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Farmageddon

The True Cost of Cheap Meat
Narrated by: Julian Elfer
Length: 13 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Environment
4.5 out of 5 stars (78 ratings)

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Summary

Farm animals have been disappearing from our fields as the production of food has become a global industry. We no longer know for certain what is entering the food chain and what we are eating - as the UK horsemeat scandal demonstrated. We are reaching a tipping point as the farming revolution threatens our countryside, health, and the quality of our food wherever we live in the world.

  • Our health is under threat: half of all antibiotics used worldwide (rising to 80 per cent in US) are routinely given to industrially farmed animals, contributing to the emergence of deadly antibiotic-resistant superbugs
  • Wildlife is being systematically destroyed: bees are now trucked across the States (and even airfreighted from Australia) to pollinate the fruit trees in the vast orchards of California, where a chemical assault has decimated the wild insect population
  • Fresh fish are being hoovered from the oceans: fish that could feed local populations are being turned into fishmeal for farmed fish, chickens, and pigs thousands of miles away
  • Cereals that could feed billions of people are being given to animals: soya and grain that could nourish the world’s poorest, are now grown increasingly as animal fodder
  • Epidemic waste underpins the mega-farming model: While food prices rocket, surplus food is thrown away

Farmageddon is a fascinating and terrifying investigative journey behind the closed doors of a runaway industry across the world - from the UK, Europe, and the USA, to China, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico. It is both a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices and an attempt to find a way to a better farming future.

©2014 Philip Lymbery and Isabel Oakeshott (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Listen to this if you want to become vegan

This is a terrifying but believable account of the impact of intensive farming. Everyone should know this story.

3 people found this helpful

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Good book, bad reading.

If you could sum up Farmageddon in three words, what would they be?

Industrial farming's bad!

Who was your favorite character and why?

It's not a fictional book.

What didn’t you like about Julian Elfer’s performance?

The subject matter is shocking, but a few hours in it seems to take a toll on his mood, he speaks with a downwards inflection towards the end of sentences which makes the book seem especially dreary.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It's 15 hours.

3 people found this helpful

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Must read!

This should be mandatory reading for everyone. It is a total eye-opener, even for convinced vegetarians and vegans and even for readers of 'Eating Animals'. Very well written and narrated, it is well-structured in thematic chapters and quite comprehensive, dealing both with animal farming (cattle, poultry, fish...) and with crops.

2 people found this helpful

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life changing

fascinating and informed journey into the world of factory farming which has been kept hidden from us, with some quite uplifting possibilities for improving. it is gripping and we'll narrated. I'd recommend to everyone - as compassion in farming is an issue that we are all responsible for.

1 person found this helpful

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  • li
  • 22-04-15

Life changing!

From start to finish, I enjoyed every minute. Excellently written and narrated. Reveals the terrible truth about modern farming across the world and what you can do as a consumer. Such a powerful book, I'll be recommending it to everyone.

1 person found this helpful

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The agony that provides our nourishment.

What did you like most about Farmageddon?

The honest approach that the authors have to all aspects of the 'Food Industry'. It tears the lid off how our produce is determined, in many ways, we the consumer are directed to purchase 'certain products', even against our will. Much of this is by clever advertising, product endorsement also downright under-hand methods.

What did you like best about this story?

The breadth of the subjects dealt with,are numerous, cereals, livestock, pollination and animal waste. Further to the above, each aspect of the subject was examined in depth revealing very often more alarming elements to be found, many of which impinged on related farming factors.

Which character – as performed by Julian Elfer – was your favourite?

Julian Elfer was probably stronger at characterising Philip Lymberry, as his voice was masculine. He would reference the co-author Isabel Oakshott, but certainly attempt her in the dialogue.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The transportation of the bees for the Almond Pollination'. The incident was when a lorry overturned, not only wrecking the lorry, but angering some 5 million bees who were loosed into the countryside from the damaged hives, with the risk to life and limb of frustrated bees.

Any additional comments?

We are all probably aware that 'Factory Farming' provides the food that we buy, little knowing the lengths that 'Corporate Methods' determine how we will become consumers, innocent but complicate consumers.

1 person found this helpful

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what a great book

if you thought you knew about chicken Meet and why you shouldn't eat it and what Meet you should be eating this is the book

2 people found this helpful

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Repetitive.

I agree whole heartedly with the points raised in the book...the first time it was said. However the author is at such pains to drive home his point that you are told over and over again how wasteful and polluting factory farming is ad nauseum, without any variation. It's like the audible version of modern documentaries that need to repeat the salient points after every advert. If I was the average thick consumer I probably wouldn't be reading this book. I think you could remove 50% of this book and not miss any of the presented facts.

