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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Eating Animals

 I love reading and I'm low on cash, so I like to visit my local library and check out books. I especially love non-fiction political style books because they make you think. On my last trip to the library, I picked up a copy of "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. I just finished it last night, and it is a great book. I really like it because it goes in depth about exactly what happens on modern farms. Mr. Foer spent over three years researching the book and it shows. He personally visited a couple of different factory farms (including once in the middle of the night with an animal liberationist) and got a first hand look at what goes on. The book includes pieces written by factory farmers, a couple of small family farmers, and animal rights activists. He talks about his upbriging and the food culture of his Jewish American family. He also talks about how he waffled between meat eating and vegetarianism for years until he decided to find out where meat actually comes from after his son was born.

  The chapters in titled "Influence/Speechlessness" and "Pieces of Paradise/Pieces of Shit" are particularly good. In "Influence/Speechlessness", he describes the horrific conditions on poultry farms. He talks about not only the suffering of the birds, but how modern poultry farming puts humans at risk. Humans are put at risk by poultry farming in two main ways: the birds are housed in cramped spaces, which means that diseases such as the flu can easily spread from chicken to chicken and from chicken to human (hello bird flu!). Because of this risk, the birds are given routine anti-biotics, which end up in entering the human body when the birds are eaten. This contributes to the development of anti-biotic resistant bacteria.

 In "Pieces of Paradise/Pieces of Shit", the author describes the conditions on the hog farms owned by Smithfield, the largest pork supplier in the US. The book describes how Smithfield often disposes of the pigs shit by simply spraying it up into the air. The shit contains poisons like carbon monoxide and cyanide, which are released into the air (scary). This has caused the rates of respiratory illnesses such as asthma to skyrocket in towns near pig farms. He also mentions how workers near the waste pits have fainted from the smell, fell in the shit and drowned in it! He goes into detail about the inhumane gestation crates and includes quotes by workers who talk about beating the pigs to death. In a later chapter he includes the account of a worker (at another farm) who admitted to cutting off a pigs snout and then rubbing salt in it in order to cause more pain.

In short, if you want to educate your meat eating friends and family about what they are really supporting when they buy meat, then give them a copy of "Eating Animals". It will definitely open their eyes. Those are my thoughts on the book. Bye until next time!

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