Friday, November 27, 2009

The Way We Eat: Why our Food Choices Matter

There's just no beating around the bush with this one. The Way We Eat: Why our Food Choices Matter (2006) by Peter Singer an Jim Mason is an intensive look at the ethics of eating, something that seems almost lost in our modern Western culture, but that is gaining ground once again.

Singer and Mason explore every last nook and cranny of our food system from factory farming to the organics and local food movements, to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, even into dumpster diving and obesity - all far deeper than even Pollan dares to tread. Because contrary to what we'd love to believe about food, it's not just about what we do to our own bodies. Our food choices affect the rest of the world around us, far beyond what we could ever imagine.

The authors have done extensive research, but the best part is that they come at each ethical question as a non-believer, asking tough questions; but more importantly, demanding that you take the information, analyze it, and decide for yourself where your ethical lines are drawn.
When we buy food we are taking part in a vast global industry. Americans spend more than a trillion dollars on food every year. That's more than double what they spend on motor vehicles, and also more than double what the government spends on defense. We are all consumers of food, and we are all affected by some degree by the pollution that the food industry produces. In addition to its impact on over six billion humans, the food industry also directly affects more than fifty billion nonhuman land animals a year. For many of them it controls almost every aspect of their lives... Through the chemicals and hormones it puts into the rivers and seas and the spread of diseases like avian influenza, agriculture indirectly affects all living creatures. All of this happens because of our choices about what we eat. We can make better choices. [emphasis mine]
Whether you're a meat eater, a devoted organic foodie, a locavore, a vegetarian/vegan, or simply a conscientious consumer, this book will challenge what you believe about food. Put plainly, this is not an easy book to read. There were times I felt sick about the treatment of animals and farm workers; there were times I felt defensive, particularly of the local food movement; and at other times, to be honest, I felt the need to reform some of my views on ethical food choices.

Again, it's not a quick and easy read, but it's a must read for anyone looking to live a more mindful life.
Rated: 5 out of 5 stars
Recommended: Do you eat? You need to read this book!

4 comments:

JAM said...

Heather,
I just requested this - so nice to have a book to look forward to! I thought I had read all of the current books about choices and eating, I guess I totally missed this one. I feel like I've been really slipping in my eating, taking the easy way out or eating things I don't want to be eating simply not to waste them (especially around all the extended family meals we've been having). Time to get back to more mindful eating. Thanks for the review.

Heather @ SGF said...

JAM - I'd say, I hope you enjoy it, but it's not one of those kind of books :) Hope you get a good mental workout like I did! It was definitely useful in fine-tuning a life of mindfulness.

kale for sale said...

I recently saw this book and while I rejoiced at the title I didn't even pick it up because, well, because it seemed like preaching to the choir. Now having read your review I'll definitely take a look at it. You got me with the treatment of animals and farmworkers. The higher we can lift the veils on those enterprises the better. Thank you.

Heather @ SGF said...

Kale for Sale - Let me know how you like it!