October 13, 2013
In Meat We Trust by Maureen Ogle
This is a really hard book to review. It's certainly well researched and well done (over 100 pages of notes and bibliography). But it also lacks interest at times. Which considering the amount of time that was probably spent on it, is sad.
Meat We Trust follows the history of meat production. From its humble beginnings on regular farms, to the development of factory farms, the different methods that were used to increase production, and the evolution of American's taste for meat and what type of meat. How accessible meat is to everyone regardless of income and the different laws and rules in place to keep it that way. And the sanitary laws that also came into play, along with an alternative food movement that wants to impose more regulations for how food is labeled.
There were a lot of people who developed the meat industry into the way it is today. Pioneers with technology and men out for a profit. You get to see how Tyson built his empire, and all the acquisitions he made. There are some descriptions of people in the alternative food realm who produced organics well before they became popular. And there is some talk of Ralph Nader and the movements against giant food corporations that he instigated. So an ambitious "cast of characters" in all.
This book starts at the beginning and shows how factory farms came about. Which means you got to hear about all the technology and the numbers of pounds of meat people were consuming. Each decade has its own numbers and innovations and it all points to ever increasing consumption. However, all those numbers and descriptions make the book slow moving and tedious to read. I found some of it interesting but at times it felt like there was detail thrown in just to use some of the research. And I wasn't sure how the author felt about everything. In some parts she's derisive about the organic movement while at other times the tone is admiring. Same with the factory farms. It was kind of confusing.
This is a well researched book, but it's just not attention grabbing. I think those interested in history and food politics will find it a good read though.
In Meat We Trust