The beginning of this book was so great and I loved how seemingly unrelated it was to the subject. It was so story like I was a little disappointed when it actually got into the content. I was really quite excited to read this book, but after the first couple of chapters I didn’t find that there was information that was really all that new. I did really like the first hand accounts from C and the Turkey farmer. I think that things like that go a long way in showing people that there is more wrong with how our meat is obtained than what a stereotypical vegetarian might point out. I wish there had been more on the benefits of giving up meat than on why it is so bad for you to eat it. I think that this is a large problem in the dialogue about this issue. In almost all of the books I have read about why we shouldn’t eat meat, the emphasis is always on how bad it is in some form or another, but the benefits are usually just a quick section squeezed in somewhere. I like that he gave as much attention as he did to poultry. It’s odd how even if you are a small scale farmer, your options for birds is influenced by factory farming. You can have a chicken coop out back with plenty of space and clean fresh air, but if it’s broilers you keep then they are so genetically messed up that they won’t even really benefit from it. My aunt and uncle, who raise their own chickens for both meat and eggs buy broilers for the meat part and heritage breeds for the layers. After getting their first batch of broilers my aunt searched hard for a long time to try to find information about how to make their lives easier and it just doesn’t exist. There isn’t anything about steps you can take to improve their short lives even outside of being in a factory farm. The problem is how the birds have been engineered and the only thing you can really do to fix it is to stop breeding them.
Although he is obviously trying to be objective I think that Foer plays a lot on emotion, but I’m not really sure if they’re the ones that would be the most effective. I do agree though with his statement that even those who eat meat know that how the animals are raised is unpleasant to the point that they don’t want to think about it. It’s like they want to completely disassociate in their minds that meat is the result of something dying. My mom for example will can be eating a hamburger, turn to Animal Planet, and then have to turn to something else right away because she doesn’t want to watch the little antelope get eaten by the lion. When you point out to her that she is eating an animal that didn’t even get the chance to run away she just acts like there is nothing she could do about it and keeps going. Vegetarians are often cast off as being wimps or softies that can’t handle reality. I think in most cases it’s actually the reverse. The vegetarians I know are the people that are most grounded in the reality of where meat comes from and what it is. Not only do they know about it, but they have really let it sink in and have accepted the truth of it. It’s usually the meat eaters that refuse to see meat as more than a celophane wrapped package.
I think one of the saddest things about the meat industry (and ag business in general) is how influential it is in politics. As mentioned in the book it’s hard to know what is healthy and what is not because those giving us the reports have such a conflict of interest that what is suggested simply can’t be trusted. Just as the industry only needs to keep its “product” as healthy as necessary to keep it alive until slaughter, so it only needs its human consumsers to stay alive long enough to eat enough food that profit is made until the younger generation can start purchasing.