May 08, 2013

Milk Money by Kirk Kardashian

Ok, first off I want to say that there are a lot of risque products with the same title as this book being sold out there. This is not one of those. This review is for the book about a liquid that comes from cows and its impact in the US market.

Milk Money is a brief look at dairy farming in the USA. Ranging from the death of small dairy businesses, to stress on dairy farmers, conditions of dairy workers and farmhands, and the price of milk, almost every conceivable topic about milk is covered. There are internal looks at how some of the smaller and larger farms work. Why the industry is dying and farmers are going of business and to new businesses that are focused on quality are cropping up and thriving. There's even a look at the organic milk industry and how it really runs.

I wasn't really surprised by a lot of what I read in this book. Greed is a very big factor in America's food system and a lot of quality is cut to drive prices lower and lower. The way people treat animals says a lot about them and those cows are generally not treated the way you would expect from the sunny ads advertising milk on tv. As the writer, Kardashian presents a sometimes biased account of the farms and the big milk producers. His bias isn't without merit though, he provides facts to back up how he feels about these enterprises. But some of his comparisons are a little sensational and detract from the overall theme of the book.

This book is a quick read and for the most part easy to understand. There are sections (especially when we get to anti-trust laws and business laws) that are harder to understand and the sheer volume of acronyms makes things confusing. I actually felt myself trying to skim the pages at these parts and had to actively go back and reread sections just to make sure I was understanding what was being presented. I'm not sure what could be done to make that part of the book flow better, but how it is now just wasn't working for me. In contrast, the more personal stories, like that of Sam Simon, the farmer focused on organics, was very interesting and captured your attention. Those personal stories are clearly where Kardashian's writing strength lies rather than in brute facts. Still, he did a good amount of research on the subject.

I'd probably give this book 3.5 stars. It is chock full of information but can be tedious to read at times and will cause a good portion of the general population to not delve into the book. It's rather the fanatics and people who are obsessed with knowing where there food comes from (of which I'm entirely guilty of) who will slog through this book to the very end.

Milk Money
Copyright 2012
253 pages

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