Animal Factory by David Kirby

7016412Nonfiction — print. St. Martin’s Press, 2010. 492 pgs. Library copy.

Subtitled “The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment”, Kirby’s book is not entirely what I was expecting. The first chapter introduces readers to three real life examples where concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) polluted the environment and the everyday people who have stood up to Big Agriculture. I’m accustomed to a book using examples to humanize an issue and then moving onto the more theoretical issues so I was a little surprised to turn the page to the second chapter and see the anecdotes continued.

Originally, I wanted the three stories to be told separately rather than being forced to jump from one issue to another. Having finished the book I can say the three narratives eventually come together in a meaningful way; I just wished I hadn’t spent the beginning of the book so confused.

I appreciate how Kirby does not demonize the farmer or the consumer rather he says that the system as a whole is broken. He largely shies away from animal rights and instead concentrates on the environmental and health problems derived from factory farming. I’ve largely noticed that people do not care about animals and rather it is the impact on them that encourages them to change their eating habits.

The Honors Project:

I read this book for The Honors Project, my own personal challenge to read more books about economics, food, and/or geography in preparation for writing my honors thesis. My goal for this project is to learn as much as I can about these topics so I can formulate better questions and, in turn, produce a better honors thesis. You can find out more information by checking out my introductory post, project post, or spreadsheet of titles.

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