- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books; 1st edition (May 2, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 157954889X
- ISBN-13: 978-1579548896
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 32.3 x 233.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Ethicist Singer and co-author Mason (Animal Factories) document corporate deception, widespread waste and desensitization to inhumane practices in this consideration of ethical eating. The authors examine three families' grocery-buying habits and the motivations behind those choices. One woman says she's "absorbed in my life and my family...and I don't think very much about the welfare of the meat I'm eating," while a wealthier husband and wife mull the virtues of "triple certified" coffee, buying local and avoiding chocolate harvested by child slave labor, though "no one seems to be pondering that as they eat." In investigating food production conditions, the authors' first-hand experiences alternate between horror and comedy, from slaughterhouses to artificial turkey-insemination ("the hardest, fastest, dirtiest, most disgusting, worst-paid work"). This sometimes-graphic exposé is not myopic: profitability and animal welfare are given equal consideration, though the reader finishes the book agreeing with the authors' conclusion that "America's food industry seeks to keep Americans in the dark about the ethical components of their food choices." A no-holds-barred treatise on ethical consumption, this is an important read for those concerned with the long, frightening trip between farm and plate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Less concerned with what people choose to eat per se, Singer and Mason make a case for how people's everyday food choices affect others' lives. They describe in vivid detail how applying industrial processing principles to animal husbandry has led to cheap foods whose cost savings occur at the expense of animals raised for profit and for product. Using Wal-Mart as an example, they lay out how huge retailers wield enormous power over prices and compel those far up the chain of food production and distribution to make unhelpful decisions. They hold up for admiration a Kansas family that has turned vegan so as not to participate in this particular destructive cycle of animal and human exploitation. They also thoughtfully and critically examine the ethical pros and cons of eating meat in any form. Urban dwellers far removed from the source of the foods they eat will find Singer and Mason's descriptions of food production more disturbing and violent than the quiet, attractive, plastic-wrapped displays in the local supermarket's pristine meat case. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
anyway, as this book has reaffirmed for me, eating meat "fails" on a number of fronts concerning the head & heart, but eating meat produced through industrialized farming -- which in this country unfortunately makes up 90-98% of the meat available, depending on which meat (or eggs) -- fails on every imaginable front: health; ethical for the animals (living conditions, selective breeding, slaughter, etc.); ethical for humans (wages, conditions, environmental concerns, health risks to humans in terms of viruses and chemicals, etc.); and environment (pollution, inefficient use of food/energy used in industrialized farming, etc.).
of course, it is possible to eat meat that avoids most of these ethical concerns, but it takes some effort to certify that the meat and eggs are genuinely coming from a responsible, sustainable, humane farm. there are still health questions, however, as well as concerns about energy uses to produce and transport the food (vs. more efficient options), but those can be addressed on a more personal basis. the other ethical concerns, however, should genuinely trouble all persons with consciences and challenge them to re-consider what, and the ways in which, they eat.
but rest assured: this book is not a blatant case for veganism, and I'm not suggesting that vegans can read it with little to no ethical stirrings. there are a still a host of ethical issues relating to fruits, veggies, rice, coffee, etc., particularly when it comes to concerns about the environmental impact of buying organic and/or buying local -- this is an issue that I have wondered about, and this book was helpful in addressing some of the ethical concerns in, for instance, buying more locally grown but not organic fruit vs. organic fruit imported from another country. also, is it always better to buy local when the money can go further and do more good in developing countries? actually, this book has only further complicated the picture for me -- but that's because the issues are so darn complex, not because of any fault of the writers. most helpful has been the prod to think and research, and the sources they provide to help are a great start.
I do wish that the authors would have been a bit more critical about "dumpstering" and "freegans" at the end. I think they gave a free pass to a phony, garbled revolutionary outlook about consumerism and change. becoming irrelevant to a system you think is destroying the world isn't the best way to work against it -- it's just a way of washing your hands of a problem and going on your way.
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