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No Happy Cows – A Review

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No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution by John Robbins.  2012

I just finished reading this book and could hardly wait to review it on this blog..  Mr. Robbins is the author of seven books including the well known “The Food Revolution” and “Diet for a New America”.   He is the only son of the founder of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire and thus grew up eating lots of ice cream and was expected to take over the family business.  But he had other ideas.

Everyone who eats should read this book.  From the Introduction: “No Happy Cows contains articles on topics like what’s fueling the rise of obesity, whether soy is healthful or harmful, the debate about grass-fed beef, the marketing of junk food to children, why we are seeing a rise in food contamination, the policies and health implications of chocolate and coffee, the perils and broken promises of GMO foods, and hormone disruption in children.”

The book is divided into four parts.  Part One (Caring or All Creatures) addresses our cultural treatment of animals (pigs, chickens, cattle) raised in confinement by factory farms.  My favorite chapter in this section describes the metamorphosis of a pig farmer using cruel techniques and mistreatment to becoming a small farm owner growing organic vegetables.  It’s a poignant and endearing story.

Part Two is entitled “What Are We Putting into Our Bodies”.  Mr. Robbins discusses everything from the controversies about soy grass-fed beef, food pathogens, growth hormone, and the influences of the giant company, Monsanto.

Part Three is entitled “Industrial Food Production- and Other Dirty Dealings.  This section brings to light the situations of Fair Trade in the chocolate and coffee bean industry.  Various chapters cover the relationship between KFC and breast cancer, McDonald’s blatant advertising to children, Coca-Cola’s promotion of the deceptive product, Vitaminwater.

Part Four entitled “Being Human in This Troubled World” gives us Mr. Robbins own personal feelings about his philosophies on food issues discussed in the previous sections. He tries to educate with compassion for those people who do not agree with his vegan-oriented approach.  He stresses being helpful to people in teaching them about food issues without being judgmental. He talks about human suffering, taking responsibility for ones health and the health of the environment as well as the fact that we should all work for a better world for us and our children.

From my perspective, I particularly was impressed and somewhat shocked by three issues covered in the book.  The first one was the ads promoted by the California Milk Advisory Board’s “Happy Cow” advertising campaign claiming, “Great milk comes from Happy Cows” and of course from California.  The irony is that although the ads depict happy talking cows – in reality, most live not on family farms but in relatively deplorable conditions in crowded factory farms.  They are confined to milk pumps, injected with hormones and fed antibiotics.  You more than likely have seen these ads. In case you missed one, Click Here.

Other troublesome issues were the influences of Monsanto and its promotion of the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in dairy cows that ends up in milk and ice cream and the genetically engineered soybean that is so prevalent in our food supply. He also presents the health pros and cons of soy products as well as grass-fed beef

One criticism is that he did not completely and clearly reference his facts with specific articles or studies.  He does list many books and documentaries for further reading or viewing, however.

This book is very readable, to the point and extremely informative about the troubling issues of the food supply in America.  I suggest you visit John Robbins website for more details about him, the book and the other resources he promotes.  Click here.

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