Out of all the books that deals with food, this is the must have book to read I have been trying to find some chapters or segments that I can use to teach to my class about animal rights, food politics, and the environmental concerns dealing with food I was expecting to only find a chapter or perhaps a segment to use To my surprise, the whole book is worthy to be taught in class.Peter Singer is well known in philosophical circles as an ethicist and utilitarian He has written many books about animal welfare and the farming industry What I like about this book is that you don t have to be a philosopher to understand the principles behind this book Indeed, this book was written for the common person What I also like about the author s is that they are intellectually honest about their results They aren t coming from any perspective and try to defend it any way they can They look at the results and determine this is the most ethical thing to do in this situation So there are times where eating local is actually harmful, and there are some fish in Wal Mart that s actually better than buying it wild.The book takes you on a journey through three families Each of these families has a different philosophy of eating food In order, the book starts from 1 the conventional American diet, 2 the conscientious omnivore, and 3 , the vegan lifestyle I ll go in that order and display any interesting tidbits of information along the way The book follows a simple formula where we explore a family s eating habits and then the author s trace the food to the original source So if a family bought Tyson Chicken, the author s find out where this chicken is produced, how it s slaughtered, how it s raised There were even moments where the author worked on a turkey insemination farm for a day.The Conventional American DietWhere does the typical family do their grocery shopping Usually, it s Wal Mart Singer and Mason tag along with a family to Wal Mart to see what this family buys What do they buy Oscar Meyer bacon, Tyson chicken, eggs, Gortan s fish The Chicken The authors bring up some interesting tidbits about chickens With Tyson chicken, it s a factory farm While visiting the farm, they mention that the chickens are cooped up in a cage that s barely enough space for their body mass Imagine being in an airplane bathroom for 24 hours a day Chickens naturally peck at the ground, but because there is no ground, they can t peck which causes them stress Thus, they peck at other birds This can t happen, so their beaks get cut off The workers barely get paid It s one of the biggest turnover rates at Tyson chicken Eggs The label Animal Certified Care doesn t mean much It s the same as above with the chickens The label was just a way for people to buy the eggs if they thought the eggs were cared for But it s a misnomer Pork Pigs are actually intelligent creatures The sows, however, can t move around because they re in crates for their whole lives As soon as they give birth, they are impregnated again Their whole lives are basically pregnancy after pregnancy Inside, pigs spend their lives in small concrete and steel pens They can t turn around, roll, root or exercise The stench from their excrement is so sharp that people wear masks, while the pigs suffer damaged lungs and eyes Beef and Milk Cows are given steroids to bulk them up for bigger beef With milk, you have to impregnate the cows because they can t have milk unless they give birth As soon as the cows give birth, the calves are basically discarded After all, economically speaking, you don t need the calf unless you re going to use it to sell veal , you just need the mother for the milk McDonald s McDonald s has been getting a lot of flack lately because of their high fatty foods Over time however, the authors do contend that they are striving to get better with their environmental impact Wal Mart The employees live off of almost minimum wage They can t form unions and advancement in the company is so bureaucratic that it feels like being a peasant in a corporate world.Again, it s the idea of these factory farms that evades our knowledge Singer and Mason believe we tolerate the sins of industrialized food production because these practices aren t known to the public As Pollan puts it Much of our food system depends on our not knowing much about it Note I could talk about these chapters, but to be honest, I remember the end of the book vividly So if I give a bigger review about the vegan lifestyle, it s not because I m short shifting the conventional American diet or propounding the vegan diet It s basically because, like all books, you remember the ending better The Conscientious OmnivoresIn a previous blog, I stated that I was a demi vegetarian However, after reading this part, this applies to me effectively Thus, I may go back and change my position from demi vegetarian to Conscientious Omnivore It s the same procedure again The authors find a family and go shopping with them Where do they shop The family goes to a Trader Joe s This is what the family buys Niman Ranch Bacon This bacon comes from pork that is raised in humane ways No crates, no stress The sows can take their time and they can actually build their own bedding if they want Singer and Mason visit an organic pig farm, revealing that pigs are sentient and delightful, at least as intelligent as domestic pets So the pigs are treated humanely However, feedlots to feed animals thrive on corn But the corn for feedlots requires chemical fertilizers In other words, oil Based on