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CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories Hardcover – October 1, 2010
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"The book is fantastic."
-Martha Noble, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Author
"The book is stunning, visually and every other way."
- Eric Schlosser, Author and journalist
"Wow. That's all I can say."
- Sarah Rosenberg, ABCNews Nightline
"It's a powerful, oversized volume of images and writing on an issue that has been heating up this summer and promises to be in the news this fall as food safety legislation is debated in the Senate."
- Michael Pollan, Author, journalist, activist, and professor
From the Back Cover
The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories provides an unprecedented overview of concentrated animal feeding operations -- aka CAFOs -- where increasing amounts of the world's meat, milk, eggs, and seafood are produced. The rise of the CAFO industry around the world has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. The intensive concentration of animals in such crammed and filthy conditions dependent on antibiotic medicines and steady streams of subsidized industrial feeds poses moral and ethical concerns for all of us. Featuring more than thirty essays by today's leading thinkers on food and agriculture, The CAFO Reader is a behind-the-scenes journey into the dismal world of animal factory farming. It also offers a compelling vision for a healthier animal food system: one that is humane, sound for farmers and communities, and safer for consumers and the environment.
Top customer reviews
First, let me note that this book does a few things well: It includes both vegetarians and locavores in its discussion, instead of focusing on just one and alienating (or demonizing) the other. It includes several chapters on fish and the status of workers in our industrialized food system; too often we focus on the suffering of non-human mammals. Other chapters consider CAFOs from more scientific or technical points of view: the economics of food; biodiversity and natural selection. Again, these are issues that are often overlooked. And the pieces by the prominent names are well-done, though they're mostly reprinted.
On the other hand, roughly half of the chapters in this book are simply horrible, with overwrought emotional writing, little to no evidence, and tissue-thin arguments. If I gave this to a class of bright college students, they'd tear it to shreds -- and no doubt lose respect for me for assigning it. Several times, I nearly put the book down for good after grudgingly finishing an especially bad chapter. In the case of the piece by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., I almost threw the book across the room in disgust. Eventually I learned to just skip over those chapters that promised, in their first few pages, to be more polemic than analysis. This large part of the book is the sort of thing that encourage the stereotype of vegetarians and environmentalists as irrational, science-hating fanatics. If we want to convince people of the justice of our cause, we need to do so by offering them intellectually powerful reasons and incontrovertible evidence for our beliefs, not by tossing around `corporate' as though it were a four-letter word.
To be sure, some of the chapters are quite good; let me stress that only about half of this book has the problem I identified in the last paragraph. But how do you rate a book that's one-half horrible, one-third decent, and one-sixth great? I rate it three stars.