THE VINE NOVEMBER 2, 2009
At the risk of seeming like I’m kissing up to the boss’s family, I have to flag this great essay by Jonathan Safran Foer in The Wall Street Journal making the Swiftian case for eating dog. After all, pigs are just as smart, but there’s nothing keeping most of us from firing up the spit-roaster. And of course, throughout history many people have taken to canine cuisine. It’s worth pointing out a few highlights from his essay. Here’s the best plank of his argument, the environmental reason for putting Fido on the dinner menu:
Three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized annually. The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-cute-enough-to-take and not-quite-well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too.
In a sense it’s what we’re doing already. Rendering—the conversion of animal protein unfit for human consumption into food for livestock and pets—allows processing plants to transform useless dead dogs into productive members of the food chain. In America, millions of dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters every year become the food for our food. So let’s just eliminate this inefficient and bizarre middle step.
At the end of the essay he makes an important point:
There is an overabundance of rational reasons to say no to factory-farmed meat: It is the No. 1 cause of global warming, it systematically forces tens of billions of animals to suffer in ways that would be illegal if they were dogs, it is a decisive factor in the development of swine and avian flus, and so on. And yet even most people who know these things still aren't inspired to order something else on the menu. Why?
Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.
Exactly. Food culture is so deeply wedded to issues of personal choice that it makes talking about the global impact of meat consumption a political non-starter. What's needed is for incisive writers to grapple with the question of why most people who are aware of all of the rational reasons not to eat meat do so anyway, and that’s why I’m looking forward to reading his new book.
(Flickr photo credit: BlissAbyss2112)