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beyond beef

Satisfactory Essays
Jeremy Rifkin’s book, Beyond Beef, is an indictment against the cattle culture that has come to shape our world. America’s obsession with beef has led to increased hunger, disease and environmental destruction. Rifkin, without a doubt, is anti beef and with painstaking verisimilitude attempts to shed light on the horrific conditions which are brought about by the entire industry. Furthermore, his book is somewhat of a continuity of Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, the first attempt made at exposing the exploitations of the meat slaughtering industry.
Ironically and rather unfortunately, the present situation is that while the poor nations of the world are starving their own populations to produce and export beef, the rich, who are able to afford beef, are dying from diseases. Rifkin has several chapters dedicated to the host of illnesses those beef eating individuals are susceptible to. The titles include, “Sacrifice to Slaughter,” "Cows Devour People, “and "Marbled Specks of Death." One point he makes is that because of the widespread use of antibiotics among the cattle industry, the “human population is increasingly vulnerable to mor virulent strains of disease-causing bacteria” (12). Rifkin further attests that beef, but ranks second as the food posing the greatest cancer risk. The reason is simple: beef is the most dangerous food for herbicide contamination and ranks third in insecticide contamination. Eighty percent of all herbicides in the United States are sprayed on corn and soybeans which are used primarily as feed for cattle and other livestock. When consumed by the animals, the pesticides accumulate in their bodies. The pesticides are then passed along to the consumer in the finished cuts of beef. Large feedlots have other sources of potential chemical contamination in beef including use of “industrial sewage and oils in feedlot mixtures and aerial spraying of insecticides on feedlot cattle” (13).
Furthermore, Rifkin indicts the human civilization and sheds light into the barbarous actions of men in the early development of the cattle culture. One of the most effective is in the chapter, "The Great Bovine Switch," an expose of the atrocities committed by the United States Army and cattlemen. Rifkin states that the cattle culture was responsible for the demise of many Indians,
When we get rid of all the Indians and buffalo, the cattle...
Will fill this country...These men [the buffalo hunters] have done...more to settle the vexed Indian question than the entire regular army has done in the last thirty years.
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