Factory, by David Kirby (Hardcover, 2010)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
The book isn't objective. However, the author doesn't pretend that it
is. Reading it felt like having a discussion with someone who had a
particular viewpoint and was trying to persuade me to agree with it. The
persuasion wasn't the cheap shot kind, and there were no leaps of logic.
Nor did the author rely on disinformation (though many of his sources
are noted for doing so). And, the author did present opposing
On this particular topic, I don't think "balanced" is possible. What
is "balanced" about dumping tons of sewage into public streams? Even so,
the book does somewhat give us the side of the story that the CAFOs
(Confined Animal Farm Operators) want to tell.
Over the years, I've read plenty on this topic of factory farms. The
author's main points are correct. I disagree with his idea (implied, not
explicitly expressed) that Democrats are good and Republicans are bad. I
really don't see any difference between the Crips and the Bloods other
than their colors and rhetoric.
Toward the end of the book, the author discussed the hope that small
farmers and anti-CAFOs had in presidential candidate B. Obama. I find
such hope and trust to be naive, as the man's voting record as a senator
made it clear he wasn't watching out for anyone other than special
interests. The golden rule is that those who have the gold make the
rules. So where big money speaks, it creates a monologue. The rest of us
are disenfranchised unless we go to extraordinary lengths to be heard.
The point I just made is evident in the various accounts given
throughout the book. The frustration expressed by "activist" Rick Dove
sums this up several different ways, several different times. I put
"activist" in quotes because it's a loaded word that often gives the
wrong impression. Dove is no pie in the sky, fact-challenged radical who
wants a utopia. Using hard data, empirical evidence, and straightforward
logic, this ex-Marine worked hard over many years to stop the immense
damage being done by some irresponsible people. I believe all Dove has
ever wanted is for people to respect the rights of others.
I would say Dove is really aiming at respecting the commons. The
concept of the commons is worth exploring, if you haven't yet done so.
It's really what's at the heart of this book.
On the whole, this book is informative. What I liked best, though,
was Kirby's analysis of the real cost of food. As with many other
things, we often don't see the real cost. It's hidden, often through
externalization. The CAFOs reduce food costs at the checkout register,
but greatly increase food costs elsewhere. You pay far more than it
appears you do at the cash register. I won't try to sum up Kirby's
analysis, because he did it so well. Read the book to see what it is.
This book is 452 pages long, with 22 pages of notes/references and a
substantial index. It consists of 18 chapters and an epilogue. Though
the book is long, I never got tired of reading it. The writing style is
short on filler and big on keeping the reader interested. It flowed
The book mentions a video you've probably seen, The Meatrix. If you
haven't watched it, do so. This will help give you a feel for one of the
threads running through this book.
If you want to better understand how much your food really costs,
this book will help you do that. I think it's a great addition to
anyone's library. But more than that, I think it helps the reader
understand an issue that is literally of growing importance.