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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  383 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Righteous Porkchop is a searing, and utterly convincing, indictment of modern meat production. The book also brims with hope and charts a practical (and even beautiful) path out of the jungle.”
—Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food

“[A] necessary book—part memoir, part exposé…its reasoned case for healthy and humane farming practices has the
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 17th 2009 by William Morrow
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3.83  · 
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 ·  383 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Oct 14, 2009 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 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, food, 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 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
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was extremely influential in my understanding of where meat comes from and the horrible condition of farmers and animals in CAFOs.

Honestly, if you're choosing between Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma (which I also loved) and this one, I think Niman's book is harder-hitting and highlights the effects of CAFOs on the environment and farmers better than his. (Although she focuses primarily on Pork.)
May 03, 2012 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
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
What do you do if your dream home in a lush green rural area starts to get surrounded by hog farms? You sell before it gets too stinky. This book would be a great introduction to all those who are unaware about the dangers of CAFOs.
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not exactly what I expected, but a very good and important book. Up there with Joel Salatin- very much advocating a better way to farm, buy, and eat.
Nov 07, 2009 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 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 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 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 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
Mar 15, 2009 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 04, 2010 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
Feb 14, 2010 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 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
Mar 11, 2009 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 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
Jul 22, 2012 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
Alexa Hamilton
Nov 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, green-ish
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
Jun 20, 2010 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.
Karen Finch
Jul 16, 2014 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?
Mara Yetter
Everything you need to know but didn't want to about meat production, how she took on the pork industry in North Caroline and set precedents which allow communities to fight corporations who are breaking federal laws (Clean Air and Clean Water Acts), to raise meat. journal of a vegetarian's journey fresh out of law school, filing litigation against a major industrial menace,l through to her subsequent life married to humane husbandry, pastured meat mensch, Bill Niman of Niman Ranch.
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.

Rebecca Duncan
I hate it when I have to dislike a book that I agree with in principle because of the way those principles are presented. The author is a lawyer, not a journalist, but still the spin is profound. I felt duped midway through to find out she's married to a cattle rancher, and that fact shoots holes in her credibility. While she does make some good points, this isn't a sustainable-food-lit book that I would recommend to anyone just getting into the subject.
Becka Knox
Sep 01, 2009 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.
Jul 02, 2012 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!
Josh M
Jul 07, 2009 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.
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