The Way We Eat Why Our Food Choices Matter PDF/EPUB ï

The Way We Eat Why Our Food Choices Matter 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 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 uestion 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 critiue not exposure to these ethical problemsFull review 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 After reading this book I've entered into several conversations with vegananimal rights friends of mine who generally criticize Singer who was once the philosophical head of the animals rights movement and is now seen generally as having sold out to places such as Whole Foods for his shift towards animal welfarism rather than animal rights I was directed to a website called humane myths that discusses the myths behind humanely raised food though I actually found it supported my animal welfarist feelings rather than refuted them Anyways this is an excellent book though I'm sure animal rightists would disagree but I highly recommend it to all who wish to eat ethically and see that decision as one filled with nuances and trade offs rather than as a black and white proposition as so many animal rightists do 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 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 WORSTI 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 GreedThe authors are uite 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

  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • The Way We Eat Why Our Food Choices Matter
  • Peter Singer
  • English
  • 13 February 2016
  • 9781594866876

About the Author: Peter Singer


Peter Singer was born in Melbourne Australia in 1946 and educated at the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford After teaching in England the United States and Australia he has since 1999 been Ira W DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University He is married with three daughters and four grandchildren His recreations include hiking and surfing In 2012 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia the nation’s highest civic honour

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