its a one essay exam but came with 2 articles the first article is about “The Omnivores Dilemma
(excerpt from The Anxiety of Eating & The Ethics of Eating Animals) Michael Pollan.
and the second article is (Consider the Lobster (an excerpt)
David Foster Wallace). you have to read both articles and write one essay combining both articles basically turning them into a one essay 2 to 3 page. i’m a send you both articles. the first one is mostly about the dilemma of an amnivore, vegetarians and vegans this it’s bad to eat animals.
and the second one is kinda a similar but it mostly talks about lobsters.
The Omnivores Dilemma
(excerpt from The Anxiety of Eating & The Ethics of Eating Animals) Michael Pollan
Being an omnivore occupying a cognitive niche in nature is both a boon and a challenge, a source of tremendous power as well as anxiety. Omnivory is what allowed humans to adapt to a great many environments all over the planet, and to survive in them even after our favored foods were driven to extinction, whether by accident or because of our own too-great success in overcoming other species defenses. After the mastodon there would be the bison and then the cow; after the sturgeon, the salmon, and then, perhaps, some novel mycoprotein like quorn.
Being a generalist offers us deep satisfactions, too, enjoyments that flow equally from the omnivores innate neophilia the pleasure of variety and neophobia the comfort of the familiar. What began as a set of simple sensory responses to food (sweet, bitter, disgusting) weve elaborated into more complicated canons of taste that afford us aesthetic pleasures undreamed of by the koala or cow. Since everything that is edible is at the mercy of his vast appetite, [Jean Anthelme] Brillat-Savarin writes, the machinery of taste attains a rare perfection in man, making man the only gourmand in the whole of nature. Taste in this more cultivated sense brings people together, not only in small groups at the table but as communities. For a communitys food preferences the strikingly short list of foods and preparations it regards as good to eat and think represent one of the strongest social glues we have. Historically, national cuisines have been remarkably stable, and resistant to change, which is why the immigrants refrigerator is the very last place to look for signs of assimilation.
Yet the surfeit of choice that confronts the omnivore brings stresses and anxieties also undreamed of by the cow or the koala, for whom the distinction between The Good Things to Eat and the Bad is second nature. And while our senses can help us draw the first rough distinctions between good and bad foods, we humans have to rely on culture to remember and keep it all straight. So we codify the rules of wise eating in an elaborate structure of taboos, manners, and culinary traditions, covering everything from the proper size of portions to the order in which foods should be consumed to the kinds of animals it is and is not okay to eat. Anthropologists argue over whether all these rules make biological sense some, like the kosher rules, are probably designed more to enforce group identity than to protect health. But certainly a great many of our food rules do make biological sense, and they keep each of us from having to confront the omnivores dilemma every time we visit the supermarket or sit down to eat.
The set of rules for preparing food we call a cuisine, for example, specifies combinations of foods and flavors that on examination do a great deal to mediate the omnivores dilemma. The dangers of eating raw fish, for example, are minimized by consuming it with wasabi, a potent antimicrobial. Similarly, the strong spices characteristic of many cuisines in the tropics, where food is quick to spoil, have antibacterial properties. The meso- American practice of cooking
!1 of !4
corn with lime and serving it with beans, like the Asian practice of fermenting soy and serving it with rice, turn out to render these plant species much more nutritious than they otherwise would be. When not fermented, soy contains an antitrypsin factor that blocks the absorption of protein, rendering the bean indigestible; unless corn is cooked with an alkali like lime its niacin is unavailable, leading to the nutritional deficiency called pellagra. Corn and beans each lack an essential amino acid (lysine and methionine, respectively); eat them together and the proper balance is restored.
Guided by no natural instinct, the prodigious and open-ended human appetite is liable to get us into al sorts of trouble well beyond the stomachache. For if nature is silent whats to stop the human omnivore from eating anything including, most alarmingly, other human omnivores? A potential for savagery lurks in a creature capable of eating anything. If nature wont draw a line around human appetite, then human culture must step in, as indeed it has done bringing the omnivores eating habits under the government of all the various taboos (foremost the one against cannibalism), customs, rituals, table manners, and culinary conventions found in every culture. There is a short and direct path from the omnivores dilemma to the astounding number of ethical rules with which people have sought to regulate eating for as long as they have been living in groups.
