but the quality of his reference sources continues to be dubious in some, though certainly not all, instances. The book finally hits its stride and makes its import observations in parts 4 (Feeding Cattle and Starving People) and 5 (Cattle and the Global Environmental Crisis). If the information here doesn't direct the reader toward a vegetarian lifestyle (or at least to rethinking the centrality of meat in his/her diet), he or she may be a pretty hardened case of wanton self-indulgence and thoughtless hedonism. We must hope that sometime soon, western consumers might become as interested in the welfare of human beings and of our entire planetary home, as they are in self-pleasuring. In fact, the reader may want to read this portion of the book only (chapters 22-32) before moving on to a better book -- MAD COWBOY: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat, by Howard F. Lyman.
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More About the Author

One of the most popular social thinkers of our time, Jeremy Rifkin is the bestselling author of The European Dream, The Hydrogen Economy, The Age of Access, The Biotech Century, and The End of Work. A fellow at the Wharton School's Executive Education Program and an adviser to several European Union heads of state, he is the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Bethesda, Maryland.