A friend read Eating Animals a while ago, then Joanie read it, then I read it. Eating Animals provoked a stronger reaction from me than any book has for a while. By Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals billed as a book about a new father’s attempt to find out where the meat we eat comes from and attempt to discover if it is healthy for his young son. The problem is that he seems to have decided, from page one, that it’s not, and the book comes across, at least to me, as an attempt to justify the author’s own vegetarian lifestyle and an attempt to convert the me, the reader, into a vegetarian. Mr. Foer paints a damning picture of the way we produce our meat, and while it may be a biased view, (or may not, I’m not familiar enough with the industry to know), it is eye-opening and made me stop and ask a lot of questions about my diet.
I believe that we’re meant to eat meat. If we weren’t we would have teeth like a cow or squirrel or something. I’m not about to stop eating meat. The problem is that we produce most of our meat in high-density farming operations, places where animals rarely, if ever, see the light of day, (especially pork and chicken), and may be so tightly confined that they don’t have room to turn around, (that way they can’t really exercise, so more food becomes fat, they reach their target weight sooner, and are slaughtered and sold sooner – genius, but not so pleasant for the animal). Raising animals this way causes a bunch of problems, from unhealthy animals, (would you be healthy if you didn’t have space to move? Not even to go from the bed to the TV to the washroom?), to what to do with the poo that gets created. I’m not going to get into them all here – if you want to know you should read the book, or rent the movie Food, Inc, or read one of the many other books about the modern food system, but what it comes down to is that we’re abusing animals so that we can eat them cheaply, and because of that abuse we’re eating a product that is of a much lower quality than I would like to eat. While we’re at it we’re creating a ton of pollution, (poo), that if spread around may not be a problem, but is so concentrated in certain areas that it wreaks havoc on air and water quality, which in turn affects other natural systems, (like fish in rivers, or people breathing).
Eating Animals made me angry. I thought I was angry at the author, but now I think I’m angry at the food system we’ve created. In 2012 I should be able to go to the store and buy a steak, or hamburger, or ham, that is of better quality than I was able to in 1900, but that’s not the case. The store has changed, probably for the better, but the animal has changed for the worse. We’ve had incredible advances in technology that allow us to make more food, but it seems that we’re sacrificing quality for quantity. There’s a limit to how much I can eat, I don’t need more. I’m trying to find a supply of good, well-raised, happy meat. Hopefully I can.