The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter

Peter Singer and Jim Mason

Rodale,  May 2006

Convenience, price, and packaging have become the driving forces behind the American diet. But what is the true cost of our day-to-day food choices?

To answer this timely and important question, coauthors Peter Singer, our most probing ethicist, and Jim Mason, an environmentally conscious writer and attorney, undertake a modern-day odyssey both shocking and illuminating. Beginning their adventure at the dinner tables of three typical families with differing tastes and grocery-shopping habits, they set out to trace the origins of the foods we eat.

Singer and Mason pursue the story with the kind of investigative and intellectual tenacity behind such landmark titles as Silent Spring and Fast Food Nation, hauling in pots from the Chesapeake Bay with a commercial crabber and dumpster diving with an urban band of "freegans." Along the way they check the validity of such labels as "Animal Care Certified," "Certified Humane," "organic," and "Fair Trade." They expose the working conditions in Southern food-processing plants as well as in other countries. They weigh the pros and cons of buying local, the complex dynamics of sustainability, the controversy over genetically modified organisms, the ethics of obesity, and the health implications of raising children vegan.

The Way We Eat concludes with five simple principles that consumers can use to make better food choices. Should we eat meat? If so, what kinds of meat are most humane to eat? What kinds of produce and dairy products? Wild fish, or farmed? Veal -- ever? Recognizing that not all of us will become vegetarians, Singer and Mason offer powerful reasons for eating more conscientiously.

hardcover | ISBN: 9781579548896 | Publication Date: May 2006

"Eating is, among other things, an ethical act. But to eat ethically requires knowledge of how our food is produced. In this well-researched and deeply troubling book, Peter Singer and Jim Mason paint a devastating portrait of the American meat industry that is bound to change the way you eat." 
--Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma

"In their new book -- commonsense in its approach, easy to read, packed with information -- Peter Singer and Jim Mason show how market forces inexorably drive farmers toward cruel practices. But their overall message is not bleak. Factory farming is under pressure to justify itself. The day may not be far when we will return to a more ethical treatment of fellow animals, and there are many practical things that ordinary consumers can do to bring that day nearer." 
--J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace and Slow Man

"An absolutely indispensable book for anyone who thinks about what they eat. Singer and Mason present a sensible, rational discussion of why we should care about what we put into our stomach -- whether for health reasons, for the environment's health, for the sake of animals, or for the people who work at producing our food. The Way We Eat is that rare combination of a lively read and thorough research and investigation. I cannot recommend it highly enough."
--Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep and Raising the Peaceable Kingdom

"No other living philosopher has had this kind of influence . . ."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Mr. Singer's influence extends to the world beyond the ivory tower partly because he writes with such lucidity and quiet passion about genuinely pressing questions." 
--The Economist

"Peter Singer may be the most controversial philosopher alive; he is certainly among the most influential."
--The New Yorker