The first time I opened Peter Singers Animal Liberation I was dining alone at the Palm, trying to enjoy a rib-eye steak cooked medium rare. If that sounds like a recipe for cognitive dissonance, if not indigestion, well, that was sort of the idea. It had been a long time since this particular omnivore had felt any dilemma about eating meat, but then I had never before involved myself so directly in the process of turning animals into food: owning a steak-bound steer, working the killing cones in Joel Salatins processing shed, and now preparing to hunt a wild animal. The steak dinner in question took place on the evening before steering number 534s slaughter, the one event in his life I was not allowed to witness or even learn anything about, save its likely date. This didnt exactly surprise me: The meat industry understands that the more people know about what happens on the kill floor, the less meat theyre likely to eat. Thats not because slaughter is necessarily inhumane, but because most of us would simply rather not be reminded of exactly what meat is or what it takes to bring it to our plates. My steak dinner, eaten in the company of the worlds leading philosopher of animal rights, represented my somewhat tortured attempt to mark the occasion, and to try a bit belatedly, I know to see if I could defend what I had done already and what I was about to do.
Eating meat has become morally problematic, at least for people who take the trouble to think about it. Vegetarianism is more popular than is has ever been, and animal rights, the fringiest of fringe movements until just a few years ago, is rapidly finding its way into the cultural mainstream. Im not completely sure why this should be happening now, given that humans have been eating animals for tens of thousands of years without much ethical heartburn. Certainly there have been dissenters over the years Ovid, St. Francis, Tolstoy, and Gandhi some to mind. But the general consensus has always been that humans were indeed omnivores and, whatever spiritual or moral dilemmas the killing and eating of animals posed, our various cultural traditions (everything from the rituals governing slaughter to saying grace before the
!2 of !4
meal) resolved them for us well enough. For the most part, our culture has been telling us for millennia that animals were both good to eat and good to think.
In recent years medical researchers have raised questions about the good to eat part, while philosophers like Singer and organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have given us new reasons to doubt meat is good to think that is, good for our souls or our moral self-regard. Hunting is in particularly bad odor these days, even among people who still eat meat; apparently its the fact of killing that these people most object to (as if steak should be gotten any other way), or perhaps its the taking pleasure in killing an animal that is the trouble. It may be that as a civilization were groping toward a higher plane of consciousness. It may be that our moral enlightenment has advanced to the point where the practice of eating animals like out former practices of keeping slaves or treating women as inferior beings can now we seen for the barbarity it is, a relic of an ignorant past that very soon will fill us with shame.
That at least is the animal philosophers wager. But it could also be that the cultural norms and rituals that used to allow people to eat meat without agonizing about it have broken down for other reasons. Perhaps as the sway of tradition in our eating decisions weakens, habits we once took for granted are thrown up in the air, where theyre more easily buffeted by the force of a strong idea or the breeze of fashion.
Whatever the cause, the effect is an unusual amount of cultural confusion on the subject of animals. For at the same time many of us seem eager to extend the circle of our moral consideration to other species, in our factory farms were inflicting more suffering on more animals than at any time in history. One by one science is dismantling out claims to uniqueness as a species, discovering that such things as culture, tool making, language, and even possibly self-consciousness are not, as we used to think, the exclusive properties of Homo sapiens. And yet, most of the animals we eat lead lives organized very much in the spirit of Descartes, who famously claimed that animals were mere machines, incapable of thought of feeling. Theres a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals today in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of the pig an animal easily as intelligent as a dog that becomes the Christmas ham.
We tolerate this schizophrenia because the life of the pig has moved out of view; whens the last time you say a pig in person? Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible. (When was the last time you saw a butcher at work?) The disappearance of animals from our lives has opened a space in which theres no reality check on the sentiment or the brutality; it is a space in which the Peter Singers and the Frank Perdues of the world fare equally well.
