Monday, July 25, 2016

People have valued meat through history . . .

Nearly every society has placed a high value on meat. . . . Although humans can satisfy all their nutritional needs by eating plants, most of us prefer not to. Instead, we feed plants to animals and then eat the animals, and we do not seem to mind that this process is costly and complicated. People have fought wars, conquered lands, destroyed landscapes, and exchanged great wealth to satisfy their deep hunger for meat. When it is scarce—and in large societies meat has been scarce until recent times—only the wealthiest eat it. When poor people begin to earn a bit more money, they spend it on meat. "Those who could, gorged themselves," one historian has written of early modern Europe. "Those who couldn't, aimed to."
Mark Essig, Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig (New York: Basic Books, 2015), Prologue (quoting Eugen Weber, A Modern History of Europe (New York: Norton, 1971), p. 202)

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