Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jonathan Safran Foer on What's Kosher (or Not) in the Meat Industry

If This is

I have huge respect for Jonathan Safran Foer (aside from enjoying his excellent debut novel, Everything is Illuminated). Please watch the video he put on Youtube documenting the outrageous abuses of animals by the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the world, Agriprocessors (the same sleazy outfit where hundreds of illegal latino migrants were unscrupulously arrested and summarily tried for possession of fake SS #s when many of them, often illiterate, didn't even know what a SS# was, and only knew that the company had required (very likely helped) them to acquire these documents). Even though there's some kind of annoying syncing glitch in the video, his cogent, impassioned statement on the unethical practices of this industry force us to rethink what it means to eat meat and be complicit in an industry of cruelty and death. What he is talking about is relevant for all people who consume meat--it's not just a question of whether such practices are kosher, because non-kosher meat factories are guilty of many of the same sorts of disgusting, egregious, grotesque and wanton cruelty.

I'm not saying that you can't eat meat. But if you choose to do so, I think the least you can do is be fully aware of the costs of your choices. People's blase attitude toward the unnecessary suffering of living creatures, who endure lives of incredible pain in inhumane conditions, would be harder to maintain if they were forced to face what goes on behind the scenes.

I find it grossly hypocritical that so many foreigners come to China (where animals, admittedly are seen as possessions and instruments, with little regard for their welfare and almost no conception that their lives could have anything resembling dignity) and are put off watching a peasant slaughter a chicken or pig (cows are often too expensive to use as food in rural areas) with their own hands for their own consumption, because it seems so cruel, and yet have no compunction about purchasing plastic sealed, sanitized packages of anonymous flesh from impersonal supermarkets.

If the video's not showing up here, go directly to this link: