The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend

Book CoverThe Compassionate Carnivore, Catherine Friend (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2009)

Most people relish eating meat. And Americans, with their hamburgers and their fried chicken, seem especially to appreciate the flavor of animal products. Yet, as Friend points out, few Americans want to be reminded that their pork chop came from a living, breathing animal whose wide eyes too easily engender sentimental anthropomorphizing.

Friend approaches her subject from the perspective of a farmer. She participates actively in raising lambs and ducks that eventually wind up on people’s tables, her own included. Given the environmental impact of animal husbandry, many people question if eating meat can be sustainable in this era of global warming.

Friend cautiously replies in the affirmative but only if consumers become much more frugal, wasting as little as possible. She also finds problematic the intersection of agriculture and industrial mass production that reduces live animals to the status of widgets. She also tries to bring order to the deeply confusing world of “organic” farming. (Review: Mark Knoblauch, for BookList)

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