Monday, 29 August 2016

Farmageddon by Philip Lymbery

Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat by Philip Lymbery
First published by Bloomsbury on the 30th January 2014.

Included on my vegan blog, HirlGrend, and one of my Ko-Fi Friday Reads

I am transferring my Farmageddon review from my other blog, Stephanie Jane, to Literary Flits today to link in with the Animals Are Not Freight protest taking place all over the world. You can find out more about this important day of action in my Stephanie Jane blog post.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Farm animals have been disappearing from our fields as the production of food has become a global industry. We no longer know for certain what is entering the food chain and what we are eating as the UK horsemeat scandal demonstrated. We are reaching a tipping point as the farming revolution threatens our countryside, health and the quality of our food wherever we live in the world. Farmageddon is a fascinating and terrifying investigative journey behind the closed doors of a runaway industry across the world from the UK, Europe and the USA, to China, Argentina, Peru and Mexico. It is both a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices and an attempt to find a way to a better farming future.'

I have been strongly affected by reading Farmageddon. It is a powerful illustration of the short sighted approach taken to food production since the 1950s. I expected most of the book to cover familiar ground as I thought I had a good grasp of the current situation regarding factory farming in the UK. It turns out that I don't!

I was shocked by the degree of illness and disease reported in densely farmed animals. Even farmed salmon, which I buy thinking it is the responsible way to preserve wild stocks, have volumes of lice that are nauseating to consider. I was also amazed to learn about the lack of nutritional value of the resulting meat. Dave and I have noticed our food seeming bland compared to remembered meals in the past, but had assumed it was our tastebuds fading. Apparently this is not the case and the unnaturally speedy growth rates of these animals are the cause. Also, the sheer volume of food and drugs consumed by these animals in their short, unpleasant lives cannot possibly be sustainable, and I don't want my taxes continuing to be spent on subsidising the system.

Fortunately, after all the doom and gloom of animal suffering, ludicrous volumes of waste, destroyed land and rivers, there is a strong message of hope and extensive suggestions for how individual consumers can help to make a real difference. And it's not just Go Veggie either! Realistic advice that we plan to follow includes buying smaller quantities of higher welfare meat. I think the price should then be similar overall and the nutritional content will be higher. Meatfree Mondays is another fun idea for which there are numerous recipe suggestions online (from independent sources, not CIWF).

With regards to the actual writing, I did wonder if the material had originally been conceived as independent essays or lectures because there is a fair amount of overlap to the themed sections. I normally read books cover to cover within a couple of days, but found the repetition too much in this case. Reading a single section then putting Farmageddon aside for a while before returning to it I think is a better approach. The repetition then feels more like reinforcement! Arguments are well made and examples of practices are given from around the world. Most facts are backed up with notes of their sources, although flipping to the back on a Kindle is tedious so I soon gave that up! Nonetheless, I would recommend Farmageddon to pretty much everyone as an eye-opening read.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Phillip Lymbery / Diet and food books / Books from England

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