Tuesday, February 23, 2010

recommended reading

I don't write much about food-related ethical issues here, largely because I suspect I'd be preaching to the converted — if you're a regular reader you're not coming here for tips on how to fancy up frozen factory-farm chicken fingers, and you are probably well aware that self-actualized chickens do not in fact have fingers. If you are a NYC reader we may have even unknowingly elbowed each other at a farmers' market while reaching for the same bundle of local greens. Another reason is that I think these issues are better served when they're covered by people dedicated to news-gathering and to journalistic writing, people like the ones who contribute to The Ethicurean. Nonetheless I want to urge you to read this extract from Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals in today's Guardian.

click here to go to the article

It's about fish (both factory farmed and wild-caught) and fish tend to get overlooked when people talk about how or why they do or do not eat animals. Lots of people say they are "basically vegetarian but eat fish." Sometimes I've been one of those people. Increasing numbers of meat-eaters seem to be paying attention to which varieties of fish they prefer in terms of sustainability, but the yes or no decision whether to eat any fish at all seldom gets discussed in newspapers. It's worth reading and thinking about, and this concise extract is a great place to start.


  1. Paul A.12:06 PM

    There's a newish documentary about salmon farming: http://politicsoftheplate.com/?p=300 -- it looks fairly eye-opening and disturbing.

  2. Between the dyes and the sea lice and the PCBs in their food, farming does seem pretty disturbing. Fresh Direct sometimes sells "organic" farm-raised salmon but I have no idea exactly what that means. I doubt the farms are much more idyllic . . .

  3. Paul A.1:52 PM

    Organic just means the fish are fed organic food pellets.

    Indeed, the word "organic" on a menu or label tells you a fish is farmed (and a hen is caged), since the guarantee about the feed couldn't be made for wild or pastured animals.

    (Yes, you are preaching to the converted.)

  4. Makes sense. It seems like their feed is one of the least-disturbing aspects of their life in the fish farm, though, compared to having their faces gnawed off and all the rest!

  5. Read it earlier this week, and wound up emailing every thoughtful eater I know, a large amount of whom responded well. Fish, so often, gets classed as an honorary vegetable.

    Preaching to the converted for sure, but it's good to be provoked a wee bit from time to time to read less comfortable things. Oh, and I bought a lovage plant last week after your posting and it's going into everything. Thank you.

  6. Hello Lucy. "Honorary vegetable" is funny/sad/apt!

    Glad you got your hands on a lovage plant. I was just thinking about which herbs I'm going to grow in my apt. this year as soon as the sunlight here gets a little stronger and that one is a must. I think I've only ever seen cut bundles of it for sale in a grocery store once, maybe twice, even though it's pretty sturdy compared to other herbs and keeps relatively well. It really deserves to be more popular.