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Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World
Synopses & Reviews
The cow. The most industrious animal in the world. A beast central to human existence since time began, it has played a vital role in our history not only as a source of food, but also as a means of labor, an economic resource, an inspiration for art, and even as a religious icon. Prehistoric people painted it on cave walls; explorers, merchants, and landowners traded it as currency; many cultures worshipped it as a god. So how did it come to occupy the sorry state it does today—more factory product than animal?
In Beef, Andrew Rimas and Evan D. G. Fraser answer that question, telling the story of cattle in its entirety. From the powerful auroch, a now extinct beast once revered as a mystical totem, to the dairy cows of seventeenth-century Holland to the frozen meat patties and growth hormones of today, the authors deliver an engaging panoramic view of the cow's long and colorful history.
Peppered with lively anecdotes, recipes, and culinary tidbits, Beef tells a story that spans the globe, from ancient Mediterranean bullfighting rings to the rugged grazing grounds of eighteenth-century England, from the quiet farms of Japan's Kobe beef cows to crowded American stockyards to remote villages in East Africa, home of the Masai, a society to which cattle mean everything. Leaving no stone unturned in its exploration of the cow's legacy, the narrative serves not only as a compelling story but as a call to arms, offering practical solutions for confronting the current condition of the wasteful beef and dairy industries.
Beef is a captivating history of an animal whose relationship with humanity has shaped the world as we know it, and readers will never look at steak the same way again.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Rimas, a journalist and managing editor, and Fraser (agriculture, U. of Leeds, UK) present a detailed and informative account of beef consumption in our society, documenting how the domestication of cattle has evolved as a food source, economic resource and even as artistic and religious inspiration. The authors combine history, agribusiness data and personal anecdotes from those in the beef industry to illustrate how human development has been influenced by this animal, and outline what we can do in the future to avoid wasteful and unhealthy practices such as growth hormone implementation. Several recipes, offered as "culinary interludes," are included in each chapter. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The authors offer an exuberant, panoramic view of the cow's rich legacy in its entirety, from breeding to braising, hunting to worshipping. Rimas and Fraser also provide practical solutions that can guide the industry toward a more sustainable future.
Andrew Rimas and Evan D.G. Fraser have joined together to tell the remarkable story of the noble cow in Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World. In the bestselling tradition of Cod and Salt comes a lively history of our ongoing relationship with an animal that we have worked alongside, consumed, and even worshipped for thousands of years. The history of the cow is both surprising and fascinating, and Beef offers a unique overview of cattle yesterday, today, and tomorrow—from adoration to breeding to braising; from ancient Mediterranean bullfight rings to African villages to American stockyards—complete with amazing facts and trivia, wonderful recipes, and an important warning for the future of beef production.
About the Author
Andrew Rimas is a journalist and the managing editor of the Improper Bostonian Magazine. He has worked as an associate editor for Boston Magazine and his writing has appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Globe Magazine, and the Ottawa Citizen, among other publications. He lives in Boston.
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Engineering » Engineering » History