peter lovenheimpeter lovenheimpeter lovenheim

Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf:
The Story of One Man, Two Cows, and
the Feeding of a Nation

2013 eBook Edition with New Preface

Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf:  The Story of One Man, Two Cows, and the Feeding of a Nation

When Peter Lovenheim stood in line at McDonald's to buy a Happy Meal for his daughter, which would come with a Teenie Beanie Baby—either a cow named "Daisy" or a bull named "Snort," he found it strange that young children would be expected to play with cuddly toy cows one minute and eat the grilled remains of real ones the next. Lovenheim suddenly saw the disconnect between what we eat and our knowledge of where our food comes from. Determined to understand the process by which living animals become food, Lovenheim bought two calves from the dairy farm where they were born and asked permission to spend as much time as necessary hanging around and observing everything that happened in their lives.

Portrait of a Burger is the true story of Lovenheim's hands-on journey into the dairy and beef industries as he follows his calves from "conception to consumption." In the process, he gets to know the hard-working people who raise our cattle and make milk products and beef. He supplies us with a "fly on the wall" view of the animals we use to put food on America's tables.

Barnes & Noble

Random House/Harmony Books hardcover, 2002, ISBN: 978-0609605912
Three Rivers Press paperback, 2003, ISBN: 978-0609805442
Japanese edition: Kyobunsha Co, 2004


"Great tension...drives the book almost from its very beginning...[with] a surprising ending for you to discover... Few writers have worked so hard for this view of an animal's life... Lyrical... informative... sweet... an important work."
   —New York Times Book Review

"A thorough, evenhanded view of...the enormous infrastructure that feeds America...So fair-minded, [the book] might actually appeal to both sides in the contentious meat-eating debate."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"...a remarkably fair but by no means unemotional look at the animals we exploit and the people who tend them."
   —Washington Post Book World

Selected one of ten best adult books for young adults, 2002. "In a compelling personal narrative that follows his farm animals from birth to death, journalist Lovenheim brings home the story of the milk and the beef we eat, and he does it by honoring the cattle and the people whose labor and lives feed a nation and a world."
   —Booklist (American Library Association) Editor's Choice

back to top

author bio