To eat or not to eat? 2

PART ONE.  ETHICAL EATING: THE THEORY

One of the latest fads of the elite who know what’s best for the rest of us is “ethical eating”.

The Financial Times recently carried a long article about it. Reviewing three books on the subject, the author, Simon Kuper, castigates us for eating beef, chicken, rice, and salad:

Suppose that you and your partner go out for dinner tonight. You order steak and salad while your partner has chicken with rice. Now inspect your plates. Your cow spent almost all its life in a shed, burping methane that heats the planet. It was then slaughtered, often incompetently: it may have been still alive when its head was skinned and its legs cut off. Your “salad”, doused in dressing, is really “fat with a little lettuce”.

Your partner’s chicken lived for six weeks, diseased and crammed so closely with other birds that it cracked several bones. After torture, came slaughter: the bird was shoved into a truck, taken to the slaughterhouse, and shackled upside down. It died screaming and excreting on itself in terror. The rice comes from plants bred by scientists in the 1960s. Both your meals are lathered in the extra fat, sugar, salt and chemicals to which you have become addicted. Enjoy your meal. …

“… if you’re self-indulgent and sadistic, and care not a whit for the planet”, is not said in as many words, but strongly implied.

The author goes on:

People are increasingly wondering whether they should enjoy today’s food.

Millions of animals experience horrible deaths after worse lives. Constantly sick, they give us our flu pandemics. They occupy and degrade nearly a third of the world’s land, use up and pollute water, and warm the planet. According to the United Nations [and who could possibly doubt them?], animal agriculture is the single biggest cause of climate change. It contributes 40 per cent more to global warming than all forms of transport combined…. Certainly, in rich countries, logic should impel us to close factory farms and turn meat back into a luxury food such as caviar and truffles, to be eaten on special occasions only. …

In the past [when the expectation of life was less than half what it is now, but let not that spoil the argument], “Americans typically chewed a mouthful of food as many as 25 times … now the average American chews only 10 times.” The industry has mastered what it calls “hedonics”: how to make food feel and taste delicious. The new food is also addictive, like drugs. … Many Americans now suffer from “conditioned hypereating”, wolfing down fat, sugar and salt as a habit.

Our betters despise us for that.

“Elites want elite foods,” the FT article asserts. “healthy ethical food.” Do they? Or do they just want the rest of us to eat saltless, unsweetened, undressed mouthfuls of hunted or gathered foods that need to be chewed 25 times?

This sort of moralizing is a great luxury. It should be classed with truffles and caviar.  At the same time, it’s all intensely puritan. The old puritans wanted to drain pleasure out of life for the good of your soul. The new puritans want to do the same for the good of your body.

Environmentalists go even further. They don’t want us to eat at all. The existence of the human race annoys them. We eat. We cook. We make things. Almost everything we do endangers the planet. The planet must be saved from us. For what? The animals, presumably.

Don’t they eat too?

Yes, but you see they’re good, we’re bad. We humans are a disgusting, cruel, greedy species that the earth and all the other creatures would be better off without.

They really do think this way.

If it were the obsession of a few madmen it would be merely a curiosity. But it is the settled opinion of thousand of our species, many of whom have the power to regulate our lives.

Since we cannot be eliminated, or not immediately, we must at least be regulated.

*

PART TWO.  HEALTHY EATING: GOVERNMENT STEPS IN

The solution that our betters propose to the “problem” of us eating what we like, is as always a collectivist one. Government should, say the food police, compel us to eat what it deems good for us, good for our health. Healthy eating by force. The new ethics.

This is from Canada Free Press, by David Pietrusza:

The Invisible Hand moves amber waves of grain from farm to factory to freezer.

We all get fed.

Until now.

This month, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand decided she would allocate another $1 billion the federal treasury on building 2,100 grocery stores nationwide. [Capitalism has been called ‘the incredible bread machine’. It works as long as it’s not interfered with. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand doesn’t know this, and wouldn’t believe or even understand it if it were spelled out for her.] She is an Obama mainstream kook. Her “Healthy Food Financing Initiative” is merely upping the ante on a proposal already found buried in Barack Obama’s 2011 budget to expend $345 billion on a similar fool’s errand.

