Poethics of food

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What are your ethics when it comes to food? Is there an honourable way to kill an animal, or does all meat eating rely on merciless acts of anthropocentric violence? Do you believe that both factory farms and traditional cultures' treatment of animals for meat production belong to the same dirty moral code? Where do you cross the line in terms of killing non-human nature? Is pulling a carrot out of the ground a better sort of violence, committed upon hundreds of microorganisms, than pulling a fish out of water? At what point does sentient non-human nature begin and end for you?

Earlier this week I left the following comment on a vegan blogsite whose authors moderate their comments. It thus far has not been published and therefore I wonder whether this discussion could take place elsewhere, such as here, now, with you?

i've been enjoying your blog and watching your transitions with great interest. i and my family are doing similar things here in central victoria. we do however have quite a different view when it comes to certain foods, which i wish to speak to here if i may.

i tend to take my lead from traditional communities when it comes to food, and i read every industrialised and transported carrot, synthetic consumable or rump steak as an abuse on the landbase and upon non-human nature.

growing our own food is probably the most beautifully loaded thing we can do. growing food while repairing the landbase is the most essential thing i've ever done. in our household we eat a little meat for protein and simple joy. it is always local. we occasionally catch redfin (english perch) out of the nearby lake. and whereas, i find fishing for recreation a pretty cruel endeavour, i don't when it comes to survival. i watch our chooks eat worms, fish remains or dead mice for protein and i tend to follow their lead as much as possible as they free-range over several neighbouring properties, living a life i cld only wish for in terms of carefreedom. we provide our chooks with shelter, warmth, love and protection from foxes. they in turn provide us with eggs, manure and joy. we are in a reciprocal relationship with them specific to a permaculture.

factory farms are a telling pathology of civilisation. living in some form of natural order alongside or directly with non-human nature is for me being led by nature, not human ideology or growth economics. this is why i supplement my diet with our eggs and a little local meat. ideally i wld like to get my protein just from roadkill, which attends to my relationship with anthropogenic waste. i do use roadkill in my compost as a starter, like a leaven.

i've never worked out why most vegans i meet see carnivores as having the same dirty moral code. it seems to speak out against one of the most sustainable human cultures ever to inhabit the earth – indigenous australians. their aquaculture, agricultures (yams in these parts) and hunting methods enabled an unprecedented permanent culture.

one of my great problems with western veganism is that it seems to come from an urban disembodiment. it seems to me like a mediation, rather than an ethic that is gleaned through active biomimicry.

these are a few of my thoughts thus far. your thoughts/ comments/ critique of them might prove to be a valuable discussion.

yours in congenial anarchism,



ianr said...

great letter on vexed issue patrick! ian

Anonymous said...

hi patrick

thanks for the invite. i might just post a link. i saw the australian film 'winter harvest' at cinematheque a while back - and recommend it if you haven't seen it and get the chance. i'm vegetarian and found some of it very hard to watch (the slaughter of a pig), but i think as an indictment against the industrial production of food (meat in particular), and as a call for, um, slow food, i guess, it's very convincing. it was made in 1979 in dandenong! - some info here:



Anonymous said...

Its all very complicated isn't it? I think we all need to make our own t-shirts branding ourselves and being very specific about the belief systems we are in agreement with, and clear about the reasoning behind our own practices. This is my draft t-shirt.
moving towards vegetarian
(enjoy eating the happy duck that was killed by a neighbour, but can't actually do the killing myself because i love their little faces too much. wanting to reduce the amount of ducks i eat, because i understand how long, and how many resources it takes my neighbour to raise one, and that i should be able to kill it if i am willing to eat it.)end t-shirt. oooh, look at that... its a fashionably long t-shirt i guess.

Umatji said...

Yes. Bit early in the morning for me to write anything very deep but - yes!
As a vego that eats sea found and river found fish, I do find it hard. However - I have continued to buy local organic meat for my boys so they can come to their own position in time and have open taste buds to make that choice. I think raising small children vego has it's issues in terms of diet but my main concern is actually that tastes not introduced early tend to never be appreciated - easier to drop tastes than gain them it seems. So he meat eats occasionally on that front.
Aaah, right - that just sucked the juice out of my brain for the next hour!
Great post.

Permapoesis said...

thanks for the comments. yes, vexed ianr!

will hunt down 'winter harvest' tim. sounds good and tasty.

great to start with food and end up with textiles anon anon – some seasonal tees here. nicely written gaf.

but this is all in transition...

and yes, i hear you umatji, i work as a carpenter for about half the year. if i was purely a poet i cld probably survive on veg alone.

Permapoesis said...

the conversation continues on the blog that i originally left my comment on.

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