Thursday, June 10, 2010

Non-Fiction: Animal Factory by David Kirby

In Animal Factory (St. Martin’s Press) David Kirby (Evidence of Harm) asks some thought-provoking questions. One of the scariest of them is this: will anyone want to listen?
Many Americans have no idea where their food comes from, and many have no desire to find out .... The willful ignorance of our own food's provenance is curious, given our Discovery Channel-like fascination with the way in which everything else in our modern world is made.
As Kirby himself points out, this is beginning to change. Certainly anyone who manages to read even part of Animal Factory will find themselves unable to look at many things in the same way.

Kirby uses all his skill as a crack investigative journalist to tell his story through the lens of three families -- and their communities -- whose lives have been horribly impacted by the factory farms in their neighborhoods.

Considering the passionate feelings Kirby uncovers in his travels, Animal Factory is a surprisingly level book. It’s clear what side of the fence he stands on, but it’s not difficult to see why he’s standing there. From the introduction:
Everywhere I went, the story was the same: [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations] had fouled the air. spoiled the water, threatened property values, changed the face of local agriculture, and made life miserable for thousands of people, though certainly not everybody.
Even if you’ve never given a thought to the welfare of the animals raised in factory farms, recent public health crises -- swine flu, bird flu, mad cow and others -- have been forcing us to pull our collective heads out of the sand. Animal Factory will give you a close look at many aspects you might not previously have considered. It is a book that is capable of changing you. The question is: are you ready to change?

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