Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Designing pork


Mark Bittman's food columns in the NY Times have recently taken an ethical-gastronomic angle. The issue at hand is McDonald's new requirements that its suppliers of pork  provide plans for phasing out gestation crates. Bittman writes:
This is important for the animals and for the entire meat-selling industry. Let’s start with the sows: a gestation crate is an individual metal stall so small that the sow cannot turn around; most sows spend not only their pregnancies in crates, but most of their lives. For humans, this would qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment,” and even if you believe that pigs are somehow “inferior,” it’s hard to rationalize gestation crates once you see what they look like. (For the record, defenders of the system suggest that crates prevent sows from fighting in group pens. There’s no space to argue that here, but it’s nonsense.)
This is when you come in because "designing pork" impacts our food in terms of that seldom explored food topic: animal cruelty.

Is it better to eat an animal that lives a more humane life?*
*When it comes to animal cruelty "humane" is often used as a moral standard. It brings forth this idea of happiness associated with certain rights enjoyed by humans. But how can you "humanize" the very animal you end up killing for food? The moral tension is unavoidable. It's like saying: I'll keep you "happy" until it's time for you to die so,
1- your meat tastes better,
2- I feel less guilty for eating you.