Cowed: The Hidden Impact Of 93 Million Cows On America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, And Environment, by Denis Hayes & Gail Boyer Hayes
The problem with this book is that the authors have such wacky politics and such ferocious leftist biases that this book is completely beyond the abilities of the authors to deal with in a reasonable or successful manner. And that is a shame. Somewhere here there is a story that could be told well, a story about the interaction of corporate greed and the struggle of people to maintain family farms over generations and the consolidation of business in various aspects of agriculture. Yet that story is simply not told here because the author is so biased against business at all that no one other than fellow hippies and leftist activists within government ranks can get a positive hearing at all. The authors simply lack credibility because their bias is too strong and too consistent to make them able to discuss cows or farming fairly. And that bias makes this book impossible to recommend, because unless you already agree with the authors and their laughable claims to be people who subscribe to the New York Times but are able to talk fairly with farmers, this book will strike the reader as completely ridiculous.
This book is a sizable one of about 300 pages or so. It begins with the authors setting out their perspective and approach. After that comes a discussion of the popularity of cows (1), as well as their massive presence in the United States and even other places around the world (2). There is a discussion of the influence of cows and products made by cows in the home (3), as well as questions about biogas and health issues (4). There is a discussion of milking (5) as well as the meat industry (6), where the authors indulge in rather stereotypical fearmongering as a way of trying to make their point about food. Then there is a discussion of how cows are fed, which includes cannibalizing cows and rendered cow parts to give more protein to cows, quite against their own will and inclination and well-being (7), and then the authors’ plug for organic beef and dairy (8) that would be grown by friends and allies of the author. This leads to a closing section where the authors contrast their own leftist political views with a caricatured view of the opposition (9), as well as a call on people not to be cruel (10), after which there is a vain attempt at prophetic speculation, acknowledgements, notes, and an index.
The biggest thing that this book has going for it is a massive double standard. On the one hand, the authors claim to support eating beef when it is raised organically by local sources, but on the other hand, the authors support vegetarianism and show a disdain for dairy’s influence on the diet, even if they recognize that it is complicated trying to prove what is and what is not healthy. One would think that the difficulty of proof would lower the strident tone and firm statements of belief, but no, that is not the case. Similarly, the authors show a disdain for the high-tech ways in which cows are fed to fatten them up by eating various things, while showing fondness for the vat-made fungal sourced fake meat that may be disastrously unhealthy for us as human beings. Again and again, the authors show themselves unable or unwilling to give a fair-shake to anyone whose ideas are not clearly left of center, and whether they are dealing with politics or technology or culture, it is only those of their ilk who are viewed positively, which makes this book positively trash, and of very little value to anyone else, except as a statement of the authors’ own beliefs.