Book Report: Pig Tales

Reviews of books relevant to the food movement.

pig tales book on sustainable pork

One sentence summary of this book: An exploration of “the other white meat” from feral pigs to CAFOs that uncovers how the commercial pork industry affects us all.

Book title: Pig Tales
Author: Barry Estabrook
Publication date: May 4, 2015
Keywords: pork, farming, CAFO, antibiotics, gestation crates

Memorable quote: “I wanted to find out how mass-produced pork met with such a fate and learn everything I could about modern hog production. When I told my partner of my plans, she sighed, ‘Does this mean I’ll have to give up eating bacon?’ This book is my answer to that question.”

Key points:

Pig in los angeles
  • Pigs are smart, as smart as 3 year old humans, and have unique personalities.
  • Wild pigs are breeding uncontrollably in the US, especially in South Carolina and Texas. There are an estimated 4 million to 8 million feral pigs currently living in 48 of our 50 states.
  • Industrial pig production scaled up and consolidated. Now it focuses on high quantity at the expense of high quality.
  • Pig production is not subject to the same environmental laws as other systems.
  • Large pork producers hire cheaper immigrant laborers to work at factory-farms and exploit disadvantaged community members.
  • Pork production in Denmark is markedly different than in the US. The system there is better for the animals, the environment, and the farmers.  
  • Some individuals and organizations in this country produce pork in more animal-centered and healthier ways.
reading pig tales in los angeles on sustainable pork

reading pig tales in los angeles on sustainable pork

Critical reception: Barry is currently rocking 84% 5-star reviews on Amazon. He scored a positive review from Kirkus and solid interviews with NPR and Civil Eats. This book is well-liked in its niche!

My opinion: Pig Tales is well-researched and well-organized. Estabrook is a talented storyteller and weaves together the good and the bad in this industry. His examples of everyday folks whose lives have been affected by the industrial pork system are heart-breaking, but still hopeful.

Should you read it?: If you ever eat pork, yes! You’ve seen cheap pork chops and bacon at your grocery store, now it’s time to get educated on why those low prices are detrimental to communities and the environment. For those well informed about the food movement and for newbies, this book has facts and stories worth reading. And in the end, the author doesn’t give up bacon, he’s just much choosier about where he buys it.

Happy reading!