Barry Estabrook, author of the New York Times bestseller Tomatoland and a writer of "great skill and compassion" (Eric Schlosser), now explores the dark side of the American pork industry. Drawing on his personal experiences raising pigs as well as his sharp investigative instincts, Estabrook covers the range of the human-porcine experience.Read more...
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Barry Estabrook, author of the New York Times bestseller Tomatoland and a writer of "great skill and compassion" (Eric Schlosser), now explores the dark side of the American pork industry. Drawing on his personal experiences raising pigs as well as his sharp investigative instincts, Estabrook covers the range of the human-porcine experience. He embarks on nocturnal feral pig hunts in Texas. He visits farmers who raise animals in vast confinement barns for Smithfield and Tyson, two of the country's biggest pork producers. And he describes the threat of infectious disease and the possible contamination of our food supply. Through these stories shines Estabrook's abiding love for these remarkable creatures. Pigs are social, self-aware, and playful, not to mention smart enough to master the typical house dog commands of "sit, stay, come" twice as fast as your average pooch. With the cognitive abilities of at least three-year-olds, they can even learn to operate a modified computer. Unfortunately for the pigs, they're also delicious to eat.
Estabrook shows how these creatures are all too often subjected to lives of suffering in confinement and squalor, sustained on a drug-laced diet just long enough to reach slaughter weight, then killed on mechanized disassembly lines. But it doesn't have to be this way. Pig Tales presents a lively portrait of those farmers who are taking an alternative approach, like one Danish producer that has a far more eco-friendly and humane system of pork production, and new, small family farms with free-range heritage pigs raised on antibiotic-free diets. It is possible to raise pigs responsibly and respectfully in a way that is good for producers, consumers, and some of the top chefs in America.
Provocative, witty, and deeply informed, Pig Tales is bound to spark conversation at dinner tables across America.
- ISBN-13: 9780393240245
- ISBN-10: 039324024X
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
- Publish Date: May 2015
- Page Count: 336
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.35 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-04-13
- Reviewer: Staff
In the 2011 bestseller Tomatoland, Estabrook took on industrial agriculture, faulting it for destroying the crops we eat. In this fascinating volume, Estabrook turns his attention to hog farming and the natural history of the pig. Although he lives on 30 acres in Vermont and has some pig farming experience, Estabrook eschews the common “going back to the farm” storyline in favor of an investigative journalism tack. In elegant prose, he highlights various topics such as porcine intelligence, the pig’s ability to destroy a landscape, hunting wild hogs, industrial hog farming, conditions in livestock processing plants, and sustainable “retro hog raising.” Some of his points aren’t ground-breaking—he scorns factory farms that poison the pigs and the land, while praising local farmers who respect their pigs and their customers’ well-being and offer tasty and healthier pork—but he has an admirable ability to clearly portray each person with a connection to hog farming, swine research, or animal rights, creating a personal connections that go beyond facts and figures. (June)