March 27, 2011

Book review: Animal Factory (David Kirby)

Animal Factory is another book in what may soon become an over-saturated market on the source of our food, in this particular example, poultry, pork, and dairy. Kirby takes a look at factory farms/CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeing Operation) and their environmental impact.

Unlike other books on the market about similar topics, Kirby doesn’t demonize the CAFO farmers; in fact, he does spend time discussing the contracts offered to the farmers, typically heavily weighted towards the mega-corporations that offer the contracts, leaving the farmers essentially as indentured servants on their own land.

Rather than pure facts and figures, Animal Factory is a collection of anecdotes about not only factory farmers and those who are most directly affected by the farms, but also those who are actively fighting CAFOs and what happens those farms. Also different from other books on the subject, Kirby does not attempt to actively persuade the reader in any specific direction, instead just offering all that he has learned through his research while allowing that readers may still choose to purchase meat from CAFOs, though it is clear that Kirby would prefer readers opt out of that system.

Well-researched and readable, Animal Factory is worth taking the time to examine. From St. Martin’s Press and available from your local, independent bookstore. (Shop local, shop independent, and tell ‘em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)

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