Thursday, July 31, 2014

Food and Endurance

After reading Endurance and reading though the Food Lecture, I couldn't help but draw parallels between the circumstances that drive people throughout the world to eat foods that are considered taboo here in the United States. Having a severe case of arachnophobia, I have every confidence that I will be avoiding sautéed spiders for the foreseeable future. As noted in the lecture, some likes and dislikes are caused due to exposure and cultural acceptance.
    When I dug deeper into Endurance, I found that I struggled with the mental image of not only killing dogs (particularly puppies) but also with the idea that these animals would be eaten. It became even more difficult to process these images as the crew's various journal entries described the level of attachment that had formed between the men and their dogs. But the concept of human survival began to take its toll on the pet-loving portion of my brain and made me connect-the-dots between the Food Lecture and those excerpts from Endurance. The will to survive was far greater than the attachment formed with the canines.
   The thought of passing judgment on the men stuck on the floes in the Antarctic Sea or the people digging for rats in the mud to provide a meager source of protein for their families incites a deep feeling of guilt. The guilt does not exist because I was born into a society where I am able to choose my preferential source of nutrition; but because I had the thought: Ugh! How could anyone eat those things?!
   These examples of "odd" cuisine made me really evaluate how I nourish my body and also how I think about basic, everyday necessities. Would I be motivated to eat my pet if it came down to their survival or my own? Would I be deathly afraid of spiders if my mother served them to me as a favorite snack? I grew up with an extreme aversion to any and all seafood that looked the same on the plate as it did swimming around the screen on The Little Mermaid - this sensitivity to the suffering of Sebastian the Crab may be yet another example of how our culture has shaped our food preferences? 


  1. I found the dog-killing passages in the book very disturbing as an animal lover. However, I was even more bothered that they just tossed the bodies away. They didn't have much to eat, so why did they wait until they only had a few dogs left to start eating them? Instead, they wasted a large amount of meat. Eating dog is relatively normal in many countries, and these people were using seal fat and penguins as food. Dog meat sounds more appetizing than blubber, and I'm a vegetarian!