Monday, November 9, 2009

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer


Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals is the first non-fiction book (other than cookbooks) that has caught my interest in a while. The author of Everything Is Illuminated researched eating animals in preparation for the birth of his child so that he could make an informed decision about his child's diet. Foer is no animal rights activist, but someone who previously ate a vegetarian diet on-and-off, and who is interested in knowing the facts behind his food. This book shares his research, including visits to family farms, interviews with factory farm workers, and nights spent with an animal activist during farm visits.

Each chapter begins by highlighting one fact, and these alone will cause reflection. Consider that "Less than 1% of the animals killed for meat in America come from family farms." Visualize that "in the typical cage for egg-laying hens, each bird has 67 square inches of space". Foer includes an image to demonstrate just how small this is.

The information presented never seemed dry to me, a credit to Foer's writing style and creative strategies for illustrating points. Sometimes Foer approaches subjects by raising questions to challenge our assumptions, such as his examination of A Case for Eating Dogs. Foer even looks at the emotional ties we have to food, as well as the social implications of our food choices. I found his tone consistently respectful and not preachy.

Reading information that could rock your world does pose some risks. Living without that information has consequences as well.

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