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Plant matter

(article, Culinate staff)

Just before Christmas (and therefore unread by many in the blur of the holiday), Natalie Angier published a provocative piece in the New York Times entitled '"Sorry,

In exploring the sophistication of plants (as Michael Pollan did in The Botany of Desire), Angier pushes the conversation about ethical eating further: 

bq.The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.

She then goes on to catalog study after study of adaptive behavior by plants.

Angier writes that she herself doesn't eat mammals (so no lamb, but yes, duck is OK — not to mention salad). "Food choices," she writes, "are often . . . difficult to articulate yet strongly held." Plants, she concludes, may ultimately have the ethical upper hand:

bq.It’s a small daily tragedy that we animals must kill to stay alive. Plants are the ethical autotrophs here, the ones that wrest their meals from the sun. Don’t expect them to boast: they’re too busy fighting to survive.