“Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms,” by Nicolette Hahn Niman, should be on the must-read list of anyone who cares about a sustainable food supply.

This well-written memoir tells the personal story of the author’s own initiation to the disturbing practices of hog factory farms as an attorney working with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ; her introduction to “traditional” farmers and ranchers using environmentally sound practices; and about her own transition from lawyer to environmental activist and to the life she lives with husband Bill Niman on their ranch in Bolinas, California.

I could not put this book down.  Just when a question was forming in my mind, Nicolette answered it clearly and plainly.  Unfortunately, most of this country’s meat, poultry and dairy products come from an industrial system that fails with respect to the environment, public health, animal welfare, and flavor.  We all have a responsibility to make informed food purchasing decisions and this book goes a long way to provide both the background on our food system and practical alternatives.

Perhaps the most useful section of this fantastic book is on how to find sustainably produced foods.  Nicolette shares a framework for making her own purchasing decisions, how she gets information about where her food comes from and how it was raised or produced, where to find foods, and how to make decisions when dining out.

I am privileged to know Nicolette Hahn Niman because she serves on the Board of Chefs Collaborative.  She is tremendously knowledgeable about the animal confinement industry and alternatives.

I encourage anyone intersted in fostering a more sustainable food supply, how their food tastes, a healthy environment, and humane treatment of animals to read this book!

Read on for further commentary:

“Finally, a book that can help everyday Americans understand what’s at stake as a result of our factory animal systems.  A great, common sense and steady read.”
–Michel Nischan, chef, Dressing Room; president, Wholesome Wave Foundation

“A searing, and utterly convincing, indictment of modern meat production.  But the book brims with hope, too, and charts a practical (and even beautiful) path out of the jungle.”
–Michael Pollan, author, Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food

Melissa Kogut, Executive Director, Chefs Collaborative