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Worth persevering with...

The factual information in this book is important and at times shocking, and the author gives good justification for his reasoning and helpful tips and suggestions for more sustainable consumption.

I did find some of the writing eyebrow raising in its privileged outlook and old fashioned somewhat colonial turns of phrase. This was enhanced by the affected accent of the narrator whose 'interesting' pronunciation choices grated on me to the point of wanted to just turn the whole thing off and find a summary of the facts. I also don't think the writer could have mentioned he was the CEO of Compassion in World Farming any more if he'd tried!

However, there was no denying the facts were compelling and I just hope that the way they are presented doesn't turn people off the book's central, and crucial, message that regardless of whether or not you eat meat or care about animal welfare, factory farming is not sustainable for our health or our planet.

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Solid read on the impact of "Cheap Food"

Insightful, interesting and well delivered. Not obtrusive on what you should consume, however gives great insights into the long term damage of intensive farming, our cheap quick diets and the community damage worldwide

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  • Grazyna
  • 19-04-14

Excellent insight of industrial farming

Any additional comments?

The authors explain in an interesting way methods used nowadays to provide endless meat resources to the supermarkets. It is an interesting story of the industry and how it affects communities worldwide providing facts and research based evidence of the influence that modern farming has on people and planet.
It gives a food for thought on how the world is changing and why we should think twice about the origin of the food we are eating.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Brandon Hayter
  • 04-04-15

Excellent listen

This book was very well written and read. It opened my eyes to the effects that factory farming has and why we as consumers must use our money to change the demand. Buy local organic free range grass fed :)

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 16-02-15

The narrator

For some reason, the British accent turned me off to continue listening. Informative, but I couldn't finish it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TM
  • 11-12-14

On The Wrong Track

Any additional comments?

You only need to have little bit of common sense to see that monocultures are a bad idea. You only need a little bit of compassion to feel that the way modern farming practices treat animals is wrong.
You only need a little bit of conviction to change your grocery shopping habits, just a little at first, then perhaps snowballing in to finding yourself buying mostly local, mostly organic, mostly plant-based, and so on.

Start the journey and see where it takes you. I feel good because the food I eat is healthier AND because the food-systems I support with my purchases makes the world a bit happier.

Listen to this book if you want a catalyst for making the change.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Richard J. Mcgrath
  • 08-05-14

Painfully slow narration

Would you try another book from Philip Lymbery and Isabel Oakeshott and/or Julian Elfer?

I didn't like the narrator. He started at a good tempo (as in the audible sample) but slowed to an annoyingly pedestrian pace part way through. The narration shouldn't be so slow that it gives you time to contemplate each word.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

I was hoping for a little more education and a little less story.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator needs to read sentences, not words. The reading had a very deliberate feel to it. It wasn't flowing. It just wasn't easy to listen to.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

For the most part, I enjoyed the author's writing, and I likely would not have returned the book had the narrator read the material at a faster pace. Given the title, I was expecting something a little more educational, and a little less biographical, and I was disappointed with how little I learned from the book. There are nuggets of interest buried in mountains of verbiage.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Phillipa Mitchell
  • 11-10-19

Mind-blowing eye-opener, even for a vegan!

Up until about one hundred years ago, farmers would grow their crops and farm their animals on one piece of land. Each animal and bird and insect worked harmoniously together. The cows and sheep would eat the grass, the pigs and chickens would relish the leftover cuttings of fruit and vegetables, and the ducks would munch on snails that made their way up the stems of the fruit trees and crops. Every animal and every insect had a special role to fulfil in keeping the soil in pristine condition, and it happened quite seamlessly, and as naturally as it possibly could—because nature always finds a way.

But then somebody decided to take the animals off the land and put them in sheds. They called it factory farming. It was “the new way” of doing business, and the government subsidised it heavily. Many farmers who refused to comply went out of business.

The soil was no longer fertilised by the animals as they walked around; instead chemical fertilisers were brought in to do that job. The soil never had a chance to regenerate, and the animals never saw the sun again.

In their sheds, the animals were enclosed in tiny pens or cages. They no longer bred naturally; many were artificially inseminated instead. No longer did they feed off the land; they were fed soy and grains and fish meal instead, food meant for humans, much of it being shipped halfway across the world to get to them. Leftover fruit and vegetables were thrown away. Their urine and faeces was pumped into rivers. Sometimes it ended up in large man made dams. The fish could hardly breathe. The birds flew away. The flies moved in. So much of the environment was being destroyed. Yet nobody seemed to care.

