|photo by H. Zell via Wikimedia Commons|
HALLIE EPHRON: Recently I read in the Huffington Post that Gwyneth Paltrow won’t eat octopus because they’re so smart. (This is what I do instead of writing my next book.)
“Octopus are too smart to be food. They have more neurons in their brains than we do. I had to stop eating them because I was so freaked out by it.” One famously escaped from its tank at the New Zealand Aquarium, slithered down a drain pipe, and returned to the ocean.
Sound flaky? Not to me. There are several foods I won’t eat because they’re too smart. Octopus. Dolphin. Guinea pig. Whale.
So why is it okay to eat dumb food but not smart food? This is a question I prefer not to ask myself.
Other foods I won’t eat for other reasons: shrimp that isn’t wild caught (they’re destroying mangroves that protect the coastline in order to farm at the little creatures and harvesting them with slave labor in Southeast Asia.) Swordfish more than a few times a year (mercury). Eggs from chickens raised in those awful cages.
What’s on your I WON’T EAT IT list, and isn’t it nice to be well-off enough to be making these kinds of choices?
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Well, I won't eat octopus because I don't like it. Calamari is too rubbery for me. I wouldn't eat anything that's endangered, and yes, there is something about dolphins that would squick me if someone put a plate in front of me.
|by Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons|
In the summertime, we get fabulously free range eggs from my friends - I can literally see their chickens free-ranging around the dooryard whenever I visit. I admit, I've been too cheap to PAY for the good, cruelty-free eggs, but you're making me re-think that, Hallie. Now the Sailor is being fed by Uncle Sam and we're eating a dozen eggs every two weeks instead of two dozen eggs per week, I could afford the more humane (and tastier) product.
Food I was really grateful to find out WASN'T endangered? Conch. I fell in love with it the first time we visited the Bahamas, and I almost didn't eat it in Key West until someone told me, no, it's okay. There are still evidently plenty of Conch in the sea.
RHYS BOWEN: We had this discussion on Easter Sunday when I always serve leg of lamb. Now neither granddaughter will eat lamb because it's... well, it's a little lamb, isn't it?
Daughter Jane and I agreed that we are coming to feel the same way about eating meat. Cows are intelligent, so are pigs. Actually we don't eat much red meat any more but I do try to make an effort to buy grass fed, humanely raised beef. And chicken. And cage free eggs.
The trouble with going vegetarian is that it's hard to get enough B vitamins and legumes don't agree with my stomach. I love fish luckily. Even calamari and I cook calamari steaks so they cut like butter, Julia. Breaded, about a minute on each side.
|Photo by Sandos at the English language Wikipedia|
And I just saw on TV that plants send out distress signals to other plants when they are being eaten. What is left? Fruitarian?
JENN McKINLAY: I don't know, Rhys, I think the bananas would probably have separation anxiety about being ripped apart from their hand, because, little known fact (at least to me), a single banana is called a finger while a bunch of bananas is called a hand.
Okay, no more bananas for me! Honestly, I tried the vegetarian thing. I lasted two weeks. Hooligan 1 walked by me eating a burger and I ripped it out of his hands and ate it right in front of him. Wisely, he said not a word and slowly backed away.
I do try to eat all organic, cage free, not endangered foods, and I will try things like crickets just because you never know if you have a taste for them. Truly, feeding a family has never felt so complicated. And, yes, Hallie, we are sure lucky to have such first world problems.
INGRID THOFT: Tongue. I won't eat tongue. The idea of another animal's tongue touching my tongue and then swallowing it? It grosses me out!
I have no issues with lamb, veal, or anything else that is cute, nor do I give the alleged intelligence of the entrée any thought.
I agree with Julia on the calamari front; way too chewy for my taste. I'm not thrilled by the idea of bugs, but could probably swallow down a cricket or two. However, I draw the line at things that are still alive. Many moons ago, my parents were in Japan and were served lobster (which they love under normal circumstances,) and it was still squirming on their plates. Needless to say, the activity of the main dish detracted from the flavor!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Too smart. (Well, they weren't smarter than humans, but that's not the point.) There is a weird line that I draw, and I can't quite put my finger on it.
Eels, though, those I CAN put my finger on. Pass. Sea bass and other endangered things, I don't eat. And it's either halibut or haddock that's endangered, so I just skip both of them. No veal. I'm very fond of rack of lamb, so, even though it does give me pause...I grill it and enjoy it. Without a mental picture. Ingrid, with you on tongue.
I once interviewed a guy who was the director of the aquarium. And I asked (not for the interview) if he ate sushi. he said yes, absolutely, and he ate fish. His philosophy was that fish are provided by nature, and if we are humane and not wasteful, it's a celebration of how the world works.
The big change though, is duck. I love grilled duck breast, and it used to be one of my faves. Now, though, with Flo and Eddy and their duck friends swimming in our back yard pool, I cannot eat duck. When we see it on a menu, my husband and I exchange horrified looks.
LUCY BURDETTE: Hank, I think that's how the Native American people handle eating animals--to thank them for their sacrifice, etc, etc.
I will not eat veal, and try not to eat pork (because pigs are too
|Squid photo © Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia|
I feel almost as though I should be vegetarian, but I'm not there yet. But I do go the "kind raising" route, definitely no eggs from caged chickens. And yes, we are lucky, lucky, lucky to even have this question on our collective tables!
DEBORAH CROMBIE: If vegetables send out distress signals, then fruit must, too, right? So where do you draw the line once you go down that road?
I would like to know that things I eat have been humanely treated. I buy good local dairy milk, and really expensive local cage free eggs, and local grass fed beef. I try not to eat endangered fish, and I support local farmers. I am a little squeamish about veal these days, but it doesn't come up as a menu choice that often--nor does octopus, although I'm happy to eat calamari. (Thanks for reminding me about the squid steaks, Rhys. They are amazingly good if you don't overcook them.)
I know tongue sounds really icky, but I grew up going to a German deli here in Dallas that sold it as one of their cold lunch meats, and I loved it! What do I draw the line at? Brains, maybe. I remember my mom cooking them when I was a kid. Was it with scrambled eggs? Or did they just look like scrambled eggs? Now we're all totally grossed out.
But I can't help but think these are all such first world issues. I'm a lot more concerned about how to feed hungry people.
HALLIE: So what's on your 'Won't Eat It' list and where do you draw the line?