Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms
William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061466496, 336pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
When Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., first asked Nicolette Hahn Niman to head up his environmental organization's "hog campaign," she balked. Investigating hog manure pollution was hardly the glamorous assignment she pictured when leaving everything to work for him in New York. But Kennedy, she discovered, is not a man who takes no for an answer.
Thus began Niman's fascinating odyssey into the inner workings of the "factory farm" industry and her transformation into an intrepid environmental lawyer who goes up against the big business farming establishment andunexpectedlyfinds love along the way.
Starting her work for Kennedy's organization in North Carolina, Niman uncovers the shocking practices of hog factory farms, including inhumane animal confinement and devastating water and air pollution. She organizes a national reform movement to fight these practices and shows again and again that livestock farming can be done in a better waynot only for hogs, but also for poultry, fish, and dairy cows.
Through Niman's work, she also tours the best of farms, where traditional farmers and ranchers treat their animals humanely and have joined with other farmers to successfully market the foods they produce. She profiles the innovative and cost-effective methods these operations have incorporated to make a profit by ethical, sustainable means.
Along the way, the story takes a surprising turn when Nicolette is swept off her feet by a high-profile cattle rancher. At first, they seem an unlikely pair: Nicolette, a thirty-something, urban, East Coast, vegetarian attorney, and Bill Niman, an older, West Coast, cowboy type. But they share a passion for raising animals with kindness, and she soon finds herself transitioning to ranching life at the famed Niman Ranch in Northern California.
In telling her story, Niman details not only why to choose meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, and fish from traditionally farmed sources (and avoid products tainted by chemicals and antibiotic-resistant bacteria), but also how to do so. She reveals what to look for on labels, why to skip animal products from outside the United States, and what questions to ask when eating out.
A searing account of an industry gone awry and one woman's passionate fight to remedy it, Righteous Porkchop is a must-read for anyone who cares about food sources or good eating.
“A portrait of animal farming, from the small-scale to the mega-scale, that’s as notable for its clarity as it is for its vision. Required reading for anyone who eats.”
-Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns
“When Nicolette Hahn Niman became a cattle rancher, she discovered that when animals are given a life worth living, they can be raised for food in an ethical and sustainable manner.”
-Temple Grandin, professor, Colorado State University and author of Animals in Translation
“Righteous Porkchop is a compelling call for overhauling the way we produce food from one the nation’s most credible advocates. It’s also a great read. I highly recommend it.”
-Matthew Scully, author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals and the Call to Mercy
“The story that Nicolette Hahn Niman tells in this book is full of heroes and villains (of the two footed kind). Food lovers can only hope that America takes her message to heart and votes at the check-out counter.”
-Peter Kaminsky, author of Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine
“This necessary book—part memoir, part exposé—may briefly put you off your feed, but its reasoned case for healthy and humane farming practices has the sweet savor of truth.”
“Nicolette Hahn Niman is the smiling face of conscientious eating—righteous, but never self-righteous. With warmth and an engaging plainspokeness, she persuasively makes the case that activism bears results, that humane farmers are happier farmers, and that ‘compassionate carnivore’ is not an oxymoron.”
-David Kamp, author of The United States of Arugula
“Righteous Porkchop is a searing, and utterly convincing, indictment of modern meat production. The book also brims with hope and charts a practical (and even beautiful) path out of the jungle.”
-Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food
“A thoughtful and affecting memoir... Righteous Porkchop firmly establishes Hahn Niman as a major national voice for efforts to reform industrial animal production.”
-Marion Nestle, professor, New York University and author, Food Politics and What to Eat
“The fact is, most of us are hypocrites when it comes to food.... Fortunately for people like us there’s Nicolette Hahn Niman, a generally sane and sympathetic character, pushing us gently but firmly in a direction we know we should already be heading.”
-San Francisco Chronicle