You perfectly summed up the main point of his article, and in a lot fewer words. I was trying to come up with another animal that takes the blame for human destruction, and the best I came up with are deer. People often complain of deer venturing into their lawn and feeding off their flowers, or getting angry they have to slam on the breaks to stop for one sprinting across the road. However, we should not see these majestic animals as a nuisance, but rather, as a reflection of the fact that we have expanded our suburbs well beyond their carrying capacity and into wild forests.
Furthermore, we should see other “nuisances” like squirrels as a symbol of human preservation of surrounding trees. Squirrels need trees to live in, and if their is an abundance of squirrels scurrying happily outside, then we at least have kept enough trees to support the population. This is clearly a much simpler piece of the equation, but my point is that humans should use the populations of animals around us as an evaluation for our mark on the surrounding environment.
Maybe that is the type of bond Shapiro was referring to; one that serves only to protect the animal for the human’s best interest instead of a loving attachment to the animal alone. However, he talks about the “perfect” rat he owned that died, and he seems to feel a remorse over this loss. He personally may really enjoy the company of the rats and view them as pets because he respects their contributions to science, but I agree that he is probably the exception.
It seems like they basically artificially selected the rats best suited for research in the first place. They started out with the Norwegian rat, and ended up with an albino rat specifically bred for its tameness.
I really like that you pointed out that ultimately, some animals just cannot and should not be domesticated. I think Brantz tip-toed around this point, without explicitly stating it.
I trust your judgement on the matter because you have participated in a variety of animal studies, and I agree that some animals just are meant to be exploited by humans. I feel that Brantz came a little closer to that point than you seem to, but I understand why you feel she did not give the reader insight into just how vast the impact really is. I feel she did not want to it into a comment on modern downfalls of agriculture, but rather, wanted to include a wide array of cultural history as impacted by domestication.
I agree with your point that if animals seem to serve no purpose to humans, then they are seen as a nuisance. I noted in my post, as I collected from the readings, that our views on what makes an animal important has changed vastly over time. Animals used to serve as a means for survival, and later became a means of social status in France.
We also falter as humans when we ignore certain traits that could be extremely important, like color, for example.
I think mutualism maybe exists within some species, such a household pets, but one could argue how important this “benefit” to the animal really is. We have increased the populations of livestock tremendously, which some would think makes a species successful; while others,note through a moral point of view that these overpopulated species suffer.
I love how you covered the numerous effects pastoralism has had on cultures, language, symbols, etc. I also really like how you went one step further than Kessler and discussed how it has affected our genes.
When I was reading Goat Song, I was shocked by how many different ways one simple animal, the goat, could influence the world. What amazed me more, is how those influences have resonated through culture still today. I definitely would not have made the connection of the satyr to satan on my own, so I am glad you pointed it out.
I did discover however, that other common domestic animals have had just as great an influence on culture as has the goat. In my ongoing research concerning the domestication of pigs, I discovered that the domestic pig has “political, cultural, and ecological roots in Egypt. In fact, the domestication of pigs actually led to the break down of harsh regimes in the Lower Egypt (Brett Mizelle- Pig).
I did not take offense to it, I have just always gotten squeamish easily whenever discussing biological matters this in depth. I agree that in many ways, including the how we sanitize dairy, America has to differ in method due to its size. Though he took a pretty extreme stance on it, his comment that now dairies could do whatever they wanted to the animals and the milk, as long as they pasteurized it, really resonated with me. The food industry is extremely corrupt, and many disturbing things happen behind closed doors.
As to your point about drinking milk during adulthood was not the evolutionary norm, I too thought back to that reading when analyzing his argument. Do we really need all the nutrients in milk, or is it just a marketing scheme from the dairy industry?
Like I mentioned briefly, he discusses how humans evolved the enzyme to digest milk as a result of agriculture, but he also seems to attribute our current obesity epidemic to the rise of monoculture. He states we tend to “stick to the few species that grow best,” leaving us with a massive consumption of dairy, cereal, and sugar, (also booze in his opinion). Furthermore, he describes our relationship with cows as mutualistic, rather than simply us domesticating them- they give us dairy and beef, we ensure them grass. However, Dunn sees that now, do to advances in the food industry, we are moving further and further away from our historical means of food, and he thinks it takes people away from their culture and their sense of identity.
I acknowledged in my post that the Paleo diet does pose some benefits because it forces the dieter to choose more whole foods and lean proteins over processed and fatty foods/meats, which can definitely induce significant weight loss. I agree with you in the sense that I do not believe that it would benefit the human population to make a complete 180 back to our primitive eating styles. That species of human died, while we survived, so clearly we have at least some nutritional knowledge that benefits us more than our historical diet. The issue with dieting overall is that most are too extreme to maintain, and we can never be sure exactly what our body needs to find optimal health, so we should aim for balance, not primitive.
In response to your musings on milk specifically, I too have often wondered what prompted someone to drink milk in the first place, maybe they figured if it’s good for babies, why not get it somewhere else for adults. This theory clearly has no backing, but it’s difficult to find many possibilities, like you stated. I wonder then, after milk was first introduced, how we had so much of it that we eventually evolved the enzyme necessary to digest it, especially given that apparently we could not even properly digest it. Why did we continue to consume it? Did our bodies become dependent on it? Is this what “made us fat?”
I found this article on the history of milk:
“During the most recent ice age, milk was essentially a toxin to adults because — unlike children — they could not produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk. But as farming started to replace hunting and gathering in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, cattle herders learned how to reduce lactose in dairy products to tolerable levels by fermenting milk to make cheese or yogurt. Several thousand years later, a genetic mutation spread through Europe that gave people the ability to produce lactase — and drink milk — throughout their lives. That adaptation opened up a rich new source of nutrition that could have sustained communities when harvests failed.”
This excerpt at least explains how we began to develop the ability to digest it, and according to this article, our bodies did not necessarily make the whole change; rather, the way we began processing milk made it easier to digest. It also gives brief insight into why milk became a prominent nutrient source