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Being privileged enough has led us to paying no heed to the blessings that have been bestowed upon us and wasting and corrupting resources. When was the last time you threw something out of the blue without even thinking that it’s a blessing for the poverty-stricken? Or when was the last time you ate a lobster, without thinking the cruelty it was cooked with? While both David Foster Wallaces’s essay, “Consider the lobster”, and Lars Eighner’s “On dumpster Diving” offer perspectives on food, ethics, the way we eat and waste food, there are quite differences between them which makes each one peculiar.
In his essay, Wallace argues that animal cruelty I.e: the inhumane way lobsters are treated is an ethical issue. Whereas, Eighner describes his experiences with scavenging for items and food in dumpsters to survive. Both essays are similar on basic levels on how privileged waste food but different on the ways they do so.
Firstly, these articles have similarities and differences regarding how people waste resources.
Wallace sheds light on the Maine Lobster Festival where over 25,000 pounds of fresh-caught lobster are consumed each year and continues with Maine’s lobster industry as a whole. He points out how people consume such a significant number of sea life in one day, paying no heed to the aquatic life or their possible extinction. In order to appease the festival attendees many lobsters are cooked alive in a single day. Similarly, Eighner points out how people often waste stuff and throw it in the garbage.
Being a scavenger, he narrates his experience of dumpster diving where he came across stuff which went into waste. Whereas, it could’ve been used for oneself or donated to those in need. He shares on how “Canned goods, for example, turn up fairly often in the Dumpsters” (Eighner 88) as well as “raw fruits and vegetables” which people wasted due to “minor imperfections which can be pared away” (Eighner 88).
Therefore, people waste food even due to minor indescrepancies. He also points out how people even let pizza go into waste and not consume it as they “are often made with the wrong topping, refused on delivery for being cold, or baked incorrectly”. People even go as far as throwing brand new pair of running shoes, a perfectly working calculator as well as pristine ice cream” (Eighner 91). Moreover, “Can scroungers lay waste to everything in their path and will stir one of a pair of good shoes to the bottom of a Dumpster, to be lost or ruined in the muck” (Eighner 91). This way their actions lead to waste of something which could’ve been used by someone in need. Wallace mainly focuses on unnecessary over consumption of lobster whereas Eighner focuses on how people in general let things go into waste rather than making a better use of them.
In addition to waste, there are similarities and differences regarding the ethical choices people make concerning the way they eat, treat animals or how they throw resources unnecessarily. Wallace, in his essay points out how painful the experience is for the lobster before humans consume it. He asks whether it is “all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure,” causing the lobster a great deal of pain before it finally dies. It is unethical of us because “It’s not just that lobsters get boiled alive, it’s that you do it yourself or at least it’s done specifically for you on site” (Wallace 62). People are inconsiderate to get pleasure of eating in turn of hurting a creature despite knowing how excruciating it must be for it. Wallace also describes how lobsters act or respond to while being boiled alive. They struggle and try to escape while being boiled shows that they don’t want to experience the pain. Even if we “cover the kettle and turn away, we can hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off” and escape. This shows how unethical we are. Despite witnessing the struggles of the creature, we continue to cook it and consume it often. We are inconsiderate because we would never want to experience something like that for our own self or our loved ones.
Eighner, in his essay explores the ethics of people. He points out how “can scroungers tend to tear up the Dumpsters, mixing the contents and littering the area” and even they “lay waste to everything in their path”. It is unethical of them to only think about their own benefit and being oblivious to others who’ll maybe need something that was lost due to their inconsideration. Moreover, people don’t pay heed to scavengers when discarding things. As Eighner describes his experience of how he found a “jug of Pat O’Brian’s Hurricane mix. The jug had been opened, but it was still ice cold. Someone had added a lot of rum which intoxicated him in a public place” (Eighner 91). This shows that people are inconsiderate to throw something which could be consumed by a scavenger and intoxicate him against his own choice. Moreover, it is unethical how people throw resources rather than using them. It shows that they take things for granted and are not thankful to be privileged enough to have them.
Both articles share similarity on how people take advantage of wealth. Wallace, in his essay “consider the lobster” shares the history of lobster with us. He describes how up until early 1800s, lobster was a low-class food which was only consumed by the poverty-stricken. However, nowadays lobster is seen as a delicacy and something a rich person would eat. Despite, knowing the struggles of the lobster in the cooking process, rich people don’t stop consuming it. Rather than eating something else, we get to know how privileged people visit other countries to consume it for e.g: in the Maine lobster festival.
Similarly, Eighner in his essay “on dumpster diving” shares the experience of how college students take advantage of wealth. He says “The student does not know that, and since it is Daddy’s money, the student decides not to take the chance” (89). The students unnecessarily throw good stuff because it wasn’t obtained from their hard-earned money. Hence, they don’t value money and do not view throwing well kept items as a waste of resources. They know that their parent’s income would get them more.
Moreover, there are similarities and differences regarding the tone and audience of concern in both articles. Both articles target rich and privileged people who have no empathy. If these privileged people had empathized with scavengers/dumpster divers they wouldn’t have thrown their resources. Instead, they would’ve cherished and been thankful to have them. Moreover, instead of throwing there are things which can be donated or taken special care of, so that they are of use to those in need. Moreover, a person after witnessing the struggles of the lobster would stop consuming it. However, the privileged don’t empathize with creatures and continue eating them. “Consider the lobster” is slow-paced. Wallace gradually builds upon from talking about the consumption of lobsters in the festival to how unethical it is and whether or not they feel pain. Whereas, the tone of “on dumpster diving” is straightforward. Eighner starts discussing about dumpster diving as soon as his essay begins and builds upon his experiences further.
Throughout both Wallaces’s essay, “Consider the lobster”, and Eighner’s “On dumpster Diving”, authors offer perspectives on food, ethics, and the way we eat. Both point out how people waste food/resources by either throwing them or by over-consumption. And how immoral and apathizing privileged people can be. However, their tone and how the people are unethical differs.
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