Eating Animals

Time ranks Farm Forward Board Member Jonathan Safran Foer among the writers who have become a “voice of this generation.” The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Esquire call him “brilliant.” His works have been translated into 30 languages, and his first two novels have both been made into major motion pictures. Foer’s third book, written in close collaboration with Farm Forward, is a unique exploration of the issues that arise from factory farming and the alternatives that are available to conscientious consumers. Eating Animals, Foer’s deeply personal exposition of Farm Forward’s vision, was released in November 2009 to critical acclaim.

“It is the kind of wisdom that, in all its humanity and clarity, deserves a place at the table with our greatest philosophers.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Review of Eating Animals

Eating Animals, The Book

This is Foer’s first work of non-fiction, and it is part memoir, part modern muckraking and the most important book on animal agriculture in decades. We say the most important because no other honest account of animal agriculture has ever addressed the issue on so many levels—something we believe is essential to creating lasting change.

Part of what makes Farm Forward unique is our insistence that how we raise farm animals is not simply an issue of animal welfare, ecological sustainability, or sound economics, but all of these and more. How we choose to feed our families and ourselves says a lot about who we are as individuals and as citizens. Our food choices are also statements of values. Foer’s book is so powerful in part because it recognizes that, “Food ethics are so complex because food is bound to both taste buds and taste, to individual biographies and social histories.”

Farm Forward is proud to have played a part in making Foer’s book possible. Speaking of the contributions of Farm Forward founder Aaron Gross, Foer writes, “It’s often said that such-and-such wouldn’t have been possible without so-and-so. But in the most literal sense, I wouldn’t have, and couldn’t have, written this book without Aaron.”

At Farm Forward we, of course, had high expectations for the book Foer would write. What we didn’t expect, though, was a book that articulates so much of Farm Forward’s own philosophy. For example, Foer singles out Frank Reese as the most important farmer in America. We’ve felt that way for years. Reese has the ability to recreate a more humane and sustainable poultry industry, which is why supporting Reese’s work is taking more of Farm Forward’s attention than any other project.

Lauded as one of the most accomplished writers of his generation, Foer is uniquely positioned to raise awareness about the troubling state of animal agriculture and the impact of our food choices. He is exactly the kind of culture-maker America needs to help us remember why food and farming matter and to inspire us to action. His choice to speak out has already inspired many others. Natalie Portman exclaimed that “Eating Animals changed me from a twenty-year vegetarian to a vegan activist.”

Eating Animals, The Documentary

The book had such an impact on Natalie, in fact, that in 2014 she signed on to help turn Eating Animals into a documentary film. Farm Forward CEO Aaron Gross met with Portman who is serving as executive producer and is working closely with the film’s director, Christopher Quinn, the award-winning director of God Grew Tired of Us.

As preparation for the film, Quinn and Gross visited many of the locations mentioned by Foer in Eating Animals, including farms using high-welfare practices, like Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, Niman Ranch, and BN Ranch. On a separate trip, Quinn traveled with Farm Forward Program & Policy Coordinator Michael McFadden to visit East of Eden Farm, one of several North Carolina operations raising heritage chickens on pasture. Just as importantly, Quinn and Gross also traveled on public roads adjacent to factory farms in California (that would not allow filming on their property) and met with animal advocates who have gone undercover to see firsthand the cruelty of industrial agriculture and slaughter.

Farm Forward believes the film will build even greater momentum in the push to end the abuses of factory farming, introducing new audiences to the worst and best of animal agriculture and inviting them to think about eating animals in new ways. We hope you are as excited to see the film as we are!