Try potatoes. They are so easy to grow you could even grow them on Mars. I saw it on a documentary recently.
I’ll make an exception for yellowjacket wasps.
I’ve been reading that! I have had some luck with potatoes here on Earth, but I have to pick the Colorado Potato Beetles off and squish them every day. And whenever it rains it washes the diatomaceous earth off, so I have to check under every leaf for CPB egg masses, and squish them too. Otherwise the bugs kill the plants before I get any harvest… ethical, organic agriculture is hard. (At least for me, anyway, even though I have advantages others don’t.)
My garden is in a large bamboo-and-recyled-wire cage; anything that sticks out gets gnawed off by deer, racoons, turtles and groundhogs. If I were cultivating enough food to feed my family, I’d probably have to kill a couple dozen deer every year just to overcome their crop destruction. I wouldn’t be able to maintain a perimeter any other way.
That is an interesting paper for its brief survey of some of the problems with agribusiness, but I think it comes across as a somewhat disingenuous thought experiment, mainly for two reasons: by reducing the concept of harm from including quality of life to merely counting deaths, it doesn’t address the day-to-day suffering, which is really quite astonishing, endured by factory farm animals (compared with field animals or even hunted animals, who live more or less as they please up until the very end); and it proposes yet another alternative food production system that is unlikely to be adopted, without an interim solution.
More generally, the paper doesn’t address a multitude of other problems, not all of them related to the Least Harm Principle, which include the abuse of human agricultural labor (a problem with nearly all agribusiness models), the use of growth hormones and other harmful substances in the raising of farm animals, and the environmental impact of raising beef as Davis suggests and as is currently practiced (e.g. the resulting greenhouse gas emissions, which are already considerable).
There are a few other problems as well, but Davis hints at them. Rebutting the sustenance farming alternative (strangely attributed to a private exchange with a Peter Cheeke), he writes that “land is concentrated in the hands of the few rather than many, and social systems would need to revert to those of primitive cultures” (392). Here, Davis touches on the fundamental problem with factory or industrial farming: it is premised on the extreme concentration of land and agricultural production, which is arguably the root of all food evils. The fencing of the commons and the sometimes gradual, sometimes rapid concentration of arable land ownership that takes place in capitalist development (still unfolding in China, for example) deprives human populations of the means of sustenance, creating a large, landless population with nothing to sell but its labor (famously discussed in Marx’s Capital). Even so, as recent as a hundred years ago or so, most people in the US still farmed for a living. The US at the close of the 19th century could hardly be described as a “primitive culture.” However, Davis deserves a little credit for at least acknowledging the extreme difficulty in addressing our agricultural ills.
While I don’t pretend to believe that, by abstaining from purchasing animal products whenever possible, I am “doing my part” to make the world a better place (for that, we need radical and systematic change, not so-called soft boycotts), I at least do what I can given the options available to me rather than posing cynical thought experiments like Davis. This was the context of my original admonishment of meat eaters who express disdain for bull fights.
Re: gardening and pests, if I were in a position to garden seriously again, I might also consider shooting those pesky deer, although I’ve always had more trouble with squirrels. I’ve used electric fences with some success. To me, it’s important to stress material context when we are talking about how we get our food and how we relate to animals and the environment, so I feel comfortable making allowances like this; it’s hard enough growing your own food without other mammals making off with the loot!
Er - I was making a reference to the new film The Martian, but I bet they could grow there…
During the 80s and the worst times for our family, we had a very large garden. We had 3 actually. One was on a neighbors land and we split the produce with her. Grew mainly corn there. We had a large plot for potatoes and holy shit, there were a lot of potatoes. Though my dad probably just used insecticides. He was actually the County Weed Dept. person for awhile, who was responsible for noxious weed control on road ways and such as well as helping farmers with their problems.
I respect your choice for using diatomaceous earth, though. Slowly grind the bastards to death. Mwuhahahaa.
Haha that pic! I imagine the poor creatures thinking to themselves
“WTF, someone photoshopped our fucking carrion out! We’re gonna starve to death now!”
Brah a couple dozen deer an you don’t need a garden
Hey, thanks for the intelligent and considered reply. People don’t usually bother reading my links!
Fairly spoken. Personally I have quite a bit of contempt for the spectators of bullfights, although perhaps I haven’t explicitly said so up to now. As for the actual participants, again, my sympathies are with the bull… and I’ll accept your admonishment and agree that the human participants aren’t really any less callous than the rest of us are whenever we eat Corporate Food. The bandilleros and picadores are just more open with their behavior and less delusional about exactly what it entails.