this, how much oil does it cost to feed a 534 lb to a 1250 lb steer 284 gallons of oil just to fatten the steer To know about it, check this out youtube Certified Humane Eggs I was actually surprised by this chapter The chickens are raised a little bit better than on a factory farm, but according to the authors, the floor was just a sea of brown hens, so crowded that the shed floor was visible only down the center of the shed They sometimes practice debeaking the hens if it gets to the point where they get stressed But if they are raised humanely, why are they still stressed, I thought Nevertheless, the eggs are laid in nesting boxes The hens are fed organic grains which makes them considered organic But the certified humane is what really surprised me The hens aren t in their own personal cages, they were free to roam in the barn But the authors were disturbed by the fact that there were so many of them in a single shed, effectively unable to go outside, and certainly never able to enjoy scratching around in grass, or to be part of a normal size flock in which they get to know each other as individuals Detailing the cruelty in factory chicken farms, the authors conclude that organic or free range poultry products are the only ethical choice Seafood Fish is depleting heavily around the world Interestingly, however, the authors showed that buying the Gorton s Fish Fillets from Wal Mart is actually environmentally better than buying it wild It s mainly because the fish is Pollock Thus, Horizon seafood Horizon is known for selling organic foods is worse than Gorton s Fish Crab imported from other countries are the worst, thus it should be avoided For farmed salmon, about five liters of diesel fuel is used to catch about one kilogram of salmon Indeed, since salmon is the most popular, it causes the most amount of pollution Shrimp, as well, is the seafood that causes the worst environmental hazards Overall, the authors recommend to avoid shrimp unless it s from Canada Fruits Ask yourself this Isn t there something weird about buying apples from China when you can easily get it from Iowa You would assume that eating local food would be better However, the authors want to show that usually that is the case, but not always If you re buying a local tomato especially in the winter , then that farmer needs fuel to make the tomato The authors calculate how much fuel is used compared to buying a tomato somewhere else in the country and then shipping it here It s actually better, environmentally speaking, to buy a tomato in Florida than it is to buy it locally unless to tomato is in season With rice, it requires a lot of energy to grow it Indeed, you would save energy by buying rice from Bangladesh, rather than buying it form San Fransisco A better policy would be to buy locally and in season Fairtrade Fairtrade is becoming popular and the idea behind it is to help out the farmers instead of the corporation Chiquita bananas is better than Dole, for example The farmers who don t have fairtrade usually make about 7500 a year Eating Out Where could the conscientious omnivore go out to eat Chipotle seems to be the best option Too bad there s none in Utah I had some in Texas It s actually pretty good Whole Foods Market Of course, this is the market for these types of eaters.The VegansThese folks eat purely organic stuff and they don t use anything that deals with animals products With this family, it s because they still see it as part of the system Organic food contains less pesticides, it keeps the quality of the soil better without relying of fossil fuels for synthetic fertilizer Of course, it s expensive, but in the long haul, it s actually not The manure from the factory farms spills off into the streams which makes the people unhealthy The air becomes so strong that it can actually ruin your lungs and the animals are living in it Combined with other things, you ll have to go to the doctor eventually But with health care, the taxpayers will have to cover some of it Milk A problem is that you ll need cows to make milk But this also means that it produces methane Thus, just nip it in the bud and stop drinking milk Vegans usually drink soy milk or rice milk Indeed, the cows at Horizon are still crowded in pens and a dry landscape What does this mean Organic just simply means you were fed organic things It doesn t mean that you were treated humanely The authors conclude to avoid Horizon and go for Organic Valley, which is nice considering that I don t buy from Horizon anyways from luck GMO Genetically Modified Foods This is to be avoided because it s seen as unnatural.Are Vegans missing something in their diet Vitamin B12 is the main culprit With protein, they actually get plenty of it from nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils It seems odd that we re feeding 21 lbs of grains just to produce one lb of beef It takes 1,584 gallons of water to produce beef However, the authors do contend that eating chips actually uses up water Beef, however, is the meat that requires the most amount of water.In the end, the authors present these three families and let you judge their own conclusions However, the authors do want at least one thing It s as if they re saying, If you can t go vegan, try becoming a conscientious omnivore at the very least The reason is because factory farms are simply unethical They present arguments that factory farming is completely wasteful and immoral To see why, go here It s not gross, I promise The ending is mostly philosophy, but it s presented