Five Legal Foods Just As Cruel As Foie Gras

Wikimedia contributor David Monniaux, via Creative Commons

See also:

-Get Foie Gras--On Your T-Shirt
-Foie Gras Lovers, Haters, Fought for Foie Last Night at Haven Gastropub Foie Dinner
-Farewell To Foie: Everyone Gets a Pound of Foie Gras at The Playground's $130 Dinner Event

"Foie gras is cruel. Those poor ducks."

The anti-foie gras people, of course, don't want to ban just foie gras. Many of them would like to ban meat altogether as cruel, forcing everyone to espouse a vegetarian diet. While there's nothing wrong with being vegetarian, let's not pretend that vegetables just magically spring up out of the ground and fly with magic dust through the air to your crisper drawer. There's a human cost to any food, and the larger the production, the higher the human cost. Here are five examples.

5. Sugar


Where do you suppose the first people kidnapped from Africa were put to work? Not in cotton fields in Alabama. Not in rice paddies in South Carolina. No, American slavery started with sugar, and while outright slavery in the Caribbean is relatively rare, a lot of sugar involves working conditions that would shock even the most hardened American social worker.

4. Lettuce


When you look at a bag of commercial lettuce, you probably just see some rapidly wilting leaves acting in concert to create that inimitable stench that you get from opening the bag. When I look at a bag of commercial lettuce, I remember the time I broke down on some back road in the Central Valley, in 110ºF heat, next to a lettuce field full of migrant workers being paid by the piece. You can't tell me the backbreaking labor involved in large-scale lettuce harvesting is less cruel than overfeeding ducks.

3. Chocolate

Guess what, Californians? Chocolate doesn't grow here, or in social welfare-oriented northern Europe, or Japan. Chocolate grows in the tropics, where American and European firms compete to see who can get the most cacao beans for the least money--and that means underpaid labor at best and child slave labor at worst. Oh, you don't want to pay for fair-trade chocolate?

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