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Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  353 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Pub Date: 2009-02-17 Pages: 336 Language: English Publisher: HarperCollins When Robert F. Kennedy. Jr.. first asked Nicolette Hahn Niman to head up his environmental organizations hog campaign. she balked Investigating hog manure pollution was hardly the. glamorous assignment she pictured when leaving everything to work for him in New York. But Kennedy. she discovered. is ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 17th 2009 by William Morrow
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Oct 14, 2009 Zinta rated it it was amazing
For many years, I thought I had been doing the right thing, eating the right foods and watching out for my health. I thought I was an environmentalist, caring about the preservation and good stewardship of the natural world we live in.

Holy cow, was I wrong.

Some time ago, I was reading another good book about human behavior, and what is required for us to behave against our own values. Compartmentalization was a concept I came to understand is absolutely necessary for most of us to act in ways
Jun 28, 2010 Pia rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in years. this was a really well written book on industrial farming. She starts with the hog industry in NC, and how the closed containment farms are a disaster for the environment, the polluted rivers and estuaries are a result of the manure and urine of the hogs. And how superbugs/viruses have developed as a result of antibiotics that are added to the daily feed of the animals (pig, chicken) living in crowded, stressed, disease laden envirnoments. The antibx com ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Maddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, memoir, own
If you are going to read a book about where food comes from, read this one.

This title was chosen for the 2012 Linn Area Reads program - which brings the community together through reading a single book. I started too late to participate in the book discussions but am excited about the various events in the next few months including meeting the author!

At first glance I thought this book would be similar to Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals: part memoir, part indictment of the industrial food
Bill Laine
Jul 20, 2010 Bill Laine rated it it was amazing
"While I fully accept the appropriateness of humans raising animals for food, I do not accept that humans have a right to treat animals cruelly in the process, least of all for the purpose of higher profits"

That sentiment about sums up the philosophy of Nicolette Hahn Niman after a books worth of life-journey and immersion in the practices of producing food from animals.

Bobby Kennedy, Jr decides to set his Waterkeepers organization after the confinement pork industry because of the strain they
May 03, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
Part documentary on modern farming, part memoir, Niman tells what she learned on her journey through battling pollution by industrial ag companies and her relationship with the sustainable farming advocate and cattle rancher she eventually married.

My frustration with her book is that I feel like she tries to make her argument through two distinct methods: her thorough research, which really got me to rethink things; and her claims of the moral superiority of traditional farming, which made me wa
Nov 07, 2009 Annie rated it really liked it
This book is part memoir, part history and partly just informative. It belongs to the same family as the current popular food reformers in the Michael Pollan camp, but it's distinctly separate as well.

The story begins with Niman's first experiences with industrial hog farming as Robert Kennedy Jr.'s lead attorney for his environmental action group, Waterkeepers. Legal drama interspersed with tales of environmental degradation and human interest stories made the whole thing pretty compelling, al
Aug 06, 2015 BookBec rated it it was ok
Wow, did this book ever get off track! We spend the first half with Nicolette as she works for Waterkeeper, learns about hog factory farm pollution, and files lawsuits demanding that industrial ag mend its ways. Then -- kaboom! -- she quits that job, the lawsuits are left dangling, and we head off to learn about her new life as a rancher's wife and hear her musings on beef, dairy, fish, food shopping, and religion. Perhaps she had a book contract before she quit Waterkeeper and had to do somethi ...more
Feb 11, 2012 g-na rated it it was amazing
Righteous Porkchop is very similar to The Face on Your Plate, which I just finished reading, but it is also an entirely different book. The similarity lies in that R.P. really does tell you the truth about food; you learn about the major types of animal foods--milk, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, and fish--as well as specifics about how the animals are housed, fed, drugged, and treated. It goes in-depth on subjects such as how "old-fashioned" traditional farms actually improve the soil in their envi ...more
this is a very informative book, i have read many books on factory farming so a lot of the information was not new to me, however, it was from a fresh perspective, a vegetarian (very much not a no-meat activist) learns the ropes and marries a cattle rancher..quite the twist. i will say it was very enlightening to the cattle/beef production versus all other. definitely some good facts there. also, i learned that 80% of all seafood and fish is imported and 90% of shrimp is, almost all from china w ...more
Sierra Bailey
Dec 05, 2015 Sierra Bailey rated it it was amazing
I need to start off with this book, as I have been talking about it non stop for almost 3 months now. I should begin by stating that it didn’t register when I picked this book up (I must not have read the back) at Barnes & Noble that it was authored by the wife of Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch. It made the book that much more wonderful though, as I lived and ran restaurants in the Hudson Valley of NY for a few years and was very familiar with the high quality of both their meat and phil ...more
Jul 21, 2009 Steve rated it liked it
A very interesting, fact-filled book.

