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The Way We Eat - book review

Peter Singer and Jim Masonís new book
The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter

Link: Excerpt from The Way We Eat

When you sit down to a meal or go grocery shopping, how often do you think about the source of that food you are about to consume or purchase? Was it grown without pesticides or herbicides? Were the farm workers paid a living wage? Was the animal raised humanely? In fact, until recently we have not thought about what we eat as a matter of ethics at all, but more and more people are regarding their food choices as a form of political action.

To illustrate the issues raised by what we choose to eat, Singer, a leading ethicist and one of Time Magazineís 100 Most Influential People in 2005, along with Mason, profile three American families whose food choices exemplify a range of ethical standards when it comes to food consumption. At once a call-to-action and an effort to educate the average American consumer about the impact our food choices have on all living things, The Way We Eat is essential literature to our understanding of the ethics of eating. Below you will find some more information.

Published by Rodale
May 2006; $25.95US/$34.95CAN; 1-57954-889-X

Convenience, price, and packaging have become the driving forces behind the American diet. But what is the true cost of our day-to-day food choices?

To answer this timely and important question, coauthors Peter Singer, our most probing ethicist, and Jim Mason, an environmentally conscious writer and attorney, undertake a modern-day odyssey both shocking and illuminating. Beginning their adventure at the dinner tables of three typical families with differing tastes and grocery-shopping habits, they set out to trace the origins of the foods we eat.

Singer and Mason pursue the story with the kind of investigative and intellectual tenacity behind such landmark titles as Silent Spring and Fast Food Nation, hauling in pots from the Chesapeake Bay with a commercial crabber and dumpster diving with an urban band of "freegans." Along the way they check the validity of such labels as "Animal Care Certified," "Certified Humane," "organic," and "Fair Trade." They expose the working conditions in Southern food-processing plants as well as in other countries. They weigh the pros and cons of buying local, the complex dynamics of sustainability, the controversy over genetically modified organisms, the ethics of obesity, and the health implications of raising children vegan.

The Way We Eat concludes with five simple principles that consumers can use to make better food choices. Should we eat meat? If so, what kinds of meat are most humane to eat? What kinds of produce and dairy products? Wild fish, or farmed? Veal -- ever? Recognizing that not all of us will become vegetarians, Singer and Mason offer powerful reasons for eating more conscientiously.

Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University's Center for Human Values. He first became well knows internationally after the publication of Animal Liberation in 1975. In 2005, Time magazine named him one of the world's 100 most influential people.

Jim Mason is the coauthor of Animal Factories (with Peter Singer) and the author of An Unnatural Order: Why We Are Destroying the Planet and Each Other, which John Robbins, author of the best-selling Diet for a New America, calls "a wonderful and important book." He is also attorney and the fifth generation of a Missouri farming family.