Questioning meat-raising and meat-eating — in eat-everything France

Happy New Year, constant readers. I’m honored and flattered to have had the chance to spend the past few years with you here. 2010 is going to be a big year — not just because SUPERBUG will be published, but because the issue of antibiotic resistance really, really is gathering force in the public mind. I not only believe that, I see it in the news that flows through my computer everyday. The wind is shifting.

Here’s one excellent example. In France of all places, a culture that embraces meat-eating and finds the idea of animal rights quixotic. a book has been published that questions the environmental and moral effects of modern factory farming. It’s called Bidoche, L’industrie de la viande menace le monde (“Bidoche” is a slangy, dismissive term for meat), and it has made enough of a splash that the newspaper Le Monde ran both an article on the book and a readers’ Q&A with the author, journalist Fabrice Nicolino. (The article ran two days before Christmas but was called out on Twitter today by Paula Crossfield of, who spotted it while on holiday, and to whom hat/tip.)

Sadly, the article is behind a paywall; you can see the first 100 words or so here. The Q&A is open though. It’s titled, “To save the planet, should we eat less meat?”and makes fascinating reading (GoogleTranslate into English here), as do the comments, some of which raise the issue of the use of antibiotics in agriculture. But what’s most striking to me is that the conversation is taking place at all, actively and in a public forum, in a place where only a few years ago the local culture would not have been open to the debate. Things are changing indeed.

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