The idea, if it may be termed that, is to provide grants and loans to fund groceries in so-called “food deserts,” areas “under-served” by the right kind of food emporia, those not providing “fresh” food and thereby fueling the national “obesity epidemic.” …

“By building new grocery stores in underserved areas across the state,” says Gillibrand, up for election this year, “we can give people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, save billions in health care costs, and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.”

Getting specific, Gillibrand estimates that her act will “create” 26,000 of those “good-paying jobs.” It’s funny how expropriating money from the private sector to fund tin-horn politicians’s hobby-horses always “creates good-paying jobs.”

Much of the rationale for combating these alleged “food deserts” relies on data as bogus as the “facts” that support the current global warming (er, excuse me, “climate change”) hysteria. Michelle Obama [she who heads the food police] has recently contended that 23.5 million people—included 6.5 million children—now live in these “food deserts,” defined by Ms. Obama as “communities without a supermarket.” Oddly enough, many of these folks are not poverty-stricken. Some are quite well to do. And thanks to the genius of Henry Ford and American capitalism many of them still own cars, so living that distance from a supermarket, translates into driving a whole 4.5 minutes more to a supermarket. …

And that translates into another federal crisis — another federal program.

But beyond jobs and geography, there is health. There is always health, nowadays.

“This initiative,” contends Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Vasquez, “is about empowering families to make healthier food choices so they live longer.” [A  perfect example of Obamaspeak, that!]

Let’s see what happens when a government “empowers” people to make the choices it wants them to make.

*

PART THREE.  NO EATING: THE END ACHIEVED

One government that tries to make the people do what it knows is best for them is in North Korea.

How has Kim Jong-il’s food solution work out for the North Koreans? These extracts come from Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick :

Kim Jong-Il had taken an even harder line against individual enterprise than his father. “In a socialist society, even the food problem should be solved in a socialist way. Telling people to solve to solve the food problems on their own creates egotism among people,” he said in a December 1996 speech, one of the few in which he acknowledged the food crisis. Other than vegetables grown at home, food was not supposed to be sold on the market. To sell rice or any other grain was strictly forbidden; North Korea considered it illegal and immoral, a stab in the heart of Communist ideology. Any private endeavor fell under the rubric of “economic crime” and the penalties could include deportation to a labor camp, and, if corruption was alleged, possible execution.

North Korea started running out of food, and as people went hungry, they didn’t have the energy to work and so output plunged even further. The economy was in free fall…

All staples are grown on collective farms. The state confiscates the entire harvest … [As famine intensified] the North Korean government offered a variety of explanations, from the patently absurd to the barely plausible. People were told [for instance] that the United States had instituted a blockade against North Korea that was keeping out food …

Enduring hunger became part of one’s patriotic duty. …

How do you tell a mother her child needs more food when there is nothing more to give? Dr Kim would write out a slip admitting the child to the hospital, knowing she had no cure for this condition. The hospital didn’t have any food either

[Many] victims of the North Korean famine … did not go passively to their deaths. When the public distribution system was cut off, they were forced to tap their deepest wells of creativity to feed themselves. They devised traps out of buckets and string to catch small animal in the field, draped nets over their balconies to snare sparrows. They educated themselves in the nutritive properties of plants. … They stripped the sweet inner bark of pine trees to grind into a fine powder that could be used in place of flour. They pounded acorns into a gelatinous paste …

North Koreans learned to swallow their pride and hold their noses. They picked kernels of undigested corn out of the [old] excrement of farm animals. Shipyard workers developed a technique by which they scraped the bottoms of the cargo holds where food had been stored, then spread the foul-smelling gunk on the pavement to dry so that they could collect from it tiny grains of uncooked rice and other edibles.

If you got out to the mountains, you could maybe find dandelion or other weeds so tasty that people ate them even in good times. Occasionally, Mrs Song [one of the author’s sources] would find rotten cabbage leaves … She would take the day’s pickings home and mix it with whatever food she had enough money to buy. Usually it was ground cornmeal – the cheap kind made from the husks and cobs. If she couldn’t afford that, she would buy a still cheaper powder made out of the ground inner bark of the pine, sometimes extended with a little sawdust. … [Nothing] could disguise the god-awful taste. She had to pound away and chop endlessly to get the grasses and the barks into a soft-enough pulp to be digestible. … All she could make was a porridge that was flavorless and textureless. … a porridge mad out of bean and corn stalks … was bitter and dry, and stuck in her throat like the twigs of a bird’s nest…

