I've also been afraid to feel as if I know better than someone else -- a historically dangerous stance...
The human cost of factory farming -- both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals -- is staggering. Foer details the copious amounts of pig shit sprayed into the air that result in great spikes in human respiratory ailments, the development of new bacterial strains due to overuse of antibiotics on farmed animals, and the origins of the swine flu epidemic, whose story has gripped the nation, in factory farms.
I read the chapter on animal shit aloud to two friends -- one is from Iowa and has asthma and the other is a North Carolinian who couldn't eat fish from her local river because animal waste had been dumped in it as described in the book.
But what Foer most bravely details...
And as we use food to impart our beliefs to our children, the point from which Foer lifts off, what stories do we want to tell our children through their food?
I remember in college, a professor asked our class to consider what our grandchildren would look back on as being backward behavior or thinking in our generation, the way we are shocked by the kind of misogyny, racism, and sexism we know was commonplace in our grandparents' world.
I say that Foer's ethical charge against animal eating is brave because not only is it unpopular, it has also been characterized as unmanly, inconsiderate, and juvenile.