Signs of the Times

A few months ago, the blogosphere was all over the ethical eating blog Suicide Food. Many came to laugh at the site’s deconstruction of food mascots that seem to be begging to be eaten. Few stayed to analyze the impetus behind the site.

But Seattle’s alternative weekly, the Stranger, wanted to go deeper. It sent writer Lindy West on a ride-along with Suicide Food creator (and noted vegan) Ben Grossblatt to tour the best of Seattle’s meat ’n’ mascot spots.

As they move from Ezell’s Fried Chicken (logo: a chicken running at breakneck speed toward his ultimate reward) to Willy’s BBQ (logo: a pig sitting at a table, knife and fork in hand, ready to dine on his own ribs), Grossblatt and West discuss the ethics of meat-eating:

The point of suicide food, in Grossblatt’s mind, is to distance carnivorous diners from the cruelty and death that seasons their dinners. ‘Even though nobody takes these images literally, the suggestion is that eating meat is okay. This kind of imagery is one thing that keeps people from questioning their habits. It’s everywhere. It’s like the Muzak of the meat-eating world.’

At every restaurant, West takes the opportunity to purchase some takeout, but out of deference to Grossblatt she doesn’t want to eat it in front of him. At the end of the day, she’s left with a feast of barbecue and fried chicken. But strangely, with “a long day of careful ethical examination congealing in my throat,” she finds the meat kind of sticks in her craw.