April 13, 2012
Filed under Industrial Food
About James McWilliamsI'm a historian and writer based in Austin, Texas. This blog is dedicated to exploring the ethics of eating animals and animal-based products.
Phenomenal, thank you so much for being a voice for the voiceless, one of the most selfless actions we can take in our lifetimes !!
That’ll elicit lots of clicks and comments! I hope it will, more than anything, cause intelligent, honest people to *question* the claims of the so-called sustainable practitioners.
Why can’t I figure out HOW to comment on the NYT page, though? I’m not THAT much of a tech idiot! — or am I? 🙂
Hi Dr. Williams,
Since you write about backyard slaughter a lot, I thought you would find this news from LA to be of interest.
(Caution: Graphic video at below link. Press “pause” within the first 6 seconds to just read the accompanying text about the case.)
I am glad I read the NY Times. It brought me to your website. I am vegan and thank you for bringing to the mainstream media what we care about with such a well written Op-Ed.
Hi Dr Williams,
I just read your article in The New York Times. I was very surprised by a number of your assertions. You and I must live in very different worlds because we have come to very different conclusions.
I produce most of the food my family eats. I use permaculture, forest gardening and herding. I milk my own cow and collect eggs from my hens. I grow, slaughter and eat my animals and fowl. I do this on 0.5 acres of industrial land and 4.5 acres of brittle grasslands. I hope that my next house will be off-the-grid. Growing my family’s food is a lot of work, but I feel somehow more connected to my food when I know where it came from.
You said: “Although these smaller systems appear to be environmentally sustainable, considerable evidence suggests otherwise.” I feel sad to have my food self-sufficiency project be considered little better then industrial models. I can also see it makes you sad that I kill and eat my animals and you would rather I didn’t.
If every domesticated animal in the world disappeared tomorrow, our society would still have serious problems. People would still go hungry. Our world would still be polluted. Maybe growing my own food and dreaming about living off-the-grid will not save the world but it has changed me and changed my world. I feel grateful for every life, plant, animal and microbe, that gives its life for me to have mine. I look at my strong, healthy children and marvel at the circle of life… and death. I know one day I will be recycled too.
I do not see any reference to actual data that is publicly observable in your response to McWilliams’ statement that smaller livestock systems are still not sustainable. All I see is a reference to your own state of feeling sad. I am sure you feel sad that someone thinks that your self-sufficiency project isn’t much better than industrial models. The question is, is it true?
It’s true that the disappearance of domesticated animals would not solve the world’s problems. But over 90% of all mammals on the planet (by biomass) are humans or their livestock. “Eating Meat” (Population and Development Review 28(4):599–639, December 2002), p. 618. We are swamping the planet with livestock. If you ever wonder about biodiversity or the disappearance of habitat, that and human population is the underlying problem. We do not face a population problem, so much as a population / livestock problem.
Thank you Mr. McWilliams – I especially appreciated your eloquent summation in the last paragraph: “Opponents of industrialized agriculture have been declaring for over a decade that how humans produce animal products is one of the most important environmental questions we face. We need a bolder declaration. After all, it’s not how we produce animal products that ultimately matters. It’s whether we produce them at all.”
It’s absolutely true – The methods are unimportant. But that we do raise innocent life just to kill – That is the main point we need to take a serious look at. In my view we will never rise to our potential without shunning the violence required to take life… I’m very anxious for us to move past this needless blood-spilling phase, and on to other issue that warrant our clear heads and open hearts. Thanks for yet again exposing the myths and the mayhem.
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