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Food ethics: What species do you not want other humans to eat?

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 07:17 am
I don't object to using guns. My skepticism is a sardonic unwillingness to swallow the traditional culture schtick. As for endangered species, it is noteworthy that species diversity plunged in the Americas with the arrival of humans just as it did everywhere else. That being said, i would also point out the the Chicken Little environmentalist crowd make too much of that, though. Many of the species which disappeared around the world in the period from 25,000 to 10,000 years ago disappeared because the periglacial conditions in which they had thrived disappeared with the retreat of massive glaciation. Humans were hardly present in sufficient numbers to have made that big of a difference.

But "primitive" people have always been just as opportunistic as are the people of industrial nations. (I find the term primitive unsatisfactory and condescending, but use it faut de mieux.) Deadfalls were commonly used by them, driving herd over bluffs and then taking what they could carry away from the spontaneous abattoir at the base of the cliff. There is a park not far from where i once lived which still has the remains of the stone walls the aboriginal inhabitants had built for just that purpose--to channel the herds toward the cliff--the feature was named Stonefort by the first European settlers.

There is a particularly pernicious attitude in the United States and Canada which is, i suspect, only possible because of the guilt of contemporary Americans and Canadians. That is that the aboriginals lived in a pristine environment, with which they were in harmony, and in brotherhood with their fellow aboriginal. Both direct historical evidence as well as a good deal of inferential evidence give the lie to this. For example, when Cartier visited the valley of the St. Laurent River in what is now Canada in the 16th century, he recorded a good deal of the language spoken by the aboriginals who lived there. Subsequently, 19th century linguists, those who were in the forefront of ethnological studies, asserted that they (the aboriginals) were speaking a Huron-Iroquois language, and the inference is that Cartier arrived at the time at which the Algonquian tribes were driving the Iroquois out of Canada. When Champlain arrived three generations later, in 1608, there were no Iroquois in Canada, and the Hurons were far to the west. The Iroquois still raided into Canada, and Champlain and some of his boys joined an Ottawa war party who attacked some invading Iroquois. The Iroquois were so incensed that they pledged undying hatred of the French, and they meant it. They twice invaded French Canada, once occupying the French territory for two years, and attempting to exterminate the French.

In about 1640, as the Jesuits record, they decided that a good strategy would be to deprive the French of their income from beaver pelt and furs, and so began the systematic extermination of other tribes. The amount of success they enjoyed is just appalling. They also systematically destroyed beaver dams in an attempt to deprive their Amerindian opponents of the ability to deliver pelts to the French. This hardly coincides with the contemporarily popular view of the Amerindians living in harmony with the environment and one another. I have posted comments such as this here and elsewhere and have been vigorously attack as a racist for making such observation. Some of those objecting have been, or claimed to be, of Amerindian descent. Others just buy the whole propaganda and find my remarks offensive to political rectitude. But if you corner people on this, the best they can do is feeble claims that this was not typical--don't kid yourself, i can multiply the examples for pages and pages--and/or that the innocent aboriginals were corrupted by evil Europeans. They don't see the insult to their own ancestors in that it portrays them as naive and childlike rather than sophisticated adults like the Europeans with whom they came in contact.

I just don't buy the claim that any significant portion of these people actually are living as their ancestors did, or that they need to do so, or that they have any inherent right to do so. Some isolated parts of Papua-New Guinea are probably the last places on earth where stone age people actually live. Interestingly, it seems that when they do come into contact with other tribes, their mostly likely reaction will be to attempt to murder them.
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 02:26 pm
"It's not an issue here.....of course, some Aboriginal folk use guns....but they often use and teach traditional skills, too...and they are not endangering anything by their hunting."

Not true - the burns by the Aboriginals altered fauna and mammals populations. Some of the behaviors of the American Indians also harmed wildlife.


dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 03:19 pm
@sullyfish6,
sullyfish6 wrote:

"It's not an issue here.....of course, some Aboriginal folk use guns....but they often use and teach traditional skills, too...and they are not endangering anything by their hunting."

Not true - the burns by the Aboriginals altered fauna and mammals populations. Some of the behaviors of the American Indians also harmed wildlife.







Very likely....but, in the case of the Australian Aboriginal people, that was likely about 40,000 years ago, and things had kind of settled into a new balance.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 03:23 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
I strongly support people being able to continue aspects of traditional life, all things being equal.


so the Irish can eat lamb, because that's traditional
and the French can eat foie gras, because that's traditional

Do you have a special timeline law on this "because it's traditional" exclusion?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 03:48 pm
@ehBeth,
Well, if you look at my criteria, foi gras is out because of extreme cruelty.

