My Year of Meats

Cross-cultural tale of two women brought together by the intersections of television and industrial agriculture, fertility and motherhood, life and love by Ruth Ozeki

My Year of Meats, by @ozekiland, on Flickr
The use of DES in cattle feed, and the effects of DES on people exposed to DES in the food industry.

When documentary maker Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job producing a Japanese television show that just happens to be sponsored by an American meat-exporting business, she uncovers some unsavoury truths about love, fertility, and a dangerous hormone called Diethylstilbestrol (DES). Soon she will also cross paths with Akiko Ueno, a beleaguered Japanese housewife struggling to escape her overbearing husband. And the battle with ‘big beef’ will be on in earnest.

DES is incorporated into the plot, but appears more centrally at the novel’s end than at its beginning. My Year of Meats follows a bi-racial filmmaker named Jane as she makes a series of episodes for Japanese television about how American women prepare beef – Jane’s work is paid for and sponsored by BEEF-EX, a US-based meat lobby seeking to expand its market in Japan. Jane films a series of US families, each of them making a beef-based dinner. Along the way, Jane – who is a DES daughter – investigates the beef industry in the US, the use of DES in cattle feed, and the effects of DES on people exposed to DES in the food industry and agribusiness as well as in medicine.

Ruth Ozeki‘s much-loved debut novel, winner of the Kirayama Prize for Literature of the Pacific Rim, represents the entertaining face of ecological activism. My Year of Meats will delight fans of Michael Pollan, Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver. Find it on Amazon – on GoodReads.

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