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USA: 'Eating Animals` hard to read, only because of subject matter

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  • Pamela Rice
    Original: http://www.broomfieldenterprise.com/ci_13979451 Pettis: Eating Animals` hard to read, only because of subject matter Kerry Pettis, Enterprise
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 13, 2009

      Pettis: 'Eating Animals` hard to read, only because of subject matter
      Kerry Pettis, Enterprise columnist
      Posted: 12/12/2009

      "Eating Animals"
      by Jonathan Safran Foer

      Recently a number of books have been published about eating
      ethically, factory farming and vegetarian vs. carnivorous lifestyles.
      Bestsellers include "The Omnivore`s Dilemma" by Michael Pollan,
      "Animals Make Us Human" by Colorado author Temple Grandin, and now
      "Eating Animals." These are difficult books to read, not for their
      writing style but for the issues they raise and the often-horrific
      stories they tell. But, as Foer notes, "We know more than we care to
      admit" about these hidden issues.

      Foer had been an off-and-on vegetarian in his college years, more
      because it was the "in" thing to do rather than out of true
      conviction. Then, with the birth of his first child, he started to
      think more deeply about the hidden parts of getting meat to the
      table. He began to research the question of ethical animal
      agriculture; he interviewed stockyard and processing plant employees,
      attempted to tour factory farms, and talked with animal cruelty

      What he learned appalled him. He decided that "virtually all of the
      time one`s choice is between cruelty and ecological destruction and
      ceasing to eat animals." One night he sneaked into a turkey factory
      farm, finding thousands of baby birds crammed into sheds, many of
      them dying. The doors of all the sheds were locked, which puzzled him
      since there was no equipment to steal in the sheds, and the animals
      couldn`t be efficiently stolen because of the difficulty of
      transporting a significant number. He concluded a farmer doesn`t lock
      his doors because he`s afraid his animals will escape but because he
      doesn`t want strangers seeing what is going on inside the sheds. Foer
      notes that in the three years he was researching this topic, nothing
      unsettled him more than the locked doors. "Nothing will better
      capture the whole sad business of factory farming."

      Foer interviewed farmers who are trying to achieve ethical animal
      agriculture. He found people who raise "heritage" turkeys that are
      allowed free range, ranchers who graze their cattle in open grassland
      and attempt humane slaughtering procedures. Such individuals are few
      and far between, and are gradually being driven out by the
      conglomerates that control factory farming.

      In the end, after much horrific and saddening research, Foer commits
      himself and his family to vegetarianism. He says this book "is an
      argument for vegetarianism, but it`s also an argument for another,
      wiser animal agriculture and more honorable omnivory.

      "One of the great opportunities to live our values -- or betray them
      -- lies in the food we put on our plates."

      Kerry Pettis is a retired elementary school teacher and children`s
      librarian who has lived in Broomfield since 1975. Reading is her
      favorite occupation.
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