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THE WAY WE EAT: Why Our Food Choices Matter

Though I’ve referred to THE WAY WE EAT: Why Our Food Choices Matter (by Peter Singer and Jim Mason) a handful of times already, I have yet to post an official review, mostly because I am ambivalent.

The most appealing charactistic of the book is that, no matter what you eat, there’s fascinating, well-researched, captivatingly-presented material to make you think, and then maybe rethink the way you eat. Or not.

For anyone who’s a fan of deconstructing what we do and why, THE WAY WE EAT is a dream. Singer and Mason present three, real-life families and their diets (vegans, conscientious omnivores–if there is such a thing and I doubt it, and a family who eats the standard American diet), and then proceed to examine the validity of the rationales the individuals provide for why they eat the way they eat. Wherever you are on the spectrum, with the exception of some vegans, you may find that some beliefs you hold dear are debunked.

The belief that I held that was debunked, was something I tell people all the time: If you’re going to be an omnivore, shop at Whole Foods and you’re okay.

Oops. My bad.

In my defense, I say that to people who are NEVER going to change their eating habits, but who will change their shopping habits if given a compelling reason (other than: You get to spend three times as much for your groceries).

The reality is that many of the brands carried by Whole Foods (particularly eggs and dairy products), don’t qualify–for me–as humanely produced. And when you read Singer and Mason’s accounts of visits to farms that produce allegedly humane food, it’s difficult to trust labels, which means it’s difficult to trust the producers, and thereby nonsensical to maintain the belief that anything you buy at Whole Foods is okay.

Fortunately, after bursting your bubble regarding what you eat, why you eat it, where it comes from, and what costs (monetary, environmental, suffering) are involved, Singer and Mason do provide tips for getting what you thought you were getting before you read the book (praise God).

One thing everyone will come away with, is that we all need to do a lot more investigating about the origins of our meals. And we need to decide where our priorities lie (i.e., convenience, price, health, decreasing suffering, the environment, and eating locally are all factors that might be considered).

Regardless of what you tell yourself, what you eat communicates your priorities to the world. With your dollars, you tell the world what you think is important. What message are you sending?

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