I believe I said (though not sure on which thread) that I'd like to see eating animals stop....but that this was clearly not feasible at present, so, for the lamb, I'd like to ensure the happiest life, and the least painful and distressing death. I am not denying anyone lamb, so I am not quite sure where that came from, although I do not eat lamb or beef myself.

Not sure what the time line for traditional is, but I guess, to amplify more, it's in the realm of thousands of years, and it's around peoples struggling with the disintegration caused by successful invasion and wanting to preserve identity and traditional aspects to life.

My experience with it is mainly with Australian Aboriginal peoples, where it tends to mean that people with rights over, or affiliation with, a particular area of land have the right to hunt within that area species that are protected from other humans. If there is sea adjacent to that land, they also have rights over a certain area of sea.

To gain these rights, the people have to approve traditional affiliation with that land from before white invasion...so we're likely looking from in the tens of thousands of years.

In Australia, I have never seen any evidence that this hunting endangers species.

If it does so elsewhere, then by my criteria that trumps traditional rights.

I don't think lambs are endangered anywhere, are they? As a species, I mean.

Personally, I'd very much prefer that the Inuit didn't kill whales, for instance, and I hope they stop at some point.....but I think that doing so as a regular part of a diet they have followed for thousands of years has more justification than the Japanese, say, travelling thousands of miles to kill animals they don't need. Unless they are endangering the species.



What criteria do YOU have, by the way?

Do you believe in killing anything we want to?

Do you want endangered species to be protected?

Dogs?


Are YOU happy with foi gras and battery hens, or do you think there is some limit to be drawn in how we may treat animals we are going to kill?

Any ideas on how you want your meat to be killed?

Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 03:52 pm
@dlowan,
quite weasonable wabbit...
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 04:04 pm
I read something a long time ago (in the Atlantic, an article named "The Cholesterol Myth", by, I think, a Harvard researcher) detailing that Inuit/Eskimo had low instance of cardiovascular disease despite eating an immense amount of fat. Over the article's pages, he positted that the fat was eaten uncooked, thus (was it thymine? homocystine? I dunno) some nutrient that was protective was not destroyed by heat. I must have read that in the seventies...
As I remember, that author was roundly denounced at the time, and reaccepted by academic scientists some decades later. I have no idea about all that now.)

Just looked up blubber in the wiki, and here's another bit about the Innuit and whale blubber..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blubber

I agree with those who say species protection should outweigh traditional use, but see complicated issues in with that.

0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 05:24 pm
@dlowan,
Your point is very well taken, qua foi gras.

That cruelty shoud be outlawed, with severe penalty for cruelty to animals.





David
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 05:32 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:

What criteria do YOU have, by the way?

Do you believe in killing anything we want to?

Do you want endangered species to be protected?

Dogs?


Are YOU happy with foi gras and battery hens, or do you think there is some limit to be drawn in how we may treat animals we are going to kill?

Any ideas on how you want your meat to be killed?


my criteria are extremely limited

endangered species are pretty much it

why would I want dogs protected? there's a long tradition of people eating dog - I'd expect you're fine with that as well

I'm fine with other people eating foie gras. I certainly eat other duck products and other liver products - can't afford foie gras.

I don't have a problem with people eating chicken from battery-farmed hens, and probably do so on occasion. I pay some attention to sources, but don't go tremendously out of my way to source barn-raised birds. If they're available where I am, and the price is right, I'll consider them. I prefer, generally, to buy meat that has been killed and processed either by Halal or Kosher methods. Luckily for me, there is a lot of Halal meat available locally.

I have almost no sympathy for the "traditional" argument. It was argued out of me by Innu friends who found it condescending.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 01:18 am
@ehBeth,
It would be nice if you outlined the Innu argument.

Given I assume you are opposed to cruelty to your dogs, I am surprised that you appear to have no qualms re quite major cruelty to farm animals.

I would be interested, if you DO oppose cruelty to dogs, how you would be consistent in not opposing it for foi gras geese, as one example.

Or is consistency in ethical decisions not a value you hold?

If you deny that raising foi gras geese is cruel, or battery hens or piggeries, I am interested in your criteria for that judgment.

Would you consider such conditions ok for dogs or cats?

If you think they are not ok for dogs or cats, I am interested in your rationale for saying they are ok for pigs, geese and chickens.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 01:23 am
@dlowan,

I share your views concerning prohibition
of any cruelty to farm animals.





David
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  0  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 11:23 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
I would be interested, if you DO oppose cruelty to dogs, how you would be consistent in not opposing it for foi gras geese, as one example.

~~~

If you deny that raising foi gras geese is cruel, or battery hens or piggeries, I am interested in your criteria for that judgment.



don't oppose it in any general way

don't deny it
0 Replies
 
 

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