The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture
Economist, social theorist, technologist, activist and writer Jeremy Rifkin has authored 21 books. Rifkin grabs the major issues of our day, digs out the key points, and helps us understand why we need to think and care about them. He weaves together jaw dropping facts into a narrative that keeps you fascinated and engrossed from the first page to the end. Rifkin informs us that the earth's current population of 1.28 billion cattle occupy nearly 24 percent of our planet's landmass. There are 40% more cows in Australia than people. In Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture Rifkin tells us how that happened and what that means. He takes us from the dawn of civilization and tells the story of cattle's role in the making of western civilization. Its a cultural story and a story of political and economic power. The spread of cattle helped fuel the battle for the west and the desire and demand for cattle helped fund the building of the railroads and the handing over of huge tracts of public land to the the cattle barons. We also learn about the Beef Trust and the industrialization of beef. Rifkin hammers home the connection between feeding cattle and starving people. He also spells out the connection between cattle and the global environmental crisis. Nearly half the water now used in the United States goes to grow feed for cattle and other livestock. Rifkin tells us that each hamburger imported from Central America requires the clearing of 6 square yards of jungle - considering the 75 McDonald's hamburgers sold every second underscores Rifkin's concerns. McDonald's burgers require clearing nearly 10,800 square miles a year - larger than the area of Maryland. He finishes by laying out the consciousness of beef-eaters and gives us a fascinating view of ourselves. Rifkin convinces us that solving the issue of feeding a growing human population and solving our major environmental issues will require grappling with the issue of cattle and the cattle culture. Rifkin published this book in 1993 and it remains as topical as when it first came out. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.