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The Cow with Ear Tag #1389

By: Kathryn Gillespie(Author)
272 pages, 4 b/w photos, 5 b/w illustrations
The Cow with Ear Tag #1389
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  • The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 ISBN: 9780226582856 Paperback Oct 2018 Out of stock with supplier: order now to get this when available
  • The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 ISBN: 9780226582719 Hardback Oct 2018 Out of Print #243764
Selected version: £21.00
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Take a look at the packaging on a container of milk and you're likely to see bucolic idylls of red barns, green pastures, and happy, well-treated cows. In truth, the distance from a living cow to a glass of milk is vast, and nearly impossible to grasp in a way that resonates with an average person ticking items off a grocery list. To translate this journey into tangible terms, Kathryn Gillespie had a brilliant idea: to follow the moments in the life cycles of individual animals – animals like the cow with ear tag #1389. In contrast to the widely known truths of commercial meat manufacture, the dairy industry enjoys a relatively benign reputation, with most consumers unaware of this kitchen staple's backstory.

The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 explores how the seemingly nonthreatening practice of raising animals for milk is just one link in a chain that affects livestock across the agricultural spectrum. Gillespie takes readers to farms, auction yards, slaughterhouses, and even rendering plants to show how living cows are transformed into food. The result is an empathetic look at cows and our relationship with them, one that makes both their lives and their suffering real – in particular, the fleeting encounter with the cow of the title, just one animal whose story galvanized Gillespie to write this book. The myriad ways that the commercial meat industry causes harm are at the forefront of numerous discussions today. The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 adds a crucial piece to these conversations by asking us to consider the individual animals whose lives we may take for granted.


One. Sadie
Two. The Politics of Research
Three. The Smell of Money
Four. Life for Sale
Five. The Cow with Ear Tag #1389
Six. Seeking Sanctuary
Seven. Doublethinking Dairy
Eight. “The Stamp of Dairyness”
Nine. California Dreaming
Ten. On Knowing and Responding


Customer Reviews


Kathryn Gillespie is coeditor of Critical Animal Geographies and Economies of Death.

By: Kathryn Gillespie(Author)
272 pages, 4 b/w photos, 5 b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"Positioning her work among such investigative classics as Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, Gillespie uses scholarly methods to bring to light the often hidden side of what it takes to produce such foods as cheese and ice cream [...] Interviews with dairy farmers and 4-H participants give fascinating insight into the emotional toll sometimes exacted on humans [...] Gillespie also vividly describes the deleterious effects of long-term dairy production on the animals themselves, as demonstrated by the titular cow [...] She succeeds in ensuring her readers will never look at a glass of milk in quite the same way again."
Publishers Weekly

"We have been waiting for a book like this. Gillespie grapples with how the dairy industry uses cows as well as the challenge of researching that very thing. Her writing is pitch perfect, richly detailed, and riveting. The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 vividly demonstrates the transformative power of scholarship to bear witness."
– Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat

"In a gripping narrative, Gillespie weaves together an informative discussion of the complexities of the dairy industry with heart-wrenching reflections on the impact of this commodification process on animals. She reveals alternative relationships of care that can help us look more closely, see better, and hopefully work toward changing ourselves and other animals."
– Lori Gruen, author of Entangled Empathy

"Simultaneously engaging, provocative, rigorous, and heartfelt, The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 demystifies the doublethink that dazes decent people into complicity with callous cruelty. Let Gillespie be your tour guide to the dairy farm, state fair, and petting zoo, and you might find yourself exploring the backroads of your own mind."
– Pattrice Jones, author of The Oxen at the Intersection

"Gillespie's stories and writing bring this book to life. We can feel the cows breathe and smell the grass as she unlocks the intricate relationship we have with these gentle animals. Her ability to explain complex issues in simple terms makes this an important read – especially for those who want to help foster compassion and understanding."
– Lauren Ornelas, founder and executive director of Food Empowerment Project

"The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 addresses a critical issue whose time for discussion has not only come but is in fact long overdue. Gillespie deftly excavates and narrates the singular moments of the dairy animals she encounters, and a very real story of the personalized cows emerges."
– Yamini Narayanan, Deakin University

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