Andrew Riely posted a review of Raising Steaks at his blog, Gulliver’s Nest, that was written for the June issue of Radcliffe Culinary Times. Here’s the intro:
When I began my graduate research on cattle ranching in Texas, I thought it amusing that most ranchers I spoke with talked a blue streak about their desire for independence and self-reliance, yet they all dressed, drove, and drank the same. Meanwhile, they eyed those few among them who challenged conventional ranching methods with deep suspicion.
Betty Fussell examines the same dynamic in her wonderful, sprawling Raising Steak, an investigation into the economics, culture, and gastronomy of American beef. How can a good steak symbolize rugged cowboy individualism when its producers are terribly afraid of sticking out from the herd?
The conundrum troubles few people, if the exploding popularity of steakhouses is any guide. Fussell gets right at steak’s raw patriotic appeal, writing, with typical strength and directness, “Real American men, women and children eat steak because it’s red with blood, blood that pumps flavor, iron, vitality, and sex into flaccid bodies. For women, steak is better than spinach. For men, it’s better than Viagra. With steak, it’s easy to get carried away.” I’ll say!
Plus: Looking at the numerous articles, books and even films released recently that take a closer look at industrial food production and the treatment of animals, Sarah Earle of the Concord Monitor questions our relationship to the food we eat. Raising Steaks, she writes, “joins a stampede of such literature barreling through the stockades that have separated the average American from his lunch since the dawn of the industrial farm.”