Suddenly, the farming of animals became completely mechanised. Everything was about how much could be produced, and how quickly it could be done. Farming for need quickly became farming for greed. Before long, the scientists were genetically modifying and selectively breeding these animals so that they could be meatier, produce more milk, lay more eggs, and grow quickly and be ready for slaughter faster. Animals were fed antibiotics to control disease. They were injected with growth hormone to grow faster. Unable to move around freely, their flesh became fatty and unhealthy. Not once did anybody think about the impact this was having on human health and the environment.

The truth is, the impact is catastrophic. If you’re not already sick, you will be soon. If it’s not high cholesterol, it’s diabetes or heart disease or cancer, and a host of other lifestyle and auto-immune diseases, with a healthy dose of osteoporosis thrown in for good measure. The medical profession is making a killing—quite literally.

The little calf, the tiny lamb, the fluffy yellow chick, the pink piglet and the sweet little lamb born into this cruel world are unable to understand why nobody cares about them, other than when they are held down to have a numbered tag punched through their ear, or their tails docked, or their teeth removed, or they're lifted onto a conveyor belt to have part of their beak removed—and they think that maybe the human is going to be kind to them.

The land cries out, it’s topsoil depleted, trees cut down to make space to grow more soy and grain to feed these animals. Factory farming has ruined the lives of animals, the health of humans, and the sustainability of our planet. Yet so few people seem to care.

Have a look at these photos. These pictures depict how the average factory farmed animal is kept. Most of the meat and dairy sold in our supermarkets comes from places like this. Restaurant and fast food chains keep their margins high by buying from these establishments too. This is what is hidden from the consumer. Clever labelling with pictures of happy animals makes us think that everything is okay. But it’s not. And it never will be. Not until the consumer raises their hand and says, “No, I will not accept this, I will no longer support this.”

As individuals, we have a great deal more power than we think we have. Farmers will breed their animals based on our demand. If we simply choose to eat something else—something healthier and more sustainable to the environment, something that stops all this unnecessary suffering—we can tip the scales and restore balance to the world around us, a world that is quite clearly out of kilter. All we have to do is decide to be the change we want to see in the world.

EDIT: The purpose of this post is to educate the unaware on the origins of factory farming. Whereas I do not support the farming (i.e. exploitation) of any animals for food (or anything for that matter) AT ALL, no matter how the animals are farmed, I think it is important that those who consume animals and who are not “in the know” understand exactly where most of their meat and dairy comes from. Ultimately, my hope and dream is that people make an ethical connection to what is on their plate, realise that that piece of flesh was once a living, breathing being, and, if what they’re eating suffered in any way to get there (which every animal does, no matter how they are raised—slaughterhouse practices are brutal, rushed, and most certainly inhumane) they simply choose to leave that food off their plate and make kinder choices in future.

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  • Luke GJ Potter
  • 14-12-18

Audio was poor, the content was good/scary

The audio kept slightly changing volume.
The content of the book was good. It's scary really, to know what is actually going on in the Industrial Farming sheds.
I hope more people listen to this and change their habits.

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  • P. Ben
  • 15-09-17

very superficial analysis

Many of the claims in this book are well documented by multiple studies (mass extinction of wildlife species, epidemics of obesity, rise of more resistant bugs due to overuse of antibiotics in industrial farms, etc). All of these issues, however , are also widely reported by the more serious news outlets. What is the point of reading a book that basically repeats what you can get from a Google search, a few Wikipedia entries and some NYT articles? This books basically repeats widely available information in an arrogant tone and through lots of stories that range from irrelevant to deeply unrelated examples. These stories are brought to make the narrative more dramatic, and they take a lot of space from what should have been extensive analysis of serious research. I expected a book that could explain the complexity of the latest scientific research on issues like the overuse of antibiotics in farms, I already know this is an issue, as most people who read the news. instead of deepening my knowledge on this, the book offered sad stories about dying children.
Some fundamental topics are not discussed at all. I only listened to half the book because I got tired of hearing a collection of sad stories with no scientific analysis. Most sad stories are about animals. Working conditions in intensive farming are not even mentioned. The author cares about animals, surrounding communities and consumers . Workers don't seem to exist. They are barely mentioned. Stories about the chickens owned by the author occupy more space than the analysis of working conditions.
a waste of time...

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  • J. Piper
  • 08-08-16

Eye opener

I will be changing the way we buy all our fish poultry and beef. The evidence is depressing and overwhelming.

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  • DDT
  • 02-08-16

A must read

This book is an eye opener. Anyone concerned with what we are eating and doing to the environment should read this book. It's informative, interesting and in ways disgusting. Once you read this, you will be more conscience of what you are buying and putting on the dinner table. If only it could be a requirement in the school systems perhaps we can get younger generations to charge a bigger movement that is in motion today.