A few years ago the English writer John Berger wrote an essay called Why Look at Animals? In which he suggested that the loss of everyday contact between ourselves and animals and specifically the loss of eye contact has left us deeply confused about the terms of our relationship to other species. That eye contact, always slightly uncanny, had brought the vivid daily reminder that animals were both crucially like and unlike us; in their eyes we glimpsed something unmistakably familiar (pain, fear, courage) but also something irretrievably other (?!). Upon this paradox people built a relationship in which they felt they could both honor
!3 of !4
and eat animals without looking away. But that accommodation has pretty much broken down; nowadays it seems we either look away or become vegetarians. For my own part, neither option seemed especially appetizing; certainly looking away was not completely off the table. Which might explain how it was I found myself attempting to read Peter Singer in a steakhouse.
The Omnivores Dilemma (an excerpt). The Penguin Press. New York. 2006. 295-98 & 304-07.
this is the second article
Consider the Lobster (an excerpt) David Foster Wallace
The enormous, pungent, and extremely well-marketed Maine Lobster Festival is held every late July in the states midcoast region, meaning the western side of Penobscot Bay, the nerve stem of Maines lobster industry.
Tourism and lobster are the midcoast regions two main industries, and theyre both warm-weather enterprises, and the Main Lobster Festival represents less an intersection of the industries than a deliberate collision, joyful and lucrative and loud. The assigned subject of this Gourmet article is the 56th Annual MLF, 30 July-3 August 2003, whose official theme this year was Lighthouses, Laughter, and Lobster. Total paid attendance was over 100,000, due partially to a national CNN spot in June during which a senior editor of Food & Wine magazine hailed the MLF as one of the best food-themes galas in the world. 2003 festival highlights: concerts by Lee Ann Womack and Orleans, annual Maine Sea Goddess beauty pageant, Saturdays big parade, Sundays William D. Atwood Memorial Crate Race, annual Amateur Cook Competition, carnival rides and midway attractions and food booths, and the MLFs Main Eating Tent, where something over 25,000 pound of fresh-caught Maine lobster is consumed after preparation in the Worlds Largest Lobster Cooker near the grounds north entrance. Also available are lobster rolls, lobster turnovers, lobster saut, Down East lobster salad, lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, and deep-fried lobster dumplings. Lobster thermidor is obtainable at a sit-down restaurant called the Black Pearl on Harbor Parks northwest wharf. A large all-pine booth sponsored by the Main Lobster Promotion Council has free pamphlets with recipes, eating tips, and Lobster Fun Facts. The winner of Fridays Amateur Cooking Competition prepares Saffron Lobster Ramekins, the recipe for which is now available for public downloading at www.mainelobsterfestival.com. There are lobster T-shirts and lobster bobblehead dolls and inflatable lobster pool toys and clamp-on lobster hats with big scarlet claws that wobble on springs. Your assigned correspondent saw it all, accompanied by one girlfriend and both his own parents one of which parents was actually born and raised in Maine, albeit in the extreme northern inland part, which is potato country and a world away from the touristic midcoast.
For practical purposes, everyone knows what a lobster is. As usual, though, theres much more to know than most of us care about its all a matter of what your interests are. Taxonomically speaking, a lobster is a marine crustacean of the family Homaridae, characterized by five pairs of jointed legs, the first pair terminating in large pincers claws used for subduing prey. Like many other species of benthic carnivore, lobsters are both hunters and scavengers. They have stalked eyes, gills on their legs, and antennae. There are a dozen or so different kinds worldwide, of which the relevant species here is the Maine lobster, Homarus americanus. The name lobster comes from the Old English loppestre, which is thought to be a corrupt form of the Latin word for locust combined with the Old English loppe, which means spider. […] The
point is that lobsters are basically giant sea insects. Like most arthropods, they date from the Jurassic period, biologically so much older than mammalia that they might as well be from another planet.
But they are themselves good eating. Or so we think now. Up until sometime in the 1800s, though, lobster was literally low-class food, eaten only by the poor and institutionalized. Even in the harsh penal environment of early America, some colonies had laws against feeding lobsters to inmates more than once a week because it was thought to be cruel and unusual, like making people eat rats. […] Now, of course, lobster is posh, a delicacy, only a step or two down from caviar.