The negatives: several typos (annoying), the middle drags on a bit, and it is a slight bit of "propaganda" for Niman Ranch.

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives, however, and I found myself very into the book, especially in the beginning and end.

I'd say my favorite section (where I learned the most) turned out to be the section on seafood and farmed fish; I learned a lot about eating it, and Niman's information debunked a lot of hearsay about seafoo
Feb 04, 2010 De rated it really liked it
The more I learn about industrial farming the less I wonder why we're all sick, fat and tired. Honestly. And now to see that we're messing with the organic standards as well just makes me look at my local farmers who actually take pride in what they do. I'll be happily handing my cash over to them.

This book was definitely full of good information, if a little slow to read. Nicole's passion for research definitely shows but at times makes for slow going. A must read for all those concerned about
Mar 15, 2009 Myriah rated it it was ok
This author has certainly researched her topic, and she takes you along for the ride. I think her topic is incredibly interesting, however the book's documentary feeling can be a little hard to get through some spots. You know how when you are watching a documentary and suddenly you get to listen to music as you watch images fly by that in reality took weeks, maybe months to happen? Well, I wish this book were like that instead of trudging through the mundane.

On page 87 we read, "A year after l
Feb 14, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This was a great supplement to the Omnivore's Dilemma. While Michael Pollan spotlights the beef industry in industrial agriculture, Niman explains that the pork and chicken industries are arguably in worse in terms of pollution, treatment of animals and food safety. She also highlights the fish industry (aquaculture) and though brief, it was eye-opening. Her book is less pedantic than Pollan's. Niman is an environmental lawyer and focuses on how these industries break the law. The best part is t ...more
Jessica Culhane
Jan 08, 2017 Jessica Culhane rated it really liked it
If you want to read a book about factory farming, I'd recommend you start with "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer, but this is an excellent choice as well. Like Eating Animals, this book touches on the animal welfare, human health, and environmental effects of factory farming. Most of the book is focused on hog lots. I'd say that Niman is slightly biased about cattle given her current occupation (cattle rancher), but still agree with what she has to say.

I never thought I'd be a hippie buyi
Nov 29, 2008 Alexa rated it liked it
Shelves: green-ish, food
There is far too much about litigation (against big mean hog containment "farmers" which is important but has boring day-to-day details) and far too little about this porkchop mentioned in the title. If you like food books and you make it past the first third of the book, you'll probably like it, unless you really like the first third in which case you'll probably stop after the first third. I did appreciate that the author's big love story wasn't larger than life in the book and sat somewhere i ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
It's pretty great, and I learned a lot (though much of the information was already in my brain because of Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation). Righteous Porkchop falls short of my 5-star, Must-Read rating because I was a little irritated by how much the author was inserting herself into the story without a clear reason for doing so. I could overlook this if it was just a waste of a few pages, but Niman lost focus in some of the chapters because her personal details got in the way. This is especiall ...more
Mar 11, 2009 Dana rated it it was amazing
I'm only on p.56, but already having anxiety about the sources of the meat, dairy, and eggs we eat. Not that I am a stranger to this discourse. I've read Michael Pollan and Peter Singer. And, honestly, I'm beginning to feel as if "eating ethically" might be something only the rich have the luxury to do. That is, unless you swear off meat, dairy and eggs entirely. But then again, could I give up cable TV and spend the $96 a month on the above-mentioned foods, yes.

