Reading Notes: ‘Eating Animals’, Foer
– (pg. 5) ‘Food for her is not food. It is terror, dignity, gratitude, vengeance, joyfulness, humiliation, religion, history, and, of course, love.’
My grandfather passed away this past summer at the age of 94. He was an excellent cook. In WWII he was a mess hall sergeant in charge of feeding companies of men. Growing up having dinners at his home was an event. If you happened to be there for more than 4 hours you were probably going to eat three or four times and saying no was simply not acceptable. It was the way in which they expressed love and care. Nothing went wasted, and both of my grandparents would take their time with their meals around the table, always taking time to talk and revel in what had been placed on the table. I can relate to some of the sentiment for which Foer expresses here. Frank, my grandpa grew up during the Great Depression, and like I said fought in Paris during WWII. He had a mentality similar to Foer’s grandmother, in that ‘You never give up’. Food was a central part to the memories of my grandparents. They both were incredible at making a marinara meat sauce and Italian wedding soup. These two things will never be replicated again. As Foer discussed, families are constantly changing, and the traditions along with it.
– (pg. 11) ‘These stories bind our family together, and bind our family to others. Stories about food are stories about us- our history and our values.’
I feel like so much of who I am came from having nightly dinners with my mother, father, and sister every week growing up. This is where everything was aired out and discussed and bonded to form a family. There is something to be said for coming together as a family and “checking in” with each other. I think too often today families are too occupied with responsibilities and devices that this aspect of growing relationally is lost within families.
– (pg. 17) ‘If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.’
I was struck by Foer’s grandmother and her conviction in the refusal to eat pork. There is so much to unpack in this quote that gets at the essence of life in general. On a daily basis, we can throw in the towel, and submit to apathy and indifference, we can stop caring. Nut in order to live a life worth living you have to care about things in it and have convictions that push you to stand for what you believe in. Otherwise, I agree, there is nothing to save. There is no substance or meaning in folly.
– (pg. 25) ‘. . . George Orwell’s words (from Animal Farm) apply here: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”’
Just today I am sitting here reading this book and I’m starting to get hungry. I decide I want to get tacos from 12 West down the street from where I live. For a moment I panic. I feel guilt and shame for wanting to eat meat given the circumstances of these factory farms. But what will I eat then?! For this occasion, I rationale that there is nothing in the area that I can get without meat, and I place a carryout. The interesting thing that occurred however was that I felt most shameful about eating the steak taco and not the chicken or fish; of the three that I ordered. I couldn’t help but think of a cow out to pasture chewing blades of grass, looking at me with his blank demeanor.
– (pg. 31) ‘Is the suffering of a drawn-out death something that is cruel to inflict on any animal that can experience it, or just some animals?’
YES! My reaction to this question stems back to the belief that foundationally all animals are innocent and free from any desire to commit “evil”, purposeful harm other than for survival. No animal, no matter what its intelligence should have to suffer pain in any capacity. Consciously, I think the only way I am able to continue eating meat is because I am not forced to see the terrible things that these animals go through. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself likely if I really saw the conditions of what these animal are being put through.
– (pg. 67) ‘. . . KFC is arguably the company that has increased the sum of suffering in the world more than any other in history. KFC buys nearly a billion chickens a year.’
The effect that KFC has on the poultry industry is incredible given this statistic. I guess one way that I am helping these poor chickens is that I refuse to ever step into one of these KFC restaurants. The chicken just seems so processed and questionable.
If it couldn’t get much worse, it has. . .
– (pg. 121) ‘On average, Americans eat the equivalent of 21,000 entire animals in a lifetime- one animal for every letter on the last five pages.’
I really like how Foer helps the reader into gaining a perspective of their impact given the figure of ‘speechlessness/influence’ that he carries on over these 5 pages. These types of things can stick with a reader. This statistic is eye opening. It’s weird to think that I have consumed this many animals as a result of simply living as a meat eater.
– (pg. 175) ‘And not all that shit is shit exactly- it’s whatever will fit through the slatted floors of the factory farm buildings. This includes but is not limited to: stillborn piglets, afterbirths, dead piglets, vomit, blood, urine, antibiotic syringes, broken bottles of insecticides, hair, pus, even body parts.’
After reading this passage I was so utterly disgusted. It’s just so disappointing that this type of maltreatment occurs in society. I can’t help but think of the novel ‘The Jungle’ by Upton Sinclair. This type of information was similar to the discourse that was being elaborated in that work.
Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’:
– (pg. 252) ‘We can’t plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness.’
I think this is the central point of Foer’s entire book. We, the collective know better. In my life I have learned there comes a time when there are no more excuses. This is always much easier said than done with many aspects of our daily lives, whether it be to the Earth, animals, or relationally to each other as humans. Throughout the whole book you can see Foer’s passion for his research displayed. I think the key moment for his work came, as he said when his son was born. The torch has been passed and he wants to see his son learn from and change the direction of how we approach food and consumption in general. I can’t sit here today and say that I will be able to participate in such an undertaking. I guess I have a sense of being constrained in a country where the choice to not consume meat would result in a higher cost for me to find “acceptable’’ foods and burden me with the task of following this approach. If you think about it, it’s almost as if we are encouraged to follow a diet the rest of our lives; the anti-Paleo diet.
Dog Who Lost All Four Paws After Abuse in Meat Farm Gets a Forever Home! (PHOTOS)
In South Korea there are farms dedicated to the raising of dogs for consumption much like the factory farms in the United States. Thousands of dogs suffer each year within the confines of such farms. The article discusses Chi Chi, a pup who was rescued from one such farm. Chi Chi was bound upside by her legs and suffered for multiple days in this unbearable position. When veterinarians finally got to her, all four of her paws had to be amputated. However! Chi Chi has been found a home with two dog siblings and a loving family!
The SIP has been approved. Thomas and I will be receiving a check either Tuesday or Thursday to begin purchasing items for the homeless in Delaware.