In the last two quarters of CTW, food has been the main topic of discussion. While “This is Water,” a video based on David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech, is primarily shot in a grocery store, it actually has nothing to do with food. However, it works as the rope that ties everything from, Eating Animals to Meet Your Meat and Consider the Lobster, all together with two simple key words, awareness and choice. Wallace talks about how people tend to go through their daily routine stuck on their “natural default setting,” thinking that the whole word revolves around them. I found the video to be particularly humbling in the fact that it opens you up to the infinite possibilities of events that happen to not only yourself, but also others around you that are affecting you.
You can choose to be angry with the students cutting you in the Tapingo line, or you can realize that maybe they’re in a bigger rush or they have something more important to do than you. The video ties our other sources together by opening our eyes to how shallow we think. Every day students eagerly rush into Benson in search of a tasty meal, never stopping to think where that chicken breast, rib roast or bacon came from. All that they’re aware of is that it tastes good and it will fill them up. They don’t care that they just watched the Tailgater’s chef pull a piece of chicken, with grill marks already on it, out of a plastic bag and heated it up. There are so many things that are hidden in plain sight, but we have to stop and think more in depth before we make our choices, especially those about what we put in our bodies.
Thanksgiving for example, is a day to put on our stretchy pants and stuff our faces until the food coma settles in. If a turkey knew about Thanksgiving, would it be dreading the month of November, or be grateful that it’s finally going to get put out of its misery? At factory farms, turkeys are frequently abused and forced to live in horrible living conditions in order to supply our demand for them. According to PETA’s film, “Meet Your Meat,” the rapid growth of turkeys cause their “hearts, lungs and legs [to] break down under the added weight [making] heart attacks and crippling leg deformities far too common” (Meet Your Meat). In addition, turkeys now only know an environment that’s extremely crowded and filthy from the moment they’re hatched to the day their blood-curdling cries fill the slaughterhouse. A factory farm turkey begins its life in a huge incubator, and after a couple weeks “they are moved into filthy, windowless sheds with thousands of other turkeys, where they will spend the rest of their lives” (Investigation). PETA’s film also shows gruesome evidence of the standard way to kill sick and injured turkeys. The film shows a farmer demonstrating this process by beating turkeys with a bloodstained metal rod, leaving them still conscious, bleeding and suffering until they finally die (Meet Your Meat). Doesn’t’ quite sound like the big red barns, loving farmers, and vast fields of green that we are used to seeing on labels and commercials now does it?
As much as I love lobster, it was difficult for me to justify boiling a creature alive for my own taste preference after reading David Foster Wallace’s Essay, “Consider the Lobster.” He really emphasizes the live-cooked aspect when he says that some restaurants allow you to “pick out your supper while it watches you point” (Wallace). The worst part is that I never stopped to realize how inhumane it actually is. Much like Foer, he places some of the blame on us for knowing that it’s wrong, but doing it anyways. He also goes into the history and biology of the lobster to show that there was a time when lobster was considered prison food. He describes them as “giant sea-insects” and “garbagemen of the sea,” and also states that they are “unbelievably abundan[t]” to illustrate the reality that lobsters aren’t really a delicacy (Wallace). However, when someone mentions that they had lobster the night before, I can’t help but say, “you lucky dog.”
As people become more aware of where they’re getting their food and choosing alternatives to meat, the better our future will be. Limiting the power of factory farms and possibly growing some of our own food can provide major benefits to not only our health, but also the health of the planet and animals. My brother actually started building his own aquaponic garden in his backyard (a new way to filter and add nutrients to your plants by flowing the water through a fish tank) that can revolutionize the way we get our food. It not only provides the freshest produce, but one can also eat the fish after they get too big. It’s innovative thinking like this that sheds a positive light on the way we produce food in the future..