with readable ease.FreegansIf you don t know what freegans are, go here I didn t know this lifestyle was politically motivated Basically, you go through dumpsters searching for food The philosophical idea is to get away from the industry altogether If you re not buying food, then you re not supporting it They avoid spending their money to those who exploit animals But once something is thrown out, it makes no difference to the producer If you oppose the abuse of animals, but still like eating meat, cheese, or eggs, get it from a dumpster When the authors talked to these individuals, two of them were in college Neither one uses their money to buy food because they can easily get it from a dumpster Indeed, the authors point to studies that 40% of the food that s thrown away could ve been safely consumed.In the end, one could reply that eating the conventional diet is cheaper In actuality, it doesn t fare out Because the manure slides to the rivers, taxpayers dollars are spent cleaning up environmental damage, building infrastructure, and subsidising fodder production itself unsustainable It s actually costly to be on the Conventional American Diet Even economists agree Cheap, industrial agriculture is false economy Economists even those who are loudest in extolling the virtues of the free market agree that the existence of such externalities is a sign of market failure Unless you pay the real price of production with local certified organic in which case the pig has roamed, was not fed antibiotics or hormones and had limited transport , eating pork products is ethically and economically indefensible.Singer has written books about the suffering of animals, and while he does mention that briefly, the authors aren t focused on that Instead, they want to point out the environmental and economic aspects as well It s as if to say, You re eating this particular diet, well look how your eating habits are affecting the environment, animals, or the economy They drive home the consequences of what we eat We don t pay attention to that, and Singer and Mason point out that these are issues to think about, but precisely, these are issues that we should think about.I will finish with these last words If you eat food whether it s conventional American diet, a consciousntious omnivore, a vegetarian, or a vegan you owe it to yourself to read this book A balanced exploration of how what we eat matters regarding the health of our planet and for animal welfare Peter Singer has long been an ethicist I ve admired and enjoyed reading his works This book looks at the diet of three American families real people who are profiled as case studies The authors go to the grocery store with each family, and then trace everything in their cart and explain where each of those food items comes from Factory farming is discussed , organic farming is discussed, and the views of other well known food gurus such as Michael Pollan are reviewed Intensive pig farming and dairy farming was something I knew little about although intensive chicken operations and cattle feed lots I do know a lot about I ve even been into and seen a chicken operation in West Virginia, and it s not something you forget seeing.Labels how do they work And when do they fool you.The book looks at various myths such as we must have factory farms to feed the whole planet that s an idea I thought was true Vegans are not as healthy as people who eat meat It s always best to buy local, well sometimes that is not the best for everyone, and even for our planet a great comparative look at the times when you are helping to buy Fair Trade.I found much to ponder in this book about my own food choices And, what we choose to consume, where we choose to put our dollars, does matter I m not sure I would have liked this book so much if I wasn t already mostly converted On the other hand, if I had read it during my still omnivorous years it may well have been the kick in the pants that I needed to actually make a change, much earlier than I actually did.Far from taking a hardline approach and condemning all non vegans out of hand, the authors take a compassionate look at the food choices made by three different families, and from that launch a discussion of the impact that those choices have on the wider world The descriptions of factory farming and its effects pull no punches, but at the same time the downsides of neo hippie favourites like organic farming and buying local are examined unflinchingly.Realistic and uncompromising, without devolving into alienating rhetoric Definitely worth a read for anyone who is questioning their own food choices or anyone who isn t. Only read this book if you are ready to change the way you eat Because once you read it you cannot go back to the way things were before The authors explain what it is your actually eating and how it is produced Once you know all the details it changes everything, especially about meat and dairy It s easy to be ignorant, as we lead busy lives and the media represents everything so nicely It s always the big companies that have the best ads and are the cheapest so we buy their products the most, but in reality they are the companies that are the WORST.I do recommend everybody to read this Especially parents as what we are actually putting into our and our childrens bodies is not only bad for us but truely stems from Evil and Greed.The authors are quite graphic in some chapters, describing every factual detail that happens behind these factory walls and I could not read some of it