Monday, May 03, 2010

Click Clack Moo on a Bun

I subscribe to the Horn Book; one thing I like is that some of its content is online, some just for those who get the actual magazine.

This month's must read, what do you think, article: Eating Reading Animals by Jennifer Armstrong. In a nutshell: children's book people should be vegetarians. "So what I am suggesting is that if you love children’s literature, you cannot kill animals just because they taste good on a bun. There’s more than a bit of hypocrisy involved in urging children to empathize with pandas and polar bears and bunnies and ducks in books and at a distance and then feeding them hamburgers and sliced deli meats."

Personally, I disagree with Armstrong's thesis. I will say this: it is well written, firmly grounded in examples and references, and is an excellent example of persuasive writing.

Armstrong says, "We’re not looking for mindless obedience; we are looking for the critical thinking that makes moral and ethical evaluations, and we have to model that for children with our own critical thinking and our actions."

And I'm exercising my critical thinking to say interesting, provoking article. And my critical thinking leads me to say "yes" to eating meat.

The Horn Book doesn't allow comments for individual articles; but you can comment a-plenty at Read Roger, the Horn Book blog.

Edited to Add:

Part of me wishes I had taken more time to critique Armstrong's article. Oh well. I cannot believe I missed the chance to talk about, well, what if you're it's farm raised not factory raised? What about hunting? And why is their only one correct ethical answer?

Other people had more fun with the article! Lisa Brown and Adele Griffith creates the perfect read along recipes at (Eating) (Reading) Preparing Animals at Red Room.

At Educating Alice, Monica Edinger ponders the cultural implications of Armstrong's essay, especially as they apply to cultures without access to food. Is vegetarianism more about the wealth of a nation? So then can it be ethical if its tied to prosperity? To go on a bit of a sideline, it also makes me wonder about the "all organic" movement. I've read The Long Winter; before we could freeze and store food beyond their "fresh" date, people starved and suffered terribly from bad nutrition, especially in those areas that had seasons with no fresh food.

If I find more posts, I'll add the links.

Fuse #8 touches on the article and remembers Horn Book's essay on hunting in children's books.

Eva's Book Addiction asks, Would You Eat Wilbur? Why does no one ask, "will you not exterminate Templeton?" Oh, yeah. Cause rats are yucky. Anyway, Eva writes about the children who stop eating bacon because of books/movies with cute animals, and wonders about all the "save the Turkey" Thanksgiving books. What I find especially fascinating is the assumptions made about actions in the comments.

And ForwordsBooks for the win, in the sense that she wrote the post that best reflects my thoughts about food and ethics. I feel guilty for the amount of processed food I eat; and for not being more aware of who grows and raises my food; and for fast food. But its a good, I should be healthier guilt. I feel no guilt for eating meat -- tho, truth be told, as with veggies and fruits, I should start looking at who raises it and how.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Peaceful Reader said...

I kind of agree with the article but I wasn't much of a meat-eater before I read the article either!

Liz B said...

I could have been more specific but was rushed. Are there great reasons for being a vegetarian? Yes. Are there great reasons for being more conscious of how the food we eat gets to our table? Yes.

Being part of the children's book world? Because picture books have animals? Not a reason.

And I disagree that in and of itself, being a vegetarian is a higher ethical choice.

yabetsy said...

While I am not a vegetarian, I can say that I know where meat comes from. I spent summers as a tween on a working farm. I now make a conscious effort to buy organic food and meat from local markets. I do not believe that my eating meat makes me any less ethical. Wilbur wasn't a pet.

Amanda C. Davis said...

There are good arguments for vegetarianism. That humans are capable of personifying animals is not one of them. I accuse my houseplants of going dry on purpose, occasionally make my sandwiches talk to me, and used to have a pet rock.

Ken Henson said...

I'd wager that a child's empathy is cheapened when they eat a ham sandwich after falling in love with Wilbur the pig.

I thought this was a particularly strong passage: "But we can live the lessons we see in children’s books every day. Be kind to animals. Protect the defenseless. Don’t take advantage of, trick, or do violence to those who are weaker than you or who lack opposable thumbs and powerful frontal lobes. Uphold justice by speaking up when you see injustice. Extend your loyalty not just to your family, your church, your race, your country, and your ethnicity but to all living things."