Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Favorite Reads of 2010: Eating Animals

It's that time of year again--your friendly neighborhood librarians are eager to tell you about their favorite reads of 2010. Here is Leslie R. with a review:

Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer

Saying that this disturbing book was my favorite of the year isn’t completely true, but it probably was the most important and influential one I’ve read this year. Foer (the author of the novels Everything is Illuminated, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) was an off-again, on-again vegetarian. Expecting his first child, he wanted to make informed choices about feeding his family. Foer examined how our food reaches our tables and the food choices we make. What does food mean to us? How does it fit into our personal histories and traditions? Why are we willing to eat a highly intelligent pig, but are horrified at the thought of eating a dog? He investigated factory farms, reporting on the often terribly inhumane treatments of the animals. He witnessed how the waste products from the farms and processing plants have unhealthy consequences for our health and environment. (You will never feel the same about a chicken dinner after reading how chickens are processed before shipping to the supermarkets...)

Interspersed with his investigations are first-person pieces by others: a vegan who builds slaughterhouses, a vegetarian rancher, a poultry farmer, a factory farmer, and more-- that help broaden beyond Foer’s viewpoint.

Although Foer has chosen not to eat animals and writes from that perspective, this book is important for carnivores as well. It’s possible for animals to reach our tables without inhumane treatment. Our food can be processed without spoiling our environment and creating waste that threatens our health. We seem to prefer distance from our food and ignorance about how it reaches us, but Eating Animals shows that the distance may come at too high a price for both people and animals.

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