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The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter Paperback – March 6, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594866872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594866876
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An absolutely indispensable book for anyone who thinks about what they eat ... I cannot recommend it highly enough."--Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep and Raising the Peaceable Kingdom

". . . vital, urgent, and disturbing."--Dorothy Kalins, New York Times

". . . clear and persuasive."--Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

"A no-holds-barred treatise on ethical consumption."--Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

This book will make you think about the foods you eat.
AP
This book is packed with information, more than a lot of other books I've read.
Stephen
This is book is a huge eye opener to the products people consume.
Julie Jacobs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Dave G on May 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent introduction for those who want to find out more about where our food comes from. It is not preachy or aggressive. Rather, it opens your mind to the various arguments, while still offering the authors' views on the ethics of different food choices.

The text is very well-researched, from their own first-hand experience, talking to various farmers, as well as from the existing body of literature in science, dietetics, agriculture and philosophy.

No one could accuse this book of being unduly biased. They note the arguments of producers and concede ground where it is appropriate to do so. For example, they note the way some vegans overestimate the amount of water that it takes to produce different types of meat and reach a compromise figure that they believe more accurately reflects the amount of water that goes into beef. They also respectfully recognise the pressures that lead people to make unethical food choices and encourage a way forward without making people feel like they're being whacked over the head with a moral stick.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the origins of our food and how ethics relates to that.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By CreepyT on July 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
There are several books lining the shelves that contain information on animal rights, vegetarianism, and organic and fair trade food items. However, none seem quite as well-rounded, or nearly as objective and succinct as Peter Singer and Jim Mason's The Ethics of What We Eat. These two authors have put together an incredibly well-crafted and unbiased argument regarding making ethical choices at the grocery store, and "voting" with one's diet and wallet.

The book begins by taking the reader to the grocery store on a routine shopping trip with a few different families. The first family is what one might consider your stereotypical "meat and potatoes" American consumers. The second family, in contrast, are "conscientious omnivores" who pay fairly close attention to their purchases, buying certified organic and fair trade items, and eat little meat. The third family is vegan. The authors even foray into "dumpster diving" with a few people who contend that ethical eating involves not letting disposed of edibles go to waste. The day-to-day purchases (or scavenges) of each of these families are dissected and analyzed. Which one of these families is truly making the most ethically sound decisions when it comes to their daily food choices? What lies behind that "Certified Organic" label? What does it mean when something is labeled "free range" or "fair trade?" Is it worth paying extra money for something with the aforementioned labels?

While focusing quite a bit on factory farming, this book also discusses the ethics of buying locally grown food, sustainability of marine ecosystems, environmental impacts of food production (including water and gas use), and the global economy.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Laura Smith on July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like the school bully who gets in his hardest kicks once you're down on the ground and have essentially given up, this book drives home a message in powerful, painful punches. "For modern animal agriculture, the less the consumer knows about what's happening before the meat hits the plate, the better... one of the best things modern animal agriculture has going for it is that most people in the developed countries are several generations removed from the farm and haven't a clue how animals are raised and processed." (p.11) With this, Peter Singer lobs the ball in the air and then proceeds to light the court on fire.

Some of it is hard to read. "For ten hours we grabbed and wrestled birds, jerking them upside down, facing their pushed-open [$%&@], dodging their spurting [$%&@], while breathing air filled with dust and feathers stirred up by panicked birds." (p.29) I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

The dairy cow section was hard to read too, and I admit to my ignorance here. I suppose I thought dairy cows just made milk. I've thought that to be a humane way to farm with cows, and you can imagine a gawky 8-year-old boy straddling a three-legged stool in some ancient barn as the sun rises over the meadow, milking the lone family dairy cow before heading out to school. My quaint image was shattered when Mason informed me otherwise, painting a picture of a cow bellowing for the calf taken from her, and then we're told the calf is dead within a few days, "his body was lying on the farm's compost pile." (p.58) Oh, do I HAVE to keep reading?!

I didn't believe the part about the "drop kicking" of chickens (p.27) so I looked it up on the Internet. Not too hard to find the Pilgrim's Pride video...
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Rose Bird on May 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I really enjoy this book and found it to be very informative and inspirational in terms of eating more carefully. I just feel that the title is a little misleading. It doesn't say much about the problems with non-meat that we eat such as wheat and grains---which many don't tolerate well and they take up a lot of natural resources like water and space as opposed to some things grown using agroforestry like bananas, mangoes, plantain and coconuts--which feed a lot of people and take up less space (from animals) and less water. They talk alot about eating local which I agree with to a large extent but I also know it is helpful to people with fragile economies when we eat produce they grow--it actually helps others outside of the United States. Then too there is the issue of clearing land and maintaining it with ploughs which kills lots of indigenous wildlife like rabbits and other small animals as well as nesting birds. So while I really enjoy the concept of this book and realize it contains vital information for the public, I hope in future editions they will address some of the other issues people are less familiar with at this point, like eating cash crops grown by indigenous people, leaning more on agroforestry and less on massive land crops that kill animals and use nature resources.
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