Cattle: An Informal Social History (Paperback)
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We force them into crowded, sedentary lives. We harvest their eggs and artificially inseminate them. We fill them with hormones and antibiotics, and we feed them manufactured pellets instead of the food they were meant to eat. They are commercialized and scientized--in many ways, just like us. Laurie Winn Carlson's intriguing book examines in fascinating detail the relationship between people and domesticated cattle, a resource that has been vital to civilization but long ignored and neglected. She considers the impact of science, technology, and economics on cattle, and how they in turn have influenced human history. Drawing on a wide range of sources, she shows how cattle have been worshipped in some cultures and become a symbol of pastoral freedom in others; what links them to women and the family; how the beef and dairy industries developed in Europe and the New World; how butter influenced the Protestant Reformation; how the cattle cultures helped settle North America; how meat became industrialized and margarine appeared as the first plastic food; and how science today continues to transform the lives of cattle and their connection to human beings. "With our problematic technology," Ms. Carlson writes, "beef--and milk--is now a food that engages plenty of concern, conflict, and fear. We are absolutely dependent upon cattle. We just don't realize how imperative it is that we protect them from further genetic and biologic degradation." Her book is serious social history spiced with rich anecdotes and surprising historical facts. With developing concern world-wide about livestock disease, Cattle could not be more timely.
About the Author
Laurie Winn Carlson's A Fever in Salem, a new interpretation of the New England witch trials, was widely praised. She has also written frequently on the history of the West, including Seduced by the West; Sidesaddles to Heaven; and Boss of the Plains. She lives in Cheney, Washington.