I was going to post this in the comment section of Feeding Ourselves in response to a passionate comment by Vic but after reading it Alex asked me to put it here as a new post. Food issues are touchy subject, extremely personal and volatile. This blog is meant to be an open exchange of ideas. We may or may not agree with what others have to say but we always appreciate your input and opinions.
Those are definitely examples that I hadn’t been considering when I wrote my post. I can understand your passion and your point of view, especially if you have experienced any of the preparations that you described. I am not against regulations regarding torture and vivisection and frankly conditions in many industrial feedlots can be considered the equivalent of government-approved torture of animals. I still believe in freedom of choice. I believe in the power of education and it’s ability to change people’s minds. I also believe that most people would be against eating something that was tortured to death or painfully and sadistically slaughtered so here in America that is mostly a moot point. Why else would there be such a strong movement for sustainability and humanely raised and slaughtered animals? Realistically I know that vivisection happens in different parts of the world (and probably closer than I realize) but it is almost beyond my comprehension that anyone would ever knowingly harvest a live animal for consumption. So in that instance I would agree with you. There should be regulations for extreme measures. Those were not the scenarios I had in mind when I wrote my post and it’s a lesson to me not to make broad sweeping statements without considering all possible ramifications.
I still believe that in most cases people should have the right to choose. I also believe that regulations can be used to protect the rights of animals. The fact that we eat them doesn’t give us the right to abuse them. But at the moment those regulations don’t exist. The fact that we do eat other living creatures is inescapable. There’s no way to make the fact that we raise animals for food anything other than what it is. We should respect the food that we eat. We should consume it with love and enjoyment and the knowledge that something else is giving up its existence to feed us, whether it is a fruit or a vegetable or a pig. There are lots of people who don’t eat lobster or foie gras or HFCS or mass produced chickens raised in CAFOs or farmed fish or pesticide drenched berries picked by poorly paid migrant workers. We make choices and when demand falls different items slowly fall out of the food chain, or not.
My point is this, once you’ve made a choice and cooked a meal it’s important to enjoy it. If you spend a meal thinking of all of the bad things that went into it or what you could have eliminated if you had more time or more money or made better choices than there’s no point in eating it. There’s no pleasure left in the experience. We are extremely lucky to be at the top of the food chain. Luck is really all there is to it. These days it seems as though every choice we make in buying and preparing food is fraught with peril. Our food system in America has serious problems and we’re not alone. But we cannot always think about every bite that goes into our mouths and how and why it got there. Sometimes we just need to eat. Occasionally just eating something for pleasure and sustenance and not including the politics should be okay, as long as we’re not abusing our food source in the process.
While I’m thinking about these issues, where do oysters fall on the food chain? They’re theoretically still alive when we eat them on the half shell. Can they feel it? Do they know? Anyone?