As an a la carte entree, lobster can be baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, sauted, stir-fried, or microwaved. The most common method, though, is boiling. If youre someone who enjoys having lobster at home, this is probably the way you do it, since boiling is so easy. You need a large kettle w/ cover, which you fill about half full with water (the standard advice is that you want 2.5 quarts of water per lobster). Seawater is optimal, or you can add two tbsp salt per quart from the tap. It also helps to know how much your lobsters weigh. You get the water boiling, put in the lobsters one at a time, cover the kettle, and bring it back up to a boil. Then you bank the heat and let the kettle simmer ten minutes for the first pound of lobster, then three minutes for each pound after that. (This is assuming youve got hard-shell lobsters, which, again, if you dont live between Boston and Halifax is probably what youve got. For shedders, youre supposed to subtract three minutes from the total.) The reason the kettles lobsters turn scarlet is that boiling somehow suppresses every pigment in their chitin but one. If you want an easy test of whether the lobsters are done, you try pulling on one of their antennae if it comes out of the head with minimal effort, youre ready to eat.
A detail so obvious that most recipes dont even bother to mention it is that each lobster is supposed to be alive when you put it in the kettle. This is part of the lobsters modern appeal its the freshest food there is. […] So then here is a question thats all but unavoidable at the Worlds Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in kitchens across the US: Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? A related set of concerns: Is the previous question irksomely PC or sentimental? What does all right even mean in this context? Is the whole thing just a matter of personal choice?
Before we go any further, lets acknowledge that the questions of whether and how different kinds of animals feel pain, and of whether and why it might be justifiable to inflict pain on them in order to eat them, turn out to be extremely complex and difficult. And comparative neuroanatomy is only part of the problem. Since pain is a totally subjective mental experience, we do not have direct access to anyone or anythings pain but our own; and even just the principles by which we can infer that other human beings experience pain and have a legitimate interest in not feeling pain involve hard-core philosophy metaphysics, epistemology, value theory, ethics. The fact that even the most highly evolved nonhuman mammals cant use language to communicate with us about their subjective mental experience is only the first layer or additional complication in trying to extend our reasoning about pain and morality to animals.
And everything gets progressively more abstract and convulsed as we move farther and farther out from the higher-type mammals into cattle and swine and dogs and cats and rodents, and then birds and fish, and finally invertebrates like lobsters.
The more important point here, though, is that the whole animal-cruelty-and-eating issue is not just complex, its also uncomfortable. It is, at any rate, uncomfortable for me, and for just about anyone I know who enjoys a variety of foods and yet does not want to see herself as cruel or unfeeling. As far as I can tell, my own main way of dealing with this conflict has been to avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing. I should add that it appears to me unlikely that many readers of Gourmet wish to think about it, either, or to be queried about the morality of their eating habits in the pages of a culinary monthly. Since, however, the assigned subject of this article is what it was like to attend the 2003 MLF, and thus to spend several days in the midst of a great mass of Americans all eating lobster, and thus to be more or less impelled to think hard about lobster and the experience of buying and eating lobster, it turns out that there is no honest way to avoid certain moral questions.
There are several reasons for this. For one thing, its not just that lobsters get boiled alive, its that you do it yourself or at least its done specifically for you, on-site.1 As mentioned, the Worlds Largest Lobster Cooker, which is highlighted as an attraction in the festivals program, is right out there on the MLFs north grounds for everyone to see. Try to imagine a Nebraska Beef Festival2 at which part of the festivities is watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there on the Worlds Largest Killing Floor or something theres no way.
