Like the last book I reviewed (How to Read Literature Like a Professor), I chose this one because it was on my Goodreads "to-read" list. I figured what was the point of having a to-read list if I never read anything off it?
Anyway... this book gets a better rating from me than the last, but I'm not sure it's because I enjoyed it any more (which I didn't, really)--I just want people to read it. It's important stuff. It's nowhere near as good as Eating Animals, but it might be more palatable (hardehar) for a general audience. It's less in-your-face, the snippets of information are easy to digest (I'm so punny). The reading level is like seventh grade, and it's very quick reading, so it's definitely got accessibility going for it. And it's also very engaging for the first half or so.
When I first started reading it, I thought it was really good. The first two sections, about the industrial food chain & the industrial organic food chain were excellent. The last third of the book really seemed to drag for me. I really don't care about this guy's hunting experience or his rambling stories about collecting mushrooms, or the work that ~he personally~ did on a farm. Okay, it's a great time for him, I'm glad, it'd be interesting to do it yourself...but I think his writing style is more suited to facts, and not so much to stories. Probably a reason he doesn't write fiction. (And that's not a jab--I prefer non-fiction and I loved the less personal aspects of this book. I didn't want to read a Michael Pollan travelogue.)
Also in the second half he had these weird ideas about animals. "If an animal could be happy..." If? Seriously? IF?? u fckn kiddin me bro? The mammals are where our evolutionary foundation for emotion comes from. It's not our ~~special emotions~~ that make humans "different" from animals, but our supposed "reasoning," which is often compromised by our animal emotions. (At this point in my review, I am reminded of Doug Coupland, who when he tried to make a list of human behaviors that have no animal equivalent, came up with merely smoking and body-building. So true. [He also had "writing" on his list, but in light of gorilla and elephant painers and bonobos & chimps that can use pictograms, it seems clear that animals do express themselves using symbols, which is basically what writing is. So we can strike that third item off the list.]) After repeating this line a couple of times "ho ho ho, IF animals could feel happiness, IF they can suffer...," he then makes the leap that cows, chickens, and other domesticated farm animals made what amounts to a conscious decision to become domesticated. So they don't have basic emotions but they have complex reasoning skills, allowing them to balance pros & cons and make what they consider to be a fair trade. o i c. I took a whole star off because of the the things stated in this paragraph, and if I didn't want more people would read it, I would take off more.
Also: references. Where the hell were they? Yeah, he cited the graphs that are sprinkled in...and that's about it. He claims that 1 in 3 children eat fast food daily. ONE in THREE!! CHILDREN!! DAILY!! Plz cite that 4 me. I am very interested. I find it hard to believe. I would be stoked to read up on this phenomenon. 19% of American meals are eaten in moving cars? That's a little easier for me to believe, but still...was this a scientific study? Did it rely on self-reports? How big was the sample and how did they recruit the subjects? I don't know, because Mr. Pollan does not tell us where he found this information from. This combined with the issues in my third paragraph remove a further star from the rating...
If someone doesn't see the harm in industrial processed food, I would definitely recommend this book to them (with the caveat that they can stop as soon as he leaves the Salatin's farm). It's really important stuff and I do wish more people cared about these issues. This book has the quick, easy and fairly "neutral" factor going for it and is very worthwhile.