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Eating Animals

July 5, 2011

I finished reading Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer over the weekend. It is one of the most influential books I have ever read: ever so thoughtful, powerful, philosophical, informative and emotional. Above the factual information he provides from National statistics and first hand reports from inside factory farms, here is what resonated with me most:

“Feeding my child is not like feeding myself: it matters more. It matters because food matters (his physical health matters, the pleasure of eating matters), and because the stories that are served with food matter. These stories bind our family together, and bind our family to others. Stories about food are stories about us – our history and our values.” (Page 11)

What Foer does that is extraordinary is separate history, family and love from taste and the cruel realities of today’s factory farm. I love bacon, it makes everything taste that much better, it is celebratory…the smell alone brings me home to the kitchen where I grew up or my apartment on a lazy morning with my husband and my dog. The taste of bacon conjures feelings of warm, happiness and safety. On the contrary, the description of the methods of how that bacon came to be could not be more polar opposite. “Why is taste, the crudest of our senses, exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other senses?” (Page 93) In this country we have the luxury of buying commodities without knowing their back-story. If you knew what the brief lifespan of a factory farmed pig entailed before it became packaged products in the grocery store, I bet you wouldn’t eat it anymore. Or at least you would have an opinion about what brands of bacon you wanted to buy and eat.

“Deciding what to eat is the founding act of production and consumption that shapes all others. Choosing leaf or flesh, factory farm or family farm, does not in itself change the world, but teaching ourselves, our children, our local communities and our nation to chose conscience over ease can”. (Page 258)

Similar to the “out of site out of mind” concept that I discuss on my website, we need to be responsible for the choices we make and our actions. Turning a blind eye to what we put in our bodies and how those items are produced may save us time in the present moment, but it can be detrimental to our future. Eating Animals is an important piece of literature that I recommend to everyone.

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