The intimacy of the whole thing is maximized at home, which of course is where most lobsters get prepared and eaten (although note already the semiconscious euphemism prepared, which in the case of lobsters really means killing them right there in our kitchens). The basic scenario is that we come in from the store and make our little preparations like getting the kettle filled and boiling, and then we lift the lobsters out of the bag or whatever retail container they cam home in … whereupon some uncomfortable things start to happen. However stuporous a lobster is from the trip home, for instance, it tends to come alarmingly to life when placed in
1 Morality-wise, lets concede that this cuts both ways. Lobster-eating is at least not abetted by the system of corporate factory farms that produces most beef, pork, and chicken. Because, if nothing else, of the way their theyre marketed and packed for sale, we eat these latter meats without having to consider that they were once conscious, sentient creatures to whom horrible things were done. (N.B. Horrible here meaning really, really horrible. Write off to PETA or peta.org for their free Meet Your Meat video, narrated by Mr. Alec Baldwin, if you want to see just about everything meat-related you dont want to see or think about. (N.B.2 Not that PETAs any sort of font of unspun truth. Like many partisans in complex moral disputes, the PETA people are fanatics, and a lot of their rhetoric seems simplistic and self- righteous. But this particular video, replete with actual factory-farm and corporate-slaughterhouse footage, is both credible and traumatizing.))
2 Is it significant that lobster, fish, and chicken are our cultures words for both the animal and the meat, whereas most mammals seem to require euphemisms like beef and pork that help us separate the meat we eat from the living creature the meat once was? Is this evidence that some kind of deep unease about eating higher animals is endemic enough to show up in English usage, but that the unease diminishes as we move out of the mammalian order? (The is lamb/lamb the counterexample that sinks the whole theory, or are there special, biblico-historical reasons for that equivalence?)
boiling water. If youre tilting it from a container into the steaming kettle, the lobster will sometimes try to cling to the containers sides or even to hook its claws over the kettles rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof. And worse is when the lobsters fully immersed. Even if you cover the kettle and turn away, you can usually hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off. Or the creatures claws scraping the sides of the kettle as it thrashes around. The lobster, in other words, behaves very much like you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water (with the obvious exception of screaming3). A blunter way to say this is that the lobster acts as if its in terrible pain, causing some cooks to leave the kitchen altogether and to take one of those little lightweight plastic oven-timers with them into another room and wait until the whole process is over.
There happen to be two main criteria that most ethicists agree on for determining whether a living creature has the capacity to suffer and so had genuine interest that it may or may not be our moral duty to consider.4 One is how much of the neurological hardware required for pain- experience the animal comes equipped with nociceptors, prostaglandins, neuronal opioid receptors, etc. The other criterion is whether the animal demonstrates behavior associated with pain. And it takes a lot of intellectual gymnastics and behaviorist hairsplitting not to see struggling, thrashing, and lid-clattering as just such pain-behavior. According to marine zoologists, it usually takes lobsters between 35 and 45 second to die in boiling water. (No source I could find talks about how long it takes them to die in superheated steam; one rather hopes its faster.)
Still, after all the abstract intellection, there remains the facts of the frantically clanking lid, the pathetic clinging to the edge of the pot. Standing at the stove, it is hard to deny in any meaningful way that this is a living creature experiencing pain and wishing to avoid/escape the painful experience. To my lay mind, the lobsters behavior in the kettle appears to be the expression of a preference; and it may well be that an ability to form preferences is the decisive criterion for real suffering.5 The logic of this (preference > suffering) relation may be easiest to
3 Theres a relevant populist myth about the high-pitched whistling sound that sometimes issues from a pot of boiling lobster. The sound is really vented steam from the layer of seawater between the lobsters flesh and its carapace (this is why shedders whistle more than hard-shells), but the pop version has it that the sound is the lobsters rabbit-like death-scream. Lobsters communicate via pheromones in their urine and dont have anything close to the vocal equipment for screaming, but the myths very persistent which might, once again, point to a low-level cultural unease about the boiling thing.
4 Interests basically means strong and legitimate preferences, which obviously require some degree of consciousness, responsiveness to stimuli, etc. See, for instance, the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1974 Animal Liberation is more or less the bible of the modern animal-rights movement:
It would be nonsense to say that it was not in the interests of a stone to be kicked along the road by a schoolboy. A stone does not have interests because it cannot suffer. Nothing that we can do to it could possibly make any difference to its welfare. A mouse, on the other hand, does have an interest in not being kicked along the road, because it will suffer if it is.
