Safran Foer's work is personal, detailed, and broad. Therein lies its many strengths and some of its weaknesses. It's not a textbook or study so much as a personal reflection and personal investigation of how we produce (most of) the animals for consumption that we do.
In turns, it's horrific, painfully sad, and very funny--if darkly so. At points it meanders a bit and goes into detail that others may not. Over all, the detail and focus is riveting and well written.
The narration is performed at a rate, I feel, that matches very well the sense of reflection and poetic cadence of the book; and of course one has the option to speed up if one wants (at least with an iPod). I would not.
All in all, this is a book that you can turn back to again and again, that provides mental sustenance to support better choices in how you may choose to live and how to feed yourself and your family.
This book makes some good points about the benefits of a vegetarian or at least ethically farmed omnivorous diet, but it's all been said before. For a better narrated, well written version of this book, I recommend "The Omnivore's Dilemma".
Otherwise known as My Leisurely Journey to Vegetarianism And Incidentally You're An Idiot If You Don't Convert To It Also
I was pretty let down by Foer's first stab at nonfiction, especially since the reviews said it was even-handed. This was not as detailed or remotely objective as Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation. Although it had some interesting information - like the brief info about PETA and Smithfield - I felt like I was being force-fed (trying... to... avoid... puns) the conclusions instead of letting me have the facts and come to revelations/decisions on my own. And the conclusion-jumping was a bit much: If we stop eating meat > animals won't be hurt > factories won't pollute > Global Warming will cease > we'll be happy lettuce munchers.
With the two books mentioned above (which he openly criticizes) there was a pull instead of a push, and I didn't feel like I was being talked down to. This just made me feel entrenched in meat for no other reason than I was insulted... and it makes me want to bathe in steak and drink turkey blood.
Tone aside, this does present a good case against animal cruelty, which even meat-lovers would want to change. Reform is something we need to demand, but saying that the only way to change factory farming is to become a vegetarian is just plain naive.
This is a fresh, literary, almost poetic look at the evils of factory farming, told from a very personal and accessible perspective. I only wished the narrator read a little faster and left out many of the longer pauses.
#1, hands down
I have not listened to J.T. Ross narrate anything before, but he did a wonderful job with Foer's book. In fact, he is my favorite narrator now - a perfectly "neutral" voice and excellent with quotations from both men and women.
As a life-long omnivore who has never gone out of her way to learn about where her supermarket meat comes from, there were numerous moments that alarmed me, horrified me, and made me incredibly uncomfortable. Foer has some pretty graphic descriptions of factory farms and slaughterhouses, and his interviews with their employees were pretty awful.
Highly, highly recommended for omnivores considering vegetarianism. (I've tried mentioning this book to omnivores not already considering vegetarianism, and they've generally responded with, "I don't want to know.")
I did enjoy the first 50-60% of the book, as JSF mixed stories of his youth with overviews & detailed looks at the meat & seafood industry. Then this book, which openly proclaims that it's not about how vegetarian eating is the only solution, spends the latter half of the book preaching the same mantra over & over again. Repetitive to the extreme, it's as if the author had all these clever lines that he needed to include in his treatise. Badly in need of some editing, that would at least make the preaching tolerable.
But the logical trap he tries to draw the listener into had the opposite effect on me. As he told story after story that ended with the same conclusion, JSF repeatedly spent 90% of his prose talking about the worst 1% of abuses. The effect certainly boomeranged, as I found myself questioning all the "facts" and cleverly stated statistics that he used throughout both halves if the book.
All in all, I'd still say the first half is a solid 5 star book, but the second half had me hoping the book would end sooner rather than later. There are certainly better books about the case against factory farming, for vegetarian diets and the health & ecological issues associated with meat eating. I wouldn't recommend this book.
I'm not sure. I haven't read the print version.
I appreciate the varying points of view, from farm owners of good, medium, and horrible farms... from employees who quit, employees who stayed, employees who give first-hand accounts of beating and torturing animals and why they did it.....
Of course there is always some bias information in a book like this, but he did a good job of at least listing facts and numbers, and not as many opinions.
This was a one-man dictation. I think there wasn't really a way to mess it up.
How YOU are perpetuating the situation
Foer is sly. He knew that everyone would be affected, and not everyone would take action, so I like his follow through in the last chapter. Well played.
This book is monumental for me. I will be making all the changes that I can reasonably afford to make, based on the concept that if I'm not boycotting, I'm participating in the problem. If you're not with me, you're against me.... right?
I won't be vegetarian, but I think we can handle less meat, and certainly glad to hear it was POSSIBLE to buy happy meat at places such as Whole Foods. I went there after reading this book and they actually have a rating system of how the animals were treated and how they lived. And what Foer doesn't mention (maybe because he's vegetarian, now) is that happy grass-fed, free roaming beef tastes WAY better.
I'm definitely scarred for life. Bravo, Foer!
I would have rated this 4.5 stars, but there is no option and I consider it closer to 5 than 4, because I thought that it was very well done.
What I loved was the balanced and reasonable viewpoint. I expected this book to lead straight to vegetarianism being the answer, but instead found it to be a quite balanced exploration.
It was a great book to read after Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemna" because it brought up different issues, and focused on different areas of meat eating.
A chicken farmer in one of the chapters. He really loved farming chickens the right way and treating them well, and is what a farmer should be.
More than ever before anyone who eats should be well advised on where their food comes from, how it produced, handled and brought to you.
This book blew me away. I was already moving in the vegetarian direction because of other thing I read or watch. This book helped me move that extra way into not eating animals or fish.
I recommend this to everyone for all the obvious reasons but beware that there are some things that might be disturbing.