Not on the Label | Book Review

Updated: Jan 9

'Challenges each and every one of us to think again about what we buy and eat. It's almost like uncovering a secret state within the state.'

An image of the front cover of the book Not On The Label - a compilation of undercover investigation into the nefarious food producing practices.

Not on the Label

is a compilation of undercover investigation into the nefarious food producing practices. In this fascinating and superbly written book, Lawrence delivers a shocking eye-opener as she exposes everything from the liberal use of chemical preservatives, to the sale of disease-ridden meat, to the exploitation of illegal immigrant workers.

This is one of those rare books that shock and disturb with the turn of each page, making it quite the challenge to identify one topic on which to focus a review.

But perhaps the most gut-wrenching reveal was the industrialisation of animal mass-murder and how corporations treat sentient creatures with complex nervous systems not too dissimilar to our own like inert unfeeling commodities.

For example, in the chapter Horse, we learn of the sickening animal abuse practices of one ‘horse dealer’ (one among many) who illegally transported ‘unfit horses and donkeys’ many of which ‘were seriously ill with chest infections, wounds, sepsis and diarrhoea,’ (p.23). These miserable animals, true beasts of burden, would later be slaughtered and sold in ready-meals – and, as we were witness to in the Tesco scandal, some of these ‘old nags had been passed off as beef.’

The plight of the broiler chicken

If the Buddhists are right and, after kicking the bucket, we are reincarnated as another lifeform, I hope to god I don’t come back as a broiler chicken. Hell, I’d rather come back as a male praying mantis; and that’s saying something considering they have their heads gnawed off during copulation!

But is the life of a chicken really so bad? And as bad as that of a male mantis?

No, not if you believe the commercial propaganda depicting pleasant images of happy little chickens foraging through the boundless countryside, pecking and scratching for grubs. The truth is, if you’re a broiler chicken reared for mass consumption, life is no less awful than it was for the poor victims of Auschwitz. In fact, in many ways chickens have it much worse: for them, after months of unimaginable deprivation, the final insult is that of being reincarnated as a ‘chicken’ nugget.

An image showing chickens as chicken nuggets to support the article title Not on The Label.

Here’s Lawrence’s commentary on her experience as an undercover worker in a slaughterhouse: