Week 8 – Blog Post

March 7, 2018

Prior to reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, I went into reading this book with a very closed mindset: I’m a meat eater, this won’t change. However reading this book, my opinion on eating meat has changed. That being said wether I will actually stop eat is still up for debate. Foer makes many irrefutable points about the abuse that is rampant among factory farms, and on top of that he makes it very easy to relate to him. He tells the story of his grandmother who while fleeing the Holocaust, was starving and getting sicker from not being properly nourished. He writes that she came across a Russian farmer who offered her a piece of pork, he writes that she did not eat it because it wasn’t kosher. During this interaction with her, Foer writes:

“He saved your life.”

“I didn’t eat it.”

“You didn’t eat it?”

“It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.”


“What do you mean why?”

“What, because it wasn’t kosher?”

“Of course.”

“But not even to save your life?”

“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.” (Foer 16-17).

Foer also writes of about his son, who was born around the same time as he began to write this book. His son becomes a consistent person that he always come back to. Foer easily becomes very easily to relate to, so the points he makes in the rest of his book stick that much harder. In the next chapter he makes many points for the case of eating dogs, even comparing them to pigs and how they essentially have the same mental capacity as dogs do. He also states that 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized annually and as he says, this amounts to millions of pounds of meat being thrown away every year. But he says that though it is legal in 44 states, there is a taboo around eating “man’s best friend”. During the words/meaning chapter, he defines lots of words that surround the topic of eating animals. He lists tons and tons of words, included his definition of it/an explanation of them. In Hiding / Seeking he writes of his experience with C, an animal activist. The two of them sneak into a farm, in particular they go into a farm shed were tens of thousands of turkey chicks are being kept. He includes a passage from C, and another from a factory farmer. During this chapter he also describes the rise of factory farms, and the addition of antibiotics and the genetic research surrounding creating the “ideal chicken”. In slices of paradise/ pieces of shit he talks about a pig factory farm. In I Do he talks about meeting Bill and Nicolette Niman. Nicolette is a vegetarian, which is a topic that Foer addresses, and it is pretty interesting. Finally he ends with Storytelling which basically just serves as a recap of the book but with different examples. I liked this chapter a lot because he talks about “The Global Table” which he uses as examples to describe the overall world and how each of them would be divided if they were represented by various things.

Overall, this book was very well written and easy to follow. I enjoyed reading it even though he went into excruciatingly detailed accounts of how corrupt the factory farms actually are, which is obviously necessary but it was quite upsetting to read those details.

Here is a piece of environmental news:



“Eating Animals”

March 6, 2018

Eating Animals:

I love that this exploration into the American factory farm is a part of this course. It is essential that others are made aware of the cruel practices of factory farming like the extremely fast-paced genetically-modified growth rate for poultry (to the extent that their bones can’t keep up, leading to walking impairment or worse complete disability) as well as the rather loosely defined regulations that, in the US, make any act legal as long as it is practiced by a majority of the industry! WTF! This being said, I appreciated the rather blunt form of speech used by Foer to convey such intense realities. I found that his section on “words, meaning” was very informative and provided a sort of foundational structure on which I could build from any additional information provided by the book. The witty titles and subheadings riddled throughout the text gave me with some very needed relief. I don’t think I could have read through a stark, academic looking text without falling into significant sadness as well as becoming completely enraged and throwing my book across the room cursing our culture for its greed and selfishness.

I am glad there are those like Frank Reese out there making a serious commitment to the betterment of livestock treatment. I recognize that there has been a considerable amount of time (at least 400 years) since farmers arrived in America, but how did it come to us sticking 33,000 birds in a large box with limited light and food, and castrating and branding livestock?

What is important now is that we take this to heart and challenge ourselves to make change, and contrary to anti-humanists embody hope (using it as our fuel to burn a motivational fire within us) rather than blame and despair. Humans are a gift to the world when they follow their intended purpose (which is currently unknown), but can cause massive destruction and cruelty to everything near them when they turn away from this responsibility.

Eating Animals

March 6, 2018

The novel Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran was a simply written yet very well put together book in my opinion. I love how It uncovered a great deal of things that I, and many other people , tend to put in the back of my mind . What the author opens is a dialogue that many can discuss and understand. I enjoyed his narratives and stories of his family, especially his grandmother.  Hearing her stories about surviving the war put into the viewpoint of how lucky Americans are with the ease of eating. She was also an insight into the thinking of her generation, a generation that survived wars and the Great Depression, and didn’t take anything for granted especially the health and sustenance of themselves and their families. One of my favorite examples in the novel was when we learned about the treatment of different animals in each culture, for example the French love their dogs, but eat horse  the Spanish love their horses, but eat cows; the Indians love their cows, but eat dogs this comparison and illustration really blew my mind and opened my eyes to the different ways animals are viewed in each culture.

Throughout the reading these four vocabulary words stood out to me so i did a little more research by looking them up and defining them.

  • Anthropomorphism – The urge to project human experience onto the other animals.
    – Example  A boy ask if his dog, Luke, gets lonely when he leave him at home.
  • Downer– An animal, usually livestock, that cannot stand on its own and therefore is to be killed.
    – Example – The animal’s inability to stand may be caused by illness or injury, which caused it to be called this.
  • Anthropodenial- The refusal to concede significant experiential likeness between humans and the other animals
  • Common Farming Exemptions – Makes legal any method of raising farmed animals so long as it is commonly practiced within the industry. In other words, farmers/corporations have the power to define cruelty.

