Swine flu. Bird flu. Unusual concentrations of cancer and other diseases. Massive fish kills from flesh-eating parasites. Recalls of meats, vegetables, and fruits because of deadly E. coli bacterial contamination.
Recent public-health crises raise urgent questions about how our animal-derived food is raised and brought to market. In Animal Factory, best-selling author and investigative journalist David Kirby exposes the powerful business and political interests behind large-scale factory farms and tracks the far-reaching fallout that contaminates our air, land, water, and food.
In this thoroughly researched book, Kirby follows three families and communities whose lives are utterly changed by immense neighboring animal farms. These farms (known as “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,” or CAFOs), confine thousands of pigs, dairy cattle, and poultry in small spaces, often under horrifying conditions, and generate enormous volumes of fecal and biological waste as well as other toxins. Weaving together science, politics, law, big business, and everyday life, Kirby accompanies these families in their struggles against animal factories. A North Carolina fisherman takes on pig farms upstream to preserve his river, his family’s life, and his home. A mother in a small Illinois town pushes back against an outsized dairy farm and its devastating impact. And, a Washington state grandmother becomes an unlikely activist when her home is covered with soot and her water supply is compromised by runoff from leaking lagoons of cattle waste.
Animal Factory is an important book about our American food system gone terribly wrong—and the people who are fighting to restore sustainable farming practices and save our limited natural resources.
By the New York Times bestselling author of Evidence of Harm comes this dramatic exposé of factory farms and the dangerous public-health crisis created by some of the most powerful industries in America.
“As the readers of Kirby’s book will learn, nature’s clock is ticking and much is at stake for the planet and all of its inhabitants. Each page of this book is filled with powerful information. It has all the makings of a number one best-seller.” (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)
“In David Kirby's startling investigation Animal Factory, he gives a human face to the terrible cost our health and environment pay for this so-called 'cheap food'. This is a story that is seldom told and rarely with such force and eloquence.” (Alice Waters)
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Too long, too anecdotal, & too much heat with too
I was disappointed with the lack of science in the discussion of health concerns. For example, historically most cancer clusters have been a recognized statistical artifact (i.e. a sampling issue, not a health issue) in public health for many years. However, the author devotes many sentences itemizing these anecdotes and only a relatively brief allusion to the lack of causal association with CAFOs.
There is a legitimate argument to be made regarding pollution and the cost to society, but it is obscured by many pages of health effects innuendo.
He did not pronounce scientific names correctly.
Shorten family anecdotes in favor of a more thoughtful discussion of lack of health evidence, and legitimate debate on pollution, costs to society, and farm subsidies.