Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer & Jim Mason

I've told any number of people that Michael Pollan's Book The Omnivore's Dilemma was one of the most profound books I've ever read, and I mean it. It's a thoughtful, personal look at one person's food choices, told against the backdrop of modern agriculture and farming. Pollan's honesty --- about the process and his feelings as he journeys through the book --- will stay with me for years to come.

So, too, will the ideas and arguments in The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (originally released as The Way We Eat), written by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. Although the books seems at first glance to cover some of the same territory as Pollan's book did, Ethics comes at it from a different angle. Not so much a book about personal choices, Ethics instead looks at the food choices made by three very families and how their choices affect the animals, the environment, and issues like child slavery and indentured servitude.

Anyone who has read Peter Singer or is more than vaguely aware of him knows that he's not going to be an advocate of eating meat. The man who wrote what many consider to be one of the high holy books regarding animal treatment, Animal Liberation, isn't about to change his fundamental views regarding the human-animal relationship, but The Ethics of What We Eat goes so much deeper than "we should be nice to animals".

This is a book that asks deep, fundamental, philosophical questions about a subject most people truly don't spend a lot of time examining --- what they support and tacitly condone through their food shopping choices, and the type of world that exists through the dollars they spend on food and eating.

It is certainly that aspect of both books, Omnivore's Dilemma and The Ethics of What We Eat that I hold closest and feel such profound connection to. These books are deep. The men who wrote them ask such probing, personal questions about basic beliefs and the essence of the responsibilities we have to other creatures and other people, that I would find it all but impossible that one could read the book all the way through and not have to come face to face with some intriguing realizations about themselves and the way they see the world.

You may not agree with everything that is argued in this book. In fact, there may whole chapters where you have a distinct disagreement with the authors, and that's O.K. But if you are someone who feels any curiosity about how the choices you make in the supermarket affect the world we live in, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It may not cause you to change your mind, but it will certainly make you think, long after you've closed the cover.

No comments:


Blog Design By Sour Apple Studio © All Rights Reserved.