Peter Singer { Read } The Way We Eat Why Our Food Choices Matter

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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 cri. 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 classPeter 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 wildThe 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 dayThe 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 worldAgain 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 itNote 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 betterThe 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 OmnivoreIt 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 reuires 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 reuires 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 Chiuita 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 eatersThe 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 uality 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 unnaturalAre 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 1584 gallons of water to produce beef However the authors do contend that eating chips actually uses up water Beef however is the meat that reuires the most amount of waterIn 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 easeFreegansIf 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 consumedIn 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 indefensibleSinger 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 conseuences 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 aboutI 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

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The Way We Eat Why Our Food Choices Matter

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 fanatic. Disclaimer don t take my review too seriously because I don t feel ualified to judge the uality of the book It s definitely a good book but I m just rating based on my personal enjoyment Really eye opening but after like the first half I felt like I got the point Learned a lot about how to make better choices and how Whole Foods is actually a super cool and awesome concept until it got eaten up by But also learned that literally almost EVERYTHING will have some sort of negative impact on the environment or animals even when you try to buy localorganic The cover a section on the ethics of dumpster diversfreegans which I wasn t expecting but was interesting Even just finishing your plate it an act of humanity of preventing waste excess damage to the environment and animals I thought it was interesting how obesity and other ailments of the affluent are harmful to the environment because you are causing an unneeded and excess demand to purge environmental resources and farm animals Best part of the book I love the breadth of the effects of your dollar of what you pay for that is covered A lot of people think vegetarians are just about saving animals BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO THE PROCESS By making better choices you can make an impact on the environment animal cruelty farm worker safety living wages etcAnyway food is political duh and where you buy you food from whom you buy your food from is also political So vote with your dollars where you can

Peter Singer Û 2 Read

Tical 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. 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 seeingLabels how do they work And when do they fool youThe 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 TradeI 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

10 thoughts on “The Way We Eat Why Our Food Choices Matter

  1. says:

    This is a fantastic book written in a non academic style covering issues such an animal welfare organic foods locally grown foods with a surprising twist on that choice and fair trade items I found this book incredibly well researched and open to empirical facts rather than demonstrating any blind allegiance to any one particular view point A

  2. says:

    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 classPeter Singer is well known in philo

  3. says:

    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 tha

  4. says:

    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 didFar from taking a hardline approach and condemning all non vegans out o

  5. says:

    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 thos

  6. says:

    Worth a readrecommendation 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 unsusta

  7. says:

    Disclaimer don't take my review too seriously because I don't feel ualified to judge the uality of the book It's definitely a good book but I'm just rating based on my personal enjoyment Really eye opening but after like the first hal

  8. says:

    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 im

  9. says:

    So thought pro

  10. says:

    In his recent work The Ethics of What We Eat March 2007 Singer and farmer Jim Mason investigate the shopping choices of thre