Meat: A Love Story

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Overview

The amusingly enlightening adventure of a woman hunting for the truth about meat— and why it's still good enough to eat.

After spending a week working undercover at a slaughterhouse and being tormented by blood, the stink, and the squeals of animals being herded to their death, author Susan Bourette decided to go vegetarian. She lasted five weeks and thirty-seven hours.

Dissatisfied with tofu and lentils, Bourette wondered, Isn't there a way to...

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Overview

The amusingly enlightening adventure of a woman hunting for the truth about meat— and why it's still good enough to eat.

After spending a week working undercover at a slaughterhouse and being tormented by blood, the stink, and the squeals of animals being herded to their death, author Susan Bourette decided to go vegetarian. She lasted five weeks and thirty-seven hours.

Dissatisfied with tofu and lentils, Bourette wondered, Isn't there a way to have my meat and a clear conscience too? It's a question that will resonate with millions of happily carnivorous Americans—we eat more meat per capita than any other nation—who are unwilling to give up steak for soy but are alarmed about mad cow disease, E.coli poisoning, and the filthy, inhumane conditions on chicken and cattle farms.

On a quest for superior meat, Susan Bourette takes readers behind the bucolic facade of the famous Blue Hill farm, north of New York City; on a long, hot cattle drive at a Texas ranch; a whale hunt with the Inuit in Canada; a Canadian moose hunt; and behind the counter in a Greenwich Village butcher shop. Humorous yet authoritative, Meat: A Love Story celebrates the deliciousness of meat and the lives of the passionate professionals who hunt, raise, or cook it. With a deft touch, Bourette explores what it means to be a compassionate carnivore.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

"Meat is the new black," declares Toronto-based journalist Bourette at the onset. She became a vegetarian after having once worked four days at a meatpacking plant for less than $10 an hour before disclosing herself as a reporter. Vegetarianism lasted less than six weeks before she resolved to find meat she felt good about eating. Her quest comprises the narrative's bulk and takes her from an old-fashioned Greenwich Village meat-shop butchering tutorial to the Inupiat whale blubber harvest. In Alaska, Bourette fathoms the relationship between meat and its provenance, and teases that out in subsequent chapters describing such topics as the workings of a Texas cattle ranch and moose-hunting season in Newfoundland. Throughout, she covers the broader subject of meat, including the history of American beef and its subcultures and controversies such as the impact of agribusiness and climate change on ranchers. The narrative moves swiftly and broadly at the gain of historical and cultural perspective but at the expense of well-thought-out conclusions and scene development so that the actual experience of eating meat often gets the shortest shrift. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Americans eat an average of 260 pounds of meat each year and have developed what investigative journalist Bourette calls "a culture of meat." Fascinated by this, she was determined to share experiences with a variety of meat-eating groups. The Inupiat north of the Arctic Circle, those affiliated with a slaughterhouse and a pasture-based farm, and (the most bizarre) devotees of the Primal Diet, who believe that meat should only be eaten raw-these are a few of the groups sharing their carnivorous attitudes. Bourette also proposes that each American generation seems to reject the foods of its preceding generation, an idea to ponder. We can't ignore the conflict between our treatment of animals-factory farms, growth hormones, etc.-and the pleasure we take in the consumption of meat. Both a personal story and a study of human behavior, Bourette's book is something like a cross between Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. Love of meat is not required to enjoy this; it will be satisfying for members of most food cultures. Recommended for all libraries.
—Elizabeth Rogers

Kirkus Reviews
Canadian journalist and conflicted carnivore Bourette tours the meat industry, looking to justify her choice. Like many people, the author has grappled for years with the moral, environmental and nutritional conflicts associated with her decision to eat meat. But Bourette took her internal battle one step further, taking a job at the Maple Leaf Pork slaughterhouse in Brandon, Manitoba. The descriptions of days slicing out pig cheeks are appropriately horrifying, but the experience didn't turn her into a Morgan Spurlock or Eric Schlosser. Rather, after a requisite post-slaughterhouse vegetarian stint, Bourette set out to find more natural, moral ways to enjoy meat. She saddled up with a multigenerational family of Texas ranchers and was shocked to find that, among other things, the steaks there were tough and the ranchers jaded, with little hope for their future. She went truly rustic on a whale hunt with the Alaskan Inuits and a moose hunt in her native Canada, contemplating the history of the human hunter, the thrill of stalking and killing in order to eat and the unrivaled taste of truly wild nutrition. She experienced firsthand the greenmarket revolution sweeping the New York food world, visiting the organic Blue Hill farm north of the city that supplies many major New York restaurants, and she apprenticed for a week in an expensive Greenwich Village butcher shop. At the end, Bourette tried to neatly tie up all her experiences with kitchen string by serving a rib roast to friends. But ultimately all she offers readers are a few interesting slices of life. Without a thesis or strong conclusion, this journey seems frivolous and self-indulgent.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399154867
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Bourette is an award-winning investigative journalist based in Toronto. She writes regularly for The Globe and Mail, and her writing has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Maclean's, and Elle.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2008

    A reviewer

    I heard this writer on talk radio and decided to buy the book. She's funny and very engaging even if she can be a little squeamish at times. Mostly I enjoyed ''meating'' all of the people from different cultures in the meat world on this guided tour. Full of fascinating details, factoids and insight. Also, the writer raises and (mostly) answers some very important questions about the ethics of meat-eating. A great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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