I think both your criticisms and your acknowledgments of Davis’s points are well made, and I would definitely argue that the extreme concentration of land and agricultural production, to the detriment of both farm workers and consumers, is indeed “the root of all food evils”. Our culture seems to want to concentrate things that ought to be distributed, like power and food production, and distribute things that ought to be concentrated, like transportation effluvient.
Be careful you don’t over-romanticize the lives of field animals and hunted animals, though. I see both of the latter just about every day on my property, and most of them are living lives that are brutish and short, and perhaps not what they’d choose if they could, instead, live on a planet without cars, factory farms and industrial pollution. And their deaths are not suitable for Disney, in most instances; more than once I’ve ended the suffering of an animal that would have otherwise been in agony for days, while predators waited patiently (although admittedly that’s generally due to cars).
I’m a pantheist and I believe time is a subjective experience without objective reality, so you can understand that my concerns for the well-being and ethical treatment of others are very wide-ranging, and obviously include both plants and insects. Like you, though, I think inflicting unnecessary suffering is evil, and that the level of systemic cruelty that our existing culture entails is unconscionable. So we’re more in agreement than not.
Me too, I’m reading it! Don’t tell me how it ends, he just got to the second lander.
I won’t. But I can’t wait for the Venusian! (Venutian?)
I don’t have my sirloin tortured first.
I am a meat eater for health reasons. The Hydrochloric acid in my gut is there for precisely that reason.
And when I see MMA advertised I think how much better it would be if the winner had to fight a lion next.
Now THAT would be sport.
A little bit of self- loathing goes a long way.
The big hat is essential.
It is nearly impossible to be alive without consuming some other form of life. I will eat vat-meat when it is available but currently become quite ill if I exclude it from my diet (which is not to say that I would chose to do so anyway, just that I have tried). Let’s just say I am a human in the world and am aware of the complexities of morality concerning the eating of meat and leave that part of the discussion there.
The ethical treatment of animals whilst they are alive seems to be more germane to the topic here. Specifically, the torture of animals.
And whilst I agree that factory farming and unethical slaughterhouses still dominate the market I am by no way attempting to minimise the extent of such proliferation.
Someone who says ‘not always’ is not minimising anything, in fact they are drawing attention to the ‘always’ condition with such a phrase.
Your conflation of abuse and slaughter comes from a perspective of a proselytising ideologue (I understand the irony of this sentence).
Be careful that in promotion of your meme-plex of choice, you do not take care to delineate torture from death and lose the perception of moral high ground on the important battles that might be won with a populace of vastly more omnivores than vegans.
But I am amenable to some of your points.
My kiwi friends were confused when I explained the hog hunting I’d done in the Southeast.
“You used a gun, mate? Why not just bring some dogs and a good knife?” And having watched videos of the kiwi method, I’ve got to say it’s a hell of a lot more exciting.
I’d argue that human participants in bullfights are MORE callous than the rest of us factory-farm-fed schlubs, in that while most of us meat eaters are aware that factory farming doesn’t lead to the best environment for animals, we’re also not actively watching (and cheering on) the torture of the animals that we end up eating.
I kinda liked the original UFC concept, where you’d have like a boxer fighting a sumo wrestler. Now it’s just various forms of judo, mostly, and I find it kinda boring whenever I end up somewhere that it’s on.
Well, do note the distinction I made between participants and spectators. If I had to make a ladder of callousness I’d put bullfight spectators on a higher rung than factory-farm-fed schlubs like you and I, but I’d put the actual bullfighters well below us. At least the bullfighters are doing their own dirty work and taking some risk. The bull has a chance to make a final stand that a hamburger doesn’t, and I’m a sucker for that sort of thing…
Fair enough, I didn’t note that distinction. I’d personally put the bullfighters above both us and the spectators, as they torture and kill animals for a living, by choice. They are professional animal torturers. The fact that they are “doing their own dirty work” doesn’t really make it any better, in my eyes.
“Houston, it’s getting warm in here.”
“Aaaannnndd we lost signal from the lander.”
Because killing an animal for food (which is happening every second, right now, across the globe and is a perfectly natural thing) is the same as killing an animal for fun. Got it.
Does that take into account all the insect life killed by growing plants which are then fed to the animals which are then fed to the humans? (Hint: it takes many multiples of plants to feed animals rather than just feed people directly.)
It’s like “researchers” never learned factoring in math.