A Depressing Read

The day after I finished reading Michael Pollan’s book, "The Omnivore’s Dilemma," a package arrived for me at the Daily Globe. Another book … a rather thick book.

A week or so earlier, I’d received an e-mail from a publishing company touting David Kirby’s new book, "Animal Factory," and requested a review copy. I’m trying this new concept … reading to learn something rather than reading for enjoyment. I don’t think the concept is working real well for me … this latest book is downright depressing (as was Pollan’s). I really don’t care for depressing books, especially when the sun is shining outside!

As you can imagine, Animal Factory is not at all favorable to industrial agriculture. In just the first nine chapters (a little less than half-way through the book), I’ve read about more manure spills, breached lagoons, fish kills, algal blooms, unresponsive government officials and fighting between farmers than I think I have ever read in my life.

Kirby, a journalist from Brooklyn, N.Y. tells the story of CAFO’s in three distinct areas of the country – from Yakima Valley, Wash., to Elmwood, Ill., and New Bern, N.C. – mostly set in the 1990s, from what I’ve read thus far.

As can be expected with a book called, "Animal Factory," the story of agriculture is predominantly one-sided. Kirby spends chapter after chapter getting his reader to relate to the vineyard owners, the river keepers and the hobby farmers, but I have yet to read so much as a paragraph of an actual conversation he had with one of these "industrial" farmers. Maybe that will come later in the book. Then again, maybe not.

Personally, I can’t wait to finish reading the book. As soon as I do, I’m going to rent a stack of comedies on DVD to rid myself of this depressing feeling.