All of that said, Nicolette Hahn
Nov 04, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
A memoir focused on the ethical treatment of animals in factory farms and the gross violations of the Clean Water Act by the pig, dairy and chicken industries. Hired by Bobbie Kennedy to head up the investigation into hog manure pollution for the Waterkeeper Alliance, the book follows her career which ultimately brings her to marry the founder of Niman ranch. This book gives more reasons to pay attention to where your food comes from and the impact factory farming has on our health and the healt ...more
Andrew Garrison
Sep 26, 2011 Andrew Garrison rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food-books
Excellent read. Along the lines of the Omnivore's Dilemma, but much more graphic and in-depth. She does a great job at exposing the animal, human, and ecological cost of the industrial agricultural complex. Hit close to home because of my brief stint working the line at the Hormel plant in Austin. Highly recommended to anyone who is concerned about eating ethically and the cost associated with our daily eating habits.
Jun 20, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Another interesting book about our food industry...particularly where our meat/dairy comes from. The author tells her story, first from a political view (she started doing legal legwork for Bobby Kennedy) and ends up marrying a cattle rancher. It is a book about the humane treatment of animals, how our food is processed, the additives to our foods, the quality of our water supplies, etc.
Another eye opener and an interesting book.
Aug 25, 2009 Jayme rated it really liked it
The beginning of this book was a little difficult for me. I stopped eating chicken for a week...which I know was not the author's intent. There are better ways to farm and raise cattle, poultry, fish, etc. and if we all educate ourselves on where our food comes from maybe we can encourage the agricultural industry to practice these better ways. It will not be easy, but it will not be impossible like some believe. It just takes a commitment.
Karen Finch
Jul 16, 2014 Karen Finch rated it really liked it
A well-written and enlightening book about factory farming. Even if you don't think you want to read this book, you should. It isn't that long, but it's quite educational and chock full of information anyone who eats food needs to know in order to make good choices.

I saw Nicolette speak in Mountain View, CA a couple of months ago. That prompted me to read the book. She has another one coming out on Beef.

BTW, did you know you're better off eating beef than chicken?
Josh M
Jul 07, 2009 Josh M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really opened my eyes to the world of ethical farming, and the atrocities that are comitted in order to bring mass produced food to our tables. Animals kept in awful conditions on these factory farms, and pollution is unchecked most times.

Its a sad, but realistic book that shows you what goes into the food, that goes into your mouth. Think twice about that McDonald's burger! I can honestly say that it helped me to become a more ethical consumer.
Jul 02, 2012 Dee rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book reporting on the industrialization of food production in the USA. It primarily focuses on Pork, but also covers chicken, beef, fish. The author is an excellent writer - easy to read. She worked as an activist in this arena. The book also offers excellent resources and ideas on how to improve the safety of your food, the environment and how animals are treated in this country. I recommend it to everyone!
Sep 01, 2009 Becka rated it it was amazing
An intriguing read that educates readers about the risks of our industrialized food supply. Ms. Niman writes from the unique perspective of a vegetarian now living on a cattle ranch. The book is an auto-biography intertwined with expose, which makes for a quick read. It doesn't stop with the expose, but goes on to discuss where to find "good" food and just how small lifestyle changes can make a difference.
May 25, 2009 Amber rated it liked it
I enjoyed what the author had to say, but her general tone throughout the book struck me as somewhat self centered in that the "right" always seemed to conveniently fall around her personal choices and views. She happens to have married a beef rancher so therefore beef must be the most humane of meat choices etc. I didn't really expect this to be as much of a memoir and was hoping for more of an information/research based book. Still enlightening though.
Jan 03, 2013 N. rated it really liked it
Kudos to Hahn Niman for bringing the truth of modern meat production to our attention. It was an engaging story, not just a compilation of facts. Though it was compelling, it was also thoroughly disgusting. It taught me so much about the harsh conditions animals are raised in, and offered alternatives for more humane meat consumption. The research is unmatched; this is certainly an invaluable read. It has undoubtedly changed what we eat at our dinner table.
Tina Cipolla
If you eat meat this is a really great expose on the factory farming model for meat production, especially pork. The one thing this book doesn't do is give enough meaningful suggestions for sourcing non-factory farmed meats. That would have been a nice addition--to sum up by saying exactly where you can find and buy non-factory farmed meats. If you are new to this topic--and I am not--this book is a good introduction to everything that is wrong with agribusiness.
It is taking me ages to get through this book, but it's a good read. I find parts of her logic flawed, especially her views on the corn-fed meat industry. Kind of hard to take someone who is literally sleeping with the meat industry seriously. But, overall, a good read. My goal is to finish this book this weekend and move on with my life.

Update: She gets way too preachy at the end. And pulls in Christianity to show that Jesus ate morally/righteously, and therefore so should we.

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