Hailed as a classic when initially published in 1961, Eat Not This Flesh was the first book that explored, from a historical and cultural perspective, taboos against eating certain kinds of flesh. Frederick J. Simoons's research remains original and invaluable, the only attempt of its kind to reconstruct the origin and spread of food avoidances while challenging current Western explanations. In this expanded and updated edition, Simoons integrates new research as he examines the use and avoidance of flesh foods—including beef, pork, chicken, and eggs, camel, dog, horse, and fish—from antiquity to the present day.
Simoons suggests that Westerners are too ready, even in the absence of supporting evidence, to cite contemporary thinking about disease and environmental factors to explain why certain cultures avoid particular kinds of meat. He demonstrates how historical and archaeological evidence fails to support such explanations. He examines the origin of pork rejection in the Near East, explores the concept of the sacred cow in India and the ensuing ban on beef, and reveals how some African women abstain from chicken and eggs, fearing infertility.
While no single explanation exists for food taboos, Simoons finds that the powerful, recurrent theme of maintaining ritual purity, good health, and well-being underlies diet habits. He emphasizes that only a full range of factors can explain eating patterns, and he stresses the interplay of religious, moral, hygienic, ecological, and economic factors in the context of human culture. Maps, drawings, and photos highlighting food avoidance patterns in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific provide additional information throughout the book.
What is meat? Is it simply food to consume, or a metaphor for our own bodies? Can “bloody” vegan burgers, petri dish beef, live animals, or human milk be categorized as meat? In pursuing these questions, the contributors to Meat! trace the shifting boundaries of the meanings of meat across time, geography, and cultures. In studies of chicken, fish, milk, barbecue, fake meat, animal sacrifice, cannibalism, exotic meat, frozen meat, and other manifestations of meat, they highlight meat's entanglements with race, gender, sexuality, and disability. From the imperial politics embedded in labeling canned white tuna as “the chicken of the sea” to the relationship between beef bans, yoga, and bodily purity in Hindu nationalist politics, the contributors demonstrate how meat is an ideal vantage point from which to better understand transnational circuits of power and ideology as well as the histories of colonialism, ableism, and sexism.
Contributors. Neel Ahuja, Irina Aristarkhova, Sushmita Chatterjee, Mel Y. Chen, Kim Q. Hall, Jennifer A. Hamilton, Anita Mannur, Elspeth Probyn, Parama Roy, Banu Subramaniam, Angela Willey, Psyche Williams-Forson
From large-scale cattle farming to water pollution, meat— more than any other food—has had an enormous impact on our environment. Historically, Americans have been among the most avid meat-eaters in the world, but long before that meat was not even considered a key ingredient in most civilizations’ diets. Labor historian Wilson Warren, who has studied the meat industry for more than a decade, provides this global history of meat to help us understand how it entered the daily diet, and at what costs and benefits to society.
Spanning from the nineteenth century to current and future trends, Warren walks us through the economic theory of food, the discovery of protein, the Japanese eugenics debate around meat, and the environmental impact of livestock, among other topics. Through his comprehensive, multifaceted research, he provides readers with the political, economic, social, and cultural factors behind meat consumption over the last two centuries. With a special focus on East Asia, Meat Makes People Powerful reveals how national governments regulated and oversaw meat production, helping transform virtually vegetarian cultures into major meat consumers at record speed.
As more and more Americans pay attention to the sources of the meat they consume, Warren’s compelling study will help them not only better understand the industry, but also make more informed personal choices. Providing an international perspective that will appeal to scholars and nutritionists alike, this timely examination will forever change the way you see the food on your plate.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, factory slaughterhouses replaced the hand-slaughter of livestock by individual butchers, who often performed this task in back rooms, letting blood run through streets. A wholly modern invention, the centralized municipal slaughterhouse was a political response to the public's increasing lack of tolerance for "dirty" butchering practices, corresponding to changing norms of social hygiene and fear of meat-borne disease. The slaughterhouse, in Europe and the Americas, rationalized animal slaughter according to capitalist imperatives. What is lost and what is gained when meat becomes a commodity? What do the sites of animal slaughter reveal about our relationship to animals and nature? Essays by the best international scholars come together in this cutting-edge interdisciplinary volume to examine the cultural significance of the slaughterhouse and its impact on modernity.
Contributors include: Dorothee Brantz, Kyri Claflin, Jared Day, Roger Horowitz, Lindgren Johnson, Ian MacLachlan, Christopher Otter, Dominic Pacyga, Richard Perren, Jeffrey Pilcher, and Sydney Watts.
In addition to being one of the United States' largest pork producers, North Carolina is home to a developing niche market of pasture-raised pork. In Real Pigs Brad Weiss traces the desire for "authentic" local foods in the Piedmont region of central North Carolina as he follows farmers, butchers, and chefs through the process of breeding, raising, butchering, selling, and preparing pigs raised on pasture for consumption. Drawing on his experience working on Piedmont pig farms and at farmers’ markets, Weiss explores the history, values, social relations, and practices that drive the pasture-raised pork market. He shows how pigs in the Piedmont become imbued with notions of authenticity, illuminating the ways the region's residents understand local notions of place and culture. Full of anecdotes and interviews with the market's primary figures, Real Pigs reminds us that what we eat and why have implications that resonate throughout the wider social, cultural, and historical world.
It’s been 111 years since the publication of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking book on the cattle industry. Though improvements in animal welfare have been made since then, the industry has evolved to include issues Sinclair could never have foreseen. In What’s the Matter with Meat, Katy Keiffer leads readers though a crash course on how this powerful multinational business has been able to generate such a bountiful supply of absurdly cheap animal proteins.
What’s the Matter with Meat? explores everything from labor issues to genetic manipulation to animal welfare to environmental degradation, illustrating just how the industrial model for meat production conjures up huge quantities of cheap meat even as it shifts many of the real costs onto the taxpayer. She describes practices few of us know about, such as land grabs in which predator companies acquire property in foreign countries for meat production, often driving out local farmers. She shows how industry consolidation entrenches cost-effective but harmful practices, creating monopolies that force competitors out of business, drive down labor costs, erode workers’ rights, and exert extraordinary power over nearby communities.
Keiffer demonstrates with irrefutable force that the current model for meat production—adopted worldwide—is simply not sustainable and will soon exhaust the planet’s resources. A hard-hitting critique of the meat industry and its harmful effects, this book shows us just how important it is to care about where our food comes from, to support alternative production systems, and to stop those practices that are ruining our planet in the service of the burger and the nugget.