When Jonathan Safran Foer, the American novelist, was about to become father for the first time, he started to wonder what the best way to feed his child would be, and particularly whether a human being born in the 21st century should eat animal products. Or what animal products they should eat. That question started a comprehensive research on the food industry, especially factory farming. Foer read lots of books and articles, interviewed factory farm employees, traditional husbandry farmers, slaughterhouse workers and activists. He even sneaked into a number of intensive farms to see for himself what was going on (the public is not allowed to enter the plants; his numerous requests to be admitted for visits were always ignored - not even turned down, outright ignored).
Foer claims that people nowadays consume animal products with the same type of awareness and moral responsibility of their great grandparents. Only the food industry has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Our ancestors used to eat the little meat, fish, eggs and dairy products they could procure by themselves or from their neighbours. Nowadays animals are farmed and slaughtered in huge industrialised complexes that have engineered species and procedures aimed at cutting production cost and time. Basically they are manufacturing “things” rather than raising living beings. This raises serious ethical, environmental and health questions. Those are exactly the questions Foer is trying to answer in his book.
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