My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
This one had been on my radar for a while. This was like reading Super Size Me. I understand the principles as towards why meat is dangerous and what slaughterhouses are doing with hormones and such. But it’s weird to have propaganda shaped into a compelling and poetic story. And then have the story kind of mashed up with very soap opera-y bits. That’s one fucked meatball.
This story is kind of autobiographical, I assume, and it takes place in the early nineties. A half-Japanese/half-American documentary filmmaker gets a job creating a television show called My American Wife! Which is essentially meant to propaganda for BEEF-EX, the conglomerate responsible for selling and exporting American beef to Japanese housewives. The idea is to find idyllic families and show them preparing a delicious meat dish and then using that to encourage housewives in Japan to make the dishes.
The story itself pans out over a full year, with the documentarian getting more and more rebellious with her broadcasts and unearthing more and more horrors about illicit hormone usages and the dangers of the meat industry. It’s kind of like Atlas Shrugged, only if instead of trying to pitch Objectivism, it was anti-red meat. The story unfolds a little TOO perfectly, and a little TOO on the nose about the process.
I mean, it’s not bad. And it’s startling. Like the levels of danger that Morgan Spurlock undergoes when consuming that much McDonalds. No shit McD’s is bad for you. But holy fuck how bad. Well, red meat is made under some fucked conditions. And the meat processors use some really dangerous hormones and processes. And the deleterious effects are pretty goddamn harrowing.
But there’s more to the story. It’s also a female empowerment tale, about freeing yourself from dangerous relationships, and what pregnancy means, and what love means, and how families are built. It felt sloppy to me. Like a bad overwrought play where the lead is called Jane Everywomyn. And yet, I really enjoyed it? It’s like, I know this is fucking stupid and on the nose, but since I agree with it, I can deal?
Anyway, if you don’t to eat red meat for a while, I highly recommend this.