Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eating Animals

{Today is a "guest post" by none other than my most wonderful husband, Brad.  In one of his university classes, he was required to do a book critique.  He chose Eating Animals which I thought would fit in with the blog.  I asked him to write a post for us once he was done, and here it is.}

In Jonathan Safran Foer’s book titled Eating Animals he talks about his research on factory farming.  Foer spent three years researching this topic in order to write this book, but admittedly he has no background in the food industry.  He lived in New York City and admitted that he had never touched a farm animal.  He wanted to find out for himself and his family what meat is.
Foer is a vegetarian and wanted to research the ‘production’ of animals because he wanted to give his newly born son the best nutrition as he grew up. Whenever Foer told someone he was writing a book about ‘eating animals,’ they assumed that it was a case for vegetarianism. This is the assumption that in reading about how animals are treated it would lead one away from eating meat, most people know this to be the case.  Interesting, isn't it?

Throughout the book, Foer ends up telling several stories, each ending with the same horrific result.  The first story is about microbes.  People in the United States are prescribed 3 million pounds of antibiotics per year, while livestock are fed nearly twenty-eight million pounds.  The animals become resistant to the antibiotics and produce a new strain of germs which are resistant to the antibiotics.  Then new antibiotics are given to fight the new germ.  Humans then ingest the meat and the new strains of antibiotic resistant germs.  We now become resistant and when we try to treat illnesses, the drugs have a decreased effect on us, causing us to increase the amount of drugs needed.

He uses dogs as an example by saying that “no reader of this book would tolerate someone swinging a pickax at a dog’s face,” yet this is a common practice for how fish are killed.  Chickens are dunked in a bath to shock and stun them, pigs are electrocuted, and cows who have a bolt shot into their heads.  Often these methods do little more than put the animal through more torture as then they are put through the process of skinning and dismemberment alive and fully conscious.

A third story the Foer tells is about the waste that animals produce, and do they produce a lot.  One report that Foer states is that the excrement produced by pigs from a single company is as much as all human residents of the states of California and Texas combined.  Unfortunately, “concentrated animal feeding operations,” of CAFOs, have no waste-treatment systems.  The waste gets dumped into holding ponds.  This is just an open-air pit where all the waste from the animals is piled all year round.  To no one’s surprise, the waste in these ponds tends to seep into nearby streams and rivers which cause aquatic “dead zones.”  It is estimated that some thirty-five thousand miles of American waters have been contaminated.  To top off these ponds that are destroying aquatic life, humans who work with the ponds also die.  Either due to the effects of breathing it in for years, or falling in and drowning, this has happened on multiple occasions.

 Using these three stories to illustrate what factory farming is composed of, Foer asks us to make an informed decision if we want to support treating animals this way.  He is not saying that we should all become vegans, or vegetarians even.  He is saying that we should be informed about what we are supporting when we buy our meat, and decide for ourselves if we want to be support those companies.  I think that if more people were aware of the process in which their food went through to become their food, they might choose differently in what they consume.

What aspects do you take into consideration when choosing your food?


  1. Wow...that is terrible that they do not kill the animals before butchering them!! I still do choose to eat meat, but my prefrence is getting it from someone I know who raises the animals and then taking it to a butcher I know. I am horrified at the treatment of the animals used for our grocers.
    Awesome guest poster!! ;)

  2. We try to grow as much of your own food as possible; meat included. In this we are aware of their life and their death, ensuring both are honoring to God who created them, and to the animal who serves his purpose on this earth.
    Modern meat marketing is a horrible tragedy that would surely grieve our grandparents and forefathers.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Factory farming is an atrocious business. Keep the information coming. Awareness is key. Know where your food comes from.