By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories (Daniel Imhoff, editor; Earth Aware, 2010) takes no shortcuts as it squires us on an uncomfortable walk through the ways of modern meat production. It’s a grimy, grisly world and while much is immediately apparent, it’s important to stay for the entire tour so you can appreciate all the connections, redundancies and stupidity in the system.
This isn’t easy. There are pictures — and text — that are pure horror show; glimpses of the slaughterhouse where you can almost smell the stench. But stay on the walk, so you’ll understand. That’s important, because in the end, this is not about a more efficient system that’s brutal but necessary to feed the world, but about a super-controlled corporate game that’s out of control.
Read the essayists in the book, which include some of the finest food and agriculture writers of our time, and you will see that these operations bear no resemblance to your grandfather’s farm. This is an accelerated assembly line food machine that wrings out profits by turning a blind eye to the inhumane treatment of livestock and the brutal conditions borne by low-wage and contract labor.
Yeah, if you read this book, if you look at the pictures, there might be some personal fall out. You could get caught up in the cause. You may never look at a chicken nugget without wincing again. But that could be a good thing.