Chef Parker Bosley responds to our review of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer:
Do we really need another book dealing with meat production? No. Anyone who has interest or curiosity regarding meat production can educate and inform himself quite easily. Industrial agriculture, agri-industries and their mouthpiece, the Farm Bureau, are a kind of evil empire. Their system of "food" production is wrong on every level. We know this. Tell the literary crowd, the left-wing radicals and the vegetarians and vegans to give it a rest.
Industrial agriculture is harmful to the environment because it destroys natural resources; wrong because it practices inhumane animal confinement, sends cheap food to the masses that is making us sick and obese. Also, huge confinement systems destroy the family farm which in turn erodes the economic base of rural America. This list could go on and on with contributions from many quarters. There is no end to the atrocities of our food production system. Rather than writing another book about it we should be interested in educating and changing the consumers who have come to love and expect cheap, convenient food.
As I read your review I was confused at times. (Perhaps I have limited comprehension skills.) It appeared that you were more interested in sharing your writing skills, your knowledge and your ability to include the word shit again and again. Why, I do not know. The review of this book, another in the parade of anti-meat-eating, could have been summed-up easily. "Eating Animals is a book that recycles the same old story." With this brief, one-sentence review, you would have had plenty of space to talk about real farms and real farming.
I visit farms and I work directly with farmers. Good people are doing good. Food derived from animals — meat, poultry, diary products and eggs — can be produced in systems that are good for the land, the animals, eaters, farms and rural economies. Yes, animals will be slaughtered. If animal slaughter is a problem for someone he should simply not eat meat and then shut up about his personal issues. Like abortion, if you opposite this medical treatment, don't have one. It is not, in either case, something to preach about and one should not insist that others do as you do.
Unfortunately those who scream and shout about animal products are doing a great favor for the agri-industries. We saw that last November in Ohio when the Farm Bureau painted the Humane Society, Peta and the vegetarians as lunatic fringe. Issue 2 passed overwhelmingly.
Here is a book you should read to get a better picture of real farming and real farmers: Deeply Rooted by Lisa Hamilton.
I would also suggest that you and Mr. Foer do a little more research regarding Niman Ranch. They, Bill and Nicolette Cohen, are not as pure as they have convinced the gullible public that they are. Environmentalists and animal rights people should note that animals grown for Niman Ranch are often transported great distances from farm to the slaughter facility. Also, their products are transported great distances. All of this flies the face of local foods system that are trying to reduce transportation.
You might also research the writing of Temple Grandon who has done extensive research in animal behavior. She has helped to design slaughter facilities that reduce stress, fear, discomfort for animals. Yes, they will be slaughtered. Sorry, we have not devised a way to produce meat and poultry without killing the animal. Eating meat is part of western civilization. It is not a sin.
There are other kinds of slaughter that do not have to be. Clevelanders are certainly familiar with the slaughter, literal and figurative, that occurs daily in our inner cities. People kept in public housing much like animal confinement are destroyed over a period of time or perhaps instantly by a gun. This is much more disturbing to me that humane animal slaughter. Fourteen- and 15-year-old children having babies is cruel. Often these lives will be lost in the welfare system created by the liberals and often supported by the same kinds of folks who shout about animal rights.
Do I eat meat? Yes, I do. Three or four times per week I enjoy beef, lamb, pork, chicken or venison. I have a large freezer in my basement and it is full of products purchased directly from farms where humane animal welfare is evident and respect for the environment is of high priority and my health, the health of the eater, is part of the system.
Finally, we should all rethink "animal rights," which do not exist. Animals have no rights. Animals cannot decide how they will live or what they will eat or how they will be treated in the slaughter facility. It is because they cannot make decisions — other than following instinct — that we are compelled to treat them with care.
I'll wait for your review of Deeply Rooted and perhaps a book by Temple Grandon. You won't find the typical Cleveland Scene vocabulary of obscenities but perhaps you'll be able to work some of your vocabulary into the review. You can end the review by saying: Hey, dude, this fucking shit is awesome. Like really kick-ass.
Parker Bosley was owner and chef of Parker's New American Bistro in Cleveland, which closed in 2007, and an early leader in the sustainable food movement.