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1 Home & Garden Cooking and Food- Gastronomic Literature

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The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food


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amabre, June 20, 2009 (view all comments by amabre)
When I first picked up this book I thought I already knew everything there was to know on the issue. I was wrong. Especially on the fish chapter of the book. I'm not really into fish. They're so strange, so different, but I respect them and I learned a lot about them. For instance, We share 85% of our DNA with fish (98% we share with primates). Crazy, right?

I also believed the myth that fish have a teensy memory span. Not true. Fish have a memory span of at least 3 months and probably much longer (it hasn't been tested further than three months). Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson quotes Culum Brown, (U of Edinburgh biologist) "Fish are more intelligent than they appear. In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of 'higher' vertebrates, including non-human primates."

Fish are freaky, they made no sounds but their sporadic out-of-water wriggling and flopping seem unnatural and clearly anguish-driven. The author says, "It is a bit puzzling why we feel that something not like us deserves less respect. That it's death is less troubling." Here, here. "Vegetarians" who eat fish are not vegetarians. Fish are not vegetables.

This book explores the lives of all the animals we eat. Pigs, cows, chickens. Certain chapters had me gasping with surprise which I really didn't expect. I wish it could be required reading for everyone. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that the only people that will pick it up will be vegans, vegetarians, or people already interested in vegetarianism. That's a shame because this is really good stuff.
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ann_locates, March 25, 2009 (view all comments by ann_locates)
Portland is the city of roses and wish a rose
to Jeffrey and Powells. Does not mean that this book
captures the truth. Come to the wide open prairies
and note the grass waving like an endless sea.
Does it need to be harvested and converted to protein needed to sustain life?
That is the question and won't be answered in this book. Read it and see.
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(1 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
animaladvocate, February 26, 2009 (view all comments by animaladvocate)
I'm looking forward to the release of this book. Portland is one of the most progressive cities in America, and yet the local food culture is, by and large, unable to accept veganism as a culinary moral baseline. What we have instead is the sort of culture that decries factory farming but embraces the notion of raising and slaughtering organic heirloom turkeys, provided that you're buying these turkeys from a local farmer or a locally owned store.

Although I respect certain aspects of the locavore movement, I sometimes think that this feel-good approach to the omnivore diet lulls people into thinking that the politics of food begins and ends with human health and economic considerations and environmental considerations. But where is the concern for animal rights?

Small-scale animal agriculture may be less horrific than factory farming, but it is still morally problematic. In the end, there is no such thing as humane slaughter or, to use the preferred euphemism of omnivore apologists, humane "harvest" of animals.

The American Dietetic Association has a position paper in support of veganism as a healthful diet, so we know that we don't need to eat animals or their eggs and milk in order to be healthy. What we do need is a more enlightened look at our long-standing cultural predilection for eating animal-based foods.
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Product Details

The Truth About Food
Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff
Masson, Jeffrey M.
W. W. Norton & Company
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Food of animal origin
Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.6 x 5.9 x 1 in 0.83 lb

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Related Subjects

Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature
Home and Garden » Sustainable Living » Food
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Food and Famine

The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages W.W. Norton and Co. - English 9780393065954 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Each bite of meat involves the killing of an animal that did not need to die,' Masson (When Elephants Weep) reminds readers, and if the advocacy of a completely vegan diet (neither milk nor eggs, in addition to giving up meat and fish) is not particularly new — even Masson acknowledges that he is following the path laid out by authors like Temple Grandin and Michael Pollan — the passion with which the argument is made is immediately apparent. Masson explains the scientific background in simple, effective prose, pointing to the vast environmental damage caused by the modern agriculture-industrial complex, then slams the emotional point home by underscoring the plaintive cries of a calf separated from a mother cow or the psychological stress that hens endure when thrust into small cages. Masson argues that a vegan diet is sufficient to provide us with all the nutrients we need to thrive, using his own daily menus as an example, but his most powerful argument calls upon the power of empathy and a refusal to put animals through suffering. It probably won't convert many confirmed meat eaters, but it should provoke serious deliberation about how our food choices reflect our values." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The far reaching problems caused by industrial farming are staggering and upsetting, but as Masson points out, none of it is controversial. He argues, then, that the reason these unhealthy and unethical systems persist is that the majority of people are in denial. He actually includes an entire chapter on the subject, which shows his two-pronged expertise in human psychology and animal advocacy." (read the entire review)
"Review" by , "Eat your way to Eden or Armageddon, Masson writes convincingly, but bystander status no longer applies."
"Review" by , "Masson's newest volume marshals the historic arguments against eating meat and adds to them contemporary concerns about the environment."
"Synopsis" by , 'It"s a challenge to create transformative moments with books, but [Masson] does it."Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
"Synopsis" by , The best-selling author of When Elephants Weep explores our relationship with the animals we call food.
"Synopsis" by , In this revelatory work, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson shows how food affects our moral selves, our health, and our planet. Masson investigates how denial keeps us from recognizing the animal at the end of our fork and urges readers to consciously make decisions about food.
"Synopsis" by , In this revelatory work, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson shows how food affects our moral selves, our health, and the environment. It raises questions to make us conscious of the decisions behind every bite we take: What effect does eating animals have on our land, waters, even global warming? What are the results of farming practices'"debeaking chickens and separating calves from their mothers'"on animals and humans? How does the health of animals affect the health of our planet and our bodies? And uniquely, as a psychoanalyst, Masson investigates how denial keeps us from recognizing the animal at the end of our fork'"think pig, not bacon'"and each food and those that are forbidden. The Face on intellectual, psychological, and emotional expertise over the last twenty years into the pivotal book of the food revolution.
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