Nature Pt 2

February 28, 2018

Before reading Nature, I had not considered the different uses and perspectives of nature throughout history. In chapter 6, Coates discusses the European view of nature and landscape as a sort of “tamed” or “perfected nature.” Throughout the chapter, Coates highlights how problematic designating lands for specific uses can be, in the context of recreation, agriculture, and industry. This gets me back to thinking about land use and what is “best” for the specific ecosystem we are using, but I’m not sure how I, or we as humans, can really know what is “best.” At this point, we can’t undo what has been done, so where do we go from here? Do we even need to do anything? Do we close the land off, or do we let things keep happening as they will? I appreciated the presentation of various perspectives of different authors, philosophers, societies, and cultures and it was more of an informative read than anything else. I do have plenty of thoughts about this half of the reading, but I don’t feel too inclined to write them out here.


Cool Food Waste Law in France for Grocery Stores:



February 28, 2018

I found that continuing to read Nature by Coates was pretty tough. He jumps around so many different ideas and there is so much content that it becomes a bit confusing to read. Nonetheless, there is plenty of food for thought within these chapters.

Coates talks about the word scenery, which was born in the theater. Some natural scenes are staged – allowing us to interact with them as we see fit. However, in these staged scenes, are we interacting with nature or someone’s interpretation of nature? This reminds me of Holden Arboretum. It is a large area with many nature trails and a lookout tower. However, there is a small area of the arboretum which is much more staged, with cut grass and modern garden which probably has an appeal to some, but to me did not feel natural at all. I feel that the staged area isn’t doesn’t offer the same kind of exploration as un-staged nature might.

A recurring idea in Nature is that people have the need to control and consume nature. This comes back as Coates quotes a man who thinks that nature is so low on in respect that with improvement, a natural area may become a place. I believe the idea of man needing to control everything does not only apply to nature, but many subjects as well. For example, our current government.

In chapter 7, there is an argument stating that modern environmentalism stems from the many poisons humans produce – pollutants, nuclear fallout, insecticides, plastics, etc. I feel this is probably true – the Cuyahoga River catching fire in the 1960’s were a big mark for change in America. The fire able to happen because of all the pollutants in the river. Additionally, Coates talks about how modern environmental thought wants to dissociate with Romantic feelings from nature. Romantics felt that nature was essentially a religion. While I do not advocate for following nature as a religion, I actually believe that no respect for nature can form if there is no deep feeling for nature. So I may differ from modern environmental thought in this regard.


In Environmental news, Rome plans to ban all diesel cars by 2024 to combat air pollution . I think this is a really big step for Italy, and the announcement comes shortly after Germany announced a similar plan. Two-thirds of cars sold in Italy are fueled by diesel, so the ban will likely have major effects.


Week 7- Blog Post

February 28, 2018

Nature (ch. 6-9). In the beginning of Chapter 6 Coates begins by discussing how the new geographers seek to reveal the definition and use of the word nature. He also writes about one of my personal favorite regions, the American West. One of my favorite quotes from this chapter is, “A Yosemite Indian revisiting Yosemite valley was unimpressed by subsequent changes in the land. Management (or lack of it) for the sake of wilderness values had fostered a landscape she thought untidy and overgrown” (pg. 112). In chapter 7, he starts off by saying “Modern environmentalism has been condition by a range of dangers towards land, air, seas and inland water that are largely unique to the period since the Second World War” (pg. 125). He then lists pollutants that have been started to be detected, particularly nuclear fall-out, insecticides, inorganic fertilizers, plastics and chemical detergents. A next major section of this chapter is called Darwinism, ecology and nature. One of my favorite things he wrote in this chapter is “Open a British book written out after 1859 containing ‘Man’ and ‘Nature’ in its title – of which there were many- and you will find no discussion of human impact on the environment” (pg. 140). To be honest I really didn’t understand a lot of the points in chapter 8. In chapter 9 he discusses the future of nature. He starts off by describing how in 1989 there was a US state department official who provocative article called “The end of History?” In another part of this chapter he discussed how research on animal behavior that particularly questions the divide between nature and culture by suggesting common bonds between animals and people marks the end of nature. This was an interesting point. Overall I found this book to be quite dull, but informative, which is exactly what you said.

In environmental news heres an article:





February 28, 2018

During my reading this week these 10 questions I came up with really made me think.

  • How do you feel about Coates using a lot of other author’s opinions and beliefs rather than his own?
  • Ronald Hepburn stated on page 110 that he believes “We perceive and evaluate natural objects and objects of art differently” do you agree or disagree with Hepburn’s saying here?
  • Coates depicts how Europeans controlled nature for skeptical purposes, during the eighteenth century.  Do you think that type of controlled nature is still relevant today?
  • Do you think it’s possible to be without human influence when looking at the meaning of nature?
  • Later in chapter 6 the book talks about Ha-Ha fences. Their purpose was to prevent access to a garden, for example by livestock, without blocking the views. What’s your thoughts on the name and purpose of these fences?
  • What do you think when you hear the quote “the idea of nature as a liberating principle and the association of the right the good and the immutable”?
  • “If nature is good, then human nature must also be good” was a hot topic and often debated by 18th century ethicists. Do you agree or disagree with this saying and why?
  • A corrupt culture and innocent nature, approached history as a foul deviation from nature’s original plan for liberty and equality. Do you find this line to be true?
  • Coates brings up the idea that that mountains and wilderness were not always considered beautiful or of spiritual value. Can you see why people would have thought this and why?
  • What’s your overall opinion on Darwinism?



Overall I would have like to see Coates use more of his words rather than quoting a lot of other art hours. In my opinion it kind of takes away the legitimacy of his work. However Coates presented the conclusion and debates of many different topics in the closing chapters of his book ranging from the meaning of landscape, the romanticism impact on nature and how we as humans view it.

Learning how so much of nature isn’t yet conquered was very interesting to me, I love how the book explained how nature “fights back”. All in all I love seeing perspectives from others point of view, it forces you to see the how someone else perceives it rather just yourself.