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.)
"Ogle is a terrific writer, and she takes us on a brisk romp through two centuries of history, full of deft portraits of entrepreneurs, inventors, promoters and charlatans...In most median-income households, both parents work to stay afloat, and neither parent has the energy for daily shopping and careful cooking. That's what the food industry is for. Ms. Ogle believes, all exceptions admitted, that it has delivered Americans good value, and her book makes that case in fascinating detail." —Wall Street Journal
"Fascinating...Ogle skillfully presents a series of biographical portraits of meat's leading men, as well as the events that pushed America ever deeper into the animal factory." —The New York Times Book Review
"In Meat We Trust doesn't shy away from the realities of the modern meatpacking industry and presents it in realistic detail...Ultimately, Ogle finds there is a fundamental disconnect in the way many of us view meat. We want it; we want it cheaply; we want it made in a place where we don't have to deal with the sights and sounds of slaughtering animals; and we don't want it to come from factory farms. Something, Ogle says, has to give." —NPR.org
"Through lively prose and rigorous research, Ogle delivers a usable past that's equally empowering and sobering...Ogle tells this important story with admirable objectivity—no mean feat with meat at the center of a culture war." —Forbes.com "From the colonial origins of Americas carnivorous culture to the emergence of factory farming, Maureen Ogle provides a clear-eyed analysis of Americas meat-loving lifestyle, showing that concerns about the role of large corporations and worries about safety are far from new. This is history you can really sink your teeth into." —Tom Standage, author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses "To understand why we feel the way we do about meat, we have to know how we got here. Maureen Ogle illuminates todays debates by making us understand yesterdays. That will help us with our choices tomorrow." —Alan Bjerga, author of Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest "This is a lively and engaging history, balanced and fair-minded. It should cause many of us to rethink our knee-jerk condemnations of ‘factory-farming and the agro-corporations that dominate the American food system. It sure did that for me." —Harvey Levenstein, author of Fear of Food: Why We Worry about What We Eat
"A detailed and eye-opening account of how we came to eat so much meat and how the food industry has evolved to feed a growing domestic and global population...In Meat We Trust is an interesting, evenhanded and thought provoking history, one that traces the story of farmers, industrialists, grocery stores, chicken nuggets and above all, the American public. It provides plenty of food for thought, which, at the end of the day, is what as a nation have largely demanded already." —io9.com
"A fascinating read...What most people don't want to hear is that agriculture and food production is a complicated subject, often times not single-sourced as to its problems, and it took decades for the industry to look like it does today. If that interests you, too, Ogle's book is for you." —The Gazette "[An] excellent and iconoclastic history of 'carnivore America'...[Ogle's] book practically re-writes the history of meat, challenging many of our commonly held assumptions." —Toronto Star "Given the recent onslaught of publications picking sides on the issues of food production, Ogles bipartisan approach is a breath of fresh air...It can't be denied that Ogle has served up a lot of truth." —Publishers Weekly "An informative and entertaining narrative of the complexities of a massive industry, in which the author lays bare Americans sense of entitlement and insistence on cheap and abundant meat and questions what that voracious appetite has wrought on our bodies and the environment." -Kirkus Reviews "A well-researched history of the American meat industry that will appeal to readers looking for a counterpoint to Fast Food Nation and The Omnivores Dilemma." —Booklist
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.
The untold history of how meat made America: a tale of the oversized egos, self-made millionaires, and ruthless magnates; eccentrics, politicians, and pragmatists who shaped us into the greatest eaters and providers of meat in history.
The untold story of how meat made America: a tale of the self-made magnates, pragmatic farmers, and impassioned activists who shaped us into the greatest eaters and providers of meat in history
"Ogle is a terrific writer, and she takes us on a brisk romp through two centuries of history, full of deft portraits of entrepreneurs, inventors, promoters and charlatans.... Ms. Ogle believes, all exceptions admitted, that [the food industry] has delivered Americans good value, and her book makes that case in fascinating detail." —Wall Street JournalThe moment European settlers arrived in North America, they began transforming the land into a meat-eaters paradise. Long before revolution turned colonies into nation, Americans were eating meat on a scale the Old World could neither imagine nor provide: an average European was lucky to see meat once a week, while even a poor American man put away about two hundred pounds a year.
Maureen Ogle guides us from that colonial paradise to the urban meat-making factories of the nineteenth century to the hyperefficient packing plants of the late twentieth century. From Swift and Armour to Tyson, Cargill, and ConAgra. From the 1880s cattle bonanza to 1980s feedlots. From agribusiness to todays “local” meat suppliers and organic countercuisine. Along the way, Ogle explains how Americans carnivorous demands shaped urban landscapes, midwestern prairies, and western ranges, and how the American system of meat making became a source of both pride and controversy.
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.
Table of Contents
1. Carnivore America 1
2. “We Are Here to Make Money” 26
3. The (High) Price of Success 63
4. Factories, Farmers, and Chickens 90
5. “How Can We Go Wrong?” 123
6. The Vacuum at the Top 153
7. The Doubters Crusade 188
8. Utopian Visions, Red Tape Reality 223