For the past several centuries, the watchword of American industry has been standardization. Everything must be uniform and orderly, parts interchangeable. This urge to trim production costs eventually invaded agriculture, even animal husbandry. The result was chicken and hog farms where animals never saw the light of day and grew fat on drug- and hormone-laden feed. Lately, many writers have cautioned that huge industrial farms create as many problems as they solve. There are issues of animal disease, waste disposal, and inferior meat, let alone concerns of animal welfare advocates. Niman outlines all of these matters, documenting them carefully. She cites some recent studies that indicate that hidden costs of industrial farming actually make meat more expensive when environmental cleanup costs are factored into the equation. Attorney Niman chronicles her personal mission to enlighten the world of industrial agriculture, an odyssey that culminated in her marriage to one of the nation’s most noted sustainable ranchers. –Mark Knoblauch
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