In Meat We Trust (Hardcover)

An Unexpected History of Carnivore America

By Maureen Ogle

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780151013401, 384pp.

Publication Date: November 12, 2013

List Price: 28.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The untold story of how meat made America: a tale of the self-made magnates, pragmatic farmers, and impassioned activists who shaped us into the greatest eaters and providers of meat in history

"Ogle is a terrific writer, and she takes us on a brisk romp through two centuries of history, full of deft portraits of entrepreneurs, inventors, promoters and charlatans.... Ms. Ogle believes, all exceptions admitted, that [the food industry] has delivered Americans good value, and her book makes that case in fascinating detail." —Wall Street Journal

The moment European settlers arrived in North America, they began transforming the land into a meat-eater’s paradise. Long before revolution turned colonies into nation, Americans were eating meat on a scale the Old World could neither imagine nor provide: an average European was lucky to see meat once a week, while even a poor American man put away about two hundred pounds a year.

Maureen Ogle guides us from that colonial paradise to the urban meat-making factories of the nineteenth century to the hyperefficient packing plants of the late twentieth century. From Swift and Armour to Tyson, Cargill, and ConAgra. From the 1880s cattle bonanza to 1980s feedlots. From agribusiness to today’s “local” meat suppliers and organic countercuisine. Along the way, Ogle explains how Americans’ carnivorous demands shaped urban landscapes, midwestern prairies, and western ranges, and how the American system of meat making became a source of both pride and controversy.

About the Author

MAUREEN OGLE is a historian and the author of several books, including In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America and Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. Her website can be found at She lives in Ames, Iowa.


Praise For In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America

"Ogle is a terrific writer, and she takes us on a brisk romp through two centuries of history, full of deft portraits of entrepreneurs, inventors, promoters and charlatans...In most median-income households, both parents work to stay afloat, and neither parent has the energy for daily shopping and careful cooking. That's what the food industry is for. Ms. Ogle believes, all exceptions admitted, that it has delivered Americans good value, and her book makes that case in fascinating detail." —Wall Street Journal

"Fascinating...Ogle skillfully presents a series of biographical portraits of meat's leading men, as well as the events that pushed America ever deeper into the animal factory." —The New York Times Book Review

"In Meat We Trust doesn't shy away from the realities of the modern meatpacking industry and presents it in realistic detail...Ultimately, Ogle finds there is a fundamental disconnect in the way many of us view meat. We want it; we want it cheaply; we want it made in a place where we don't have to deal with the sights and sounds of slaughtering animals; and we don't want it to come from factory farms. Something, Ogle says, has to give." —

"Through lively prose and rigorous research, Ogle delivers a usable past that's equally empowering and sobering...Ogle tells this important story with admirable objectivity—no mean feat with meat at the center of a culture war." —

"From the colonial origins of America’s carnivorous culture to the emergence of factory farming, Maureen Ogle provides a clear-eyed analysis of America’s meat-loving lifestyle, showing that concerns about the role of large corporations and worries about safety are far from new. This is history you can really sink your teeth into." —Tom Standage, author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses

"To understand why we feel the way we do about meat, we have to know how we got here. Maureen Ogle illuminates today’s debates by making us understand yesterday’s. That will help us with our choices tomorrow." —Alan Bjerga, author of Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest

"This is a lively and engaging history, balanced and fair-minded. It should cause many of us to rethink our knee-jerk condemnations of ‘factory-farming’ and the agro-corporations that dominate the American food system. It sure did that for me." —Harvey Levenstein, author of Fear of Food: Why We Worry about What We Eat

"A detailed and eye-opening account of how we came to eat so much meat and how the food industry has evolved to feed a growing domestic and global population...In Meat We Trust is an interesting, evenhanded and thought provoking history, one that traces the story of farmers, industrialists, grocery stores, chicken nuggets and above all, the American public. It provides plenty of food for thought, which, at the end of the day, is what as a nation have largely demanded already." —

"A fascinating read...What most people don't want to hear is that agriculture and food production is a complicated subject, often times not single-sourced as to its problems, and it took decades for the industry to look like it does today. If that interests you, too, Ogle's book is for you." —The Gazette

"[An] excellent and iconoclastic history of 'carnivore America'...[Ogle's] book practically re-writes the history of meat, challenging many of our commonly held assumptions." —Toronto Star

"Given the recent onslaught of publications picking sides on the issues of food production, Ogle’s bipartisan approach is a breath of fresh air...It can't be denied that Ogle has served up a lot of truth." —Publishers Weekly

"An informative and entertaining narrative of the complexities of a massive industry, in which the author lays bare Americans’ sense of entitlement and insistence on cheap and abundant meat and questions what that voracious appetite has wrought on our bodies and the environment." Kirkus Reviews

"A well-researched history of the American meat industry that will appeal to readers looking for a counterpoint to Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma." —Booklist