In the year after Kim Il-sung’s death the only animal product she consumed was frog… North Korea’s frog population would soon be wiped out by overhunting. …

In a famine, people don’t necessarily starve to death. Often some other ailment gets them first. Chronic malnutrition impairs the body’s ability to fight infection and the hungry become increasingly susceptible to tuberculosis and typhoid. The starved body is too weak to metabolize anti-biotics, even if they are available, and normally curable illnesses suddenly become fatal. Wild fluctuations of body chemistry can trigger strokes and heart attacks…

The killer [starvation] has a natural progression. It goes first for the most vulnerable – children under five. They come down with a cold and it turns into pneumonia; diarrhea turns into dysentery. Before the parents even think about getting help, the child is dead. Next the killer turns to the aged … then makes its way through people in the prime of their lives. Men, because they have less body fat, usually perish before women. The strong and athletic are especially vulnerable because their metabolisms burn more calories…

The killer targets the most innocent, the people who would never steal food, lie, cheat, break the law, or betray a friend. …

By 1998, an estimated 600,000 people had died as a result of the famine, as much as 10 percent of the population. … Exact figures would be nearly impossible to tally since North Korean hospitals could not report starvation as a cause of death.

Between 1996 and 2005, North Korea would receive $2.4 billion worth of food aid, much of it from the United States… While big ships laden with donated grains from the U.N. World Food Programme started docking at Chongjin’s port in 1998, the relief was off-loaded into trucks by the military and driven away. Some food reached orphanages and kindergartens, but much of it ended up in military stockpiles or sold on the black market. …

Death was a virtual certainty for people who didn’t show some private initiative. A human being needs at least 500 calories per day on average to survive; a person subsisting on a diet of what could be foraged in the woods would not survive more than three months. …

Hyuck [a homeless boy] found a small and friendly stray [dog], wagging its tail as it followed him into his friend’s yard. Hyuck shut the gate behind them. He and his friend grabbed the animal and shoved it into a bucket of water, holding down the lid. [It took about ten minutes to die.] They skinned it and barbecued it. Dog meat was part of the traditional Korean diet, but Hyuck liked animals and felt bad, though not so bad that he didn’t try it again – although by mid 1996 dogs too were scarce. …

Among the homeless population, a disproportionate number were children or teenagers. In some cases, their parents had gone off in search of jobs or food. But there was another, even stranger, explanation. Facing a food shortage, many North Koreans families conducted a brutal triage of their own households – they denied themselves and often elderly grandparents food in order to keep the younger generation alive. That strategy produced an unusual number of orphans, as the children were often the last ones left of entire families that had perished…

In the first years of the food shortage, the children at the train station survived by begging food, but before long there were simply too many of them and too few people with food to spare…

When begging failed, the children … formed themselves into gangs to steal together …

It was a dangerous life… There were strange stories going around about adults who … would drug children, kill them, and butcher them for meat. Behind the station near the railroad tracks were vendors who cooked soup and noodles over small burners, and it was said that the grey chunks of meat floating in the broth were human flesh. …

The stories got more and more horrific. Supposedly, one father went so insane with hunger that he ate his own baby. … It does appear that there were at least two cases … in which people were arrested and executed for cannibalism…

Even without cannibals … the children couldn’t survive long on the streets…

People … spoke of the large number of bodies scattered around the station and on the trains …

At the station, employees from the cleaning staff regularly made round through the public areas, loading bodies onto a wooden handcart… Some days they removed as many as thirty bodies from the station…

Why doesn’t the government just leave us alone to live our lives?” the women at the [black] market would grumble among themselves.

THAT IS THE QUESTION.

  • C. Gee

    The idea of state mandated health grocery stores opening for “business” in under-served areas is an almost perfect illustration of a cargo cult. Build a simulacrum of a market and an economy will arrive to make everyone healthy and wealthy. That we have literal cargoes of culture-imbued goods stocking the shelves further enriches the magic.

  • tyler520

    People such as Mr. Kuper are simply stupid. The meat industry horror stories peddled by PETA, vegans, et al. are getting pretty old. Humans eat meat-period. In fact, vegans have a 70% higher rate of giving birth to mentally handicapped children (which is starting to seem self-evident); vegetarians have a 40% weaker bone structure on average. A vegan co-worker of mine was actually told by doctors that he cholesterol was dangerously…low.

    If this guy was really willing to put his money where his mouth was, he would simply jump in front of a train