5 Preference is maybe roughly synonymous with interests, but it is a better term for our purposes because its less abstractly philosophical preference seems more personal, and its the whole idea of a living creatures personal experience thats at issue.
see in the negative case. If you cut certain kinds of worms in half, the halves will often keep crawling around and going about their vermiform business as if nothing had happened. When we assert, based on their post-op behavior, that these worms appear not to be suffering, what were really saying is that theres no sign the worms know anything bad has happened or would prefer not to have gotten cut in half.
Lobsters, though, are known to exhibit preferences. Experiments have shown that they can detect changes of only a degree or two in water temperature; one reason for their complex migratory cycles (which can often cover 100-plus miles a year) is to pursue the temperatures they like best. And, as mentioned, theyre bottom-dwellers and do not like bright light if a tank of food-lobsters is out in the sunlight or a stores fluorescence, the lobsters will always congregate in whatever part is darkest. Fairly solitary in the ocean, they also clearly dislike the crowding thats part of their captivity in tanks, since (as also mentioned) one reason why lobsters claws are banded on capture is to keep them from attacking one another under the stress of close-quarter storage.
In any event, at the MLF, standing by the bubbling tanks outside the Worlds Largest Lobster Cooker, watching the fresh-caught lobsters pile over one another, wave their hobbled claws impotently, huddle in the rear corners, or scrabble frantically back from the glass as you approach, it is difficult not to sense that theyre unhappy, or frightened, even if its some rudimentary version of these feelings… and, again, why does rudimentariness even enter into it? Why is a primitive, inarticulate form of suffering less urgent or uncomfortable for the person whos helping to inflict it by paying for the food it results in? Im not trying to give you a PETA- like screed here at least I dont think so. Im trying, rather, to work out and articulate some of the troubling questions that arise amid all the laughter and saltation and community pride of the Maine Lobster Festival. The truth is that if you, the festival attendee, permit yourself to think that lobsters can suffer and would rather not, the MLF begins to take on the aspect of something like a Roman circus or medieval torture-fest.
Does that comparison seem like a bit much? If so, exactly why? Or what about this one: Is is possible that future generations will regard our present agribusiness and eating practices in much the same way we now view Neros entertainments or Mengeles experiments? My own initial reaction is that such a comparison is hysterical, extreme and yet the reason it seems extreme to me appears to be that I believe animals are less morally important than human beings;6 and when it comes to defending such a belief, even to myself, I have to acknowledge that (a) I have an obvious selfish interest in this belief, since I like to eat certain kinds of animals and want to be able to keep doing it, and (b) I havent succeeded in working out any sort of personal ethical system in which the belief is truly defensible instead of just selfishly convenient.
Given this articles venue and my own lack of culinary sophistication, Im curious about whether the reader can identify with any of these reactions and acknowledgements and discomforts. Im also concerned not to come off as shrill or preachy when what I really am is
6 Meaning a lot less important, apparently, since the moral comparison here is not the value or one humans life vs. the value of one animals life, but rather the value of one animals life vs. the value of one humans taste for a particular kind of protein. Even the most diehard carniphile will acknowledge that its possible to live and eat well without consuming animals.
more like confused. For those Gourmet readers who enjoy well-prepared and -presented meals involving beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, lobster, etc.: Do you think about the (possible) moral status and (probable) suffering of the animals involved? If you do, what ethical convictions have you worked out that permit you not just to eat but to savor and enjoy flesh-based viands (since of course refined enjoyment, rather than mere ingestion, is the whole point of gastronomy)? If, on the other hand, youll have no truck with confusions or convictions and regard stuff like the previous paragraph as just too much fatuous navel-gazing, what makes it feel truly okay, inside, to just dismiss the whole thing out of hand? That is, is your refusal to think about any of this the product of actual thought, or is it just that you dont want to think about it? And if the latter, then why not? Do you ever think, even idly, about the possible reasons for your reluctance to think about it? I am not trying to bait anyone here Im genuinely curious.
Wallace, David Foster. Gourmet. August 2004.