Project Description

Cover for the book, The Cow with the Ear Tag #1389. Features a close up of a cow's face.

Cow with the Ear Tag #1389

Author: Kathryn Gillespie · Subject: Animals


The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 is the journey from a living cow to a glass of milk into tangible terms. Kathryn Gillespie set out to follow the moments in the life cycles of individual animals—animals like the cow with ear tag #1389.

She explores how the seemingly benign 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 become food.

The result is an empathetic look at cows and our relationship with them, one that makes both their lives and their suffering real.

About the Author

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


“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 a 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

“What price a glass of milk? In this trenchant examination of the dairy industry, animal-studies researcher Kathryn Gillespie investigates its workings, wastefulness, and impacts on the environment. .Gillespie’s central focus, however, is the effect on the cows, bulls, and calves involved, before their inevitable slaughter. Her careful field research in auction yards and slaughterhouses shows how the commodification of animals too often leads to severe, and disturbing, health and welfare issues.” – Nature

“How to help in a system that prizes profit over compassion is one of the main concerns in the book. .We Americans have decided that some animals— .g., cats, dogs, hamsters, parrots—are companions and that others—e.g., cows, pigs, goats, lobsters—are dinner. We argue over the ethics of those choices, but Gillespie raises a more fundamental question: What do we owe any animal, including the ones from which we take milk? Her answer as implied in The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 is that we should not make them suffer.” – Washington Independent Review of Books


Cover for the book, The Cow with the Ear Tag #1389. Features a close up of a cow's face.

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