I was crying and felt sick to my stomach And I used to buy these products, which means that I was supporting them with my dollar Not any I have researched ethical Dairy farmers that treat their cattle humanly and I have cut out meat Yes I spend on food now, but it s really not that much considering that we have no problems spending over 10 dollars on a drink when we go out or spending over 100 dollars on clothes I feel so much better now knowing what I m putting into my body is ethical and humane and did not cost the earth. This is a very easy read that outlines the ethics of our food choices, from the standard American diet, to veganism, all the way to dumpster diving The book is a little dated, and I m sure some things have changed since its publication, but most of the information is still very relevant to the current conditions of factory farming Singer Mason bring up very unbiased points from all sides of the story I specifically liked their view on how imported produce can be ethical than local produce I personally feel like everyone should read this book. Worth a read recommendation for anyone curious about the ethical implications of their eating habits, but doesn t want to be condemned for sometimes choosing convenience over ethical considerations If you ve already decided being vegan isn t for you, then at the very least, this book will debunk some common labeling misconceptions as well as assist you in opting out of factory farmed meat and fish that has been caught in a completely unsustainable manner.There s also an interesting look into whether or not eating locally is an ethical decision, and it s far complicated than I had realized. In his recent work, The Ethics of What We Eat March 2007 , Singer and farmer Jim Mason investigate the shopping choices of three families with diets exemplary of our current culture Standard American Diet SAD , Organic, and vegan The Hiller Neirstheimer family lives in Mabelville, Arkansas, shops at Wal Mart and eats the SAD They choose their groceries based on convenience and cost, and are unaware of ethical values concerning food The Masarech Motavalli family lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, they are environmentally conscious, and they eat organic food whenever possible However, due to busy lifestyles, they also base many of their shopping decisions on convenience And in Othale, Kansas, the Farb family, a vegan household, buys organic, and to a large extent has a lifestyle to match their ethical views The authors follow the families to the grocery store, partake in a meal, and question each family s choices Each family s purchases are then weighed alongside the interests of all those involved in the food s production We are all at least marginally aware of the atrocities of factory farming and food production Although the authors include their fair share of horror stories, the significance of the work is the focus on critique, not exposure to these ethical problems.Full review I knew going into this book that I wasn t likely to get an objective, unbiased view of the food system from the author of Animal Liberation but I tried to keep an open mind Most of the book is really well done informative, factual, thought provoking, and well researched I read this shortly after reading The Omnivore s Dilemma so a lot of the information was familiar to me, but I appreciated the reinforcement of ideas I ve already read about.My biggest problem with this book is that Singer and Mason seem to feel that there is one set of universal, acceptable ethical principles by which people s choices should be guided I do agree with most of their conclusions, but not all, and I kind of resent being told that there s an obvious ethical answer to a dilemma when I ve reached a different conclusion I also grew tired of coming across the occasional biased, non objective comment here and there.The book was also heavily focused on the ethics of eating meat, with far less attention paid to other ethical topics concerning the production of food in general.Those minor complaints aside, it is a good read if you re interested in the food industry, particularly the meat industry. Peter Singer, The Groundbreaking Ethicist Whom The New Yorker Calls The Most Influential Philosopher Alive Teams Up Again With Jim Mason, His Coauthor On The Acclaimed Animal Factories, To Set Their Critical Sights On The Food We Buy And Eat Where It Comes From, How It Is Produced, And Whether It Was Raised HumanelyThe Ethics Of What We Eat Explores The Impact Our Food Choices Have On Humans, Animals, And The Environment Recognizing That Not All Of Us Will Become Vegetarians, Singer And Mason Offer Ways To Make Healthful, Humane Food Choices As They Point Out You Can Be Ethical Without Being Fanatical really informative and interesting This book convicted Jeff almost into vegegarianism I suppose for me it is just making me think a lot about paying money for lest crualty and waste Even if you aren t a greenie hippy you should read this If nothing else we should all know what it takes for our easy and cheap foods.
Animal Liberation, widely regarded as the touchstone of the animal liberation movement Not all members of the animal liberation movement share this view, and Singer himself has said the media overstates his status His views on that and other issues in bioethics have attracted attention and a degree of controversy Excerpted from
- 336 pages
- The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter
- Peter Singer
- 08 February 2019 Peter Singer