Sunday, April 10, 2005

A food chain is as poisonous as its most carnivorous link - 2

I am in the mood to continue this unfinished blog.

I was reading Garrett James Hardin's madly brilliant ecological masterpiece Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle I found something really curious, awesome, inspiring: the food chain gets poisonous as it goes up.

This is how it happens: there is poinson in the form of metals and other substances in the environment. They can be poisonous because they harm humans (and other species in general) and are not consumable by the body. Mercury is one such element. If taken in with food, these substances either pass out of our body, or, more commonly, remain in the body as a residue. This residue deposits inside. This is an alien chemical that stays inside the animal body. If in moderate amounts, this will only lead to a very slow death. If excessive, this will rapidly disturb the body's elemental balance and bring premature death.

In making a case on how there should be an accounting (with ledgers and all) for the harmful mercury, Hardin explained that the bottom rung of the food chain is the least poisonous, as it intakes poison directly from the environment. The eater of that poisonous member of the food chain, however, intakes poison not only from the environment, but from its prey. I was like, oh my God. Thank you Garrett for letting me know that God wasn't arbitrary when separating the kosher from non-kosher.

Plants often do not eat up other plants and animals directly. So exclusing those plants which have known direct poisons/ yucky chemicals, all others are eatable or consumable in medicine. Animals eat up plants and other animals. Those animals that eat other animals are taking up all the poison from the levels of the food chain below it + its own environmental poison. So a lion has the wild dog's poison, and of the cat the dog ate, and of the rat that the cat ate, and of the trash that the rat ate. Man, too, consumes immense amounts of poison from all sources. Healthy women menstruate out some of that harmful pollution; but men's residual poison/ pollution appears in the form of facial and excessive body hair.

That's why a lion and other scavengers and trash-eaters (I call them "dustbins of the food chain") are haraam/ unkosher.

AND raising a pig in clean conditions so as to qualify it as kosher/ eatable is unfair with the world's ecology. The pig is a dustbin. It should be allowed to rid the world of its excessive filth and poison by consuming it up.

Have a chicken, have a clean environment!


  1. Well there you have it! That was an interesting perspective of looking at (rather "connecting") the two paradigms (halal & kosher foods and the world's food chain.) Good post. ;-)

    Just a last footnote: the agricultural spectrum of the food chain is no less prone to these poisons, though, than the animal end in our case. I have a cousin here who works in a major chemical company and he told me that he has seen some very strange crops such as blue tomatoes, right here in Karachi. He explained to me that that produce is actually "intoxicated" (pun intended). It is grown on water and fertilizers that is contaminated with deadly pollutants. And you know what [he said] the best part was? People actually buy them and treat them as some kind of novelty to be admired! They have no idea or "appreciation" (again pun intended) of the danger of what they are consuming.

    Think about it: there are no proper procedures for the disposal of waste from our industrial system (in practice at least). There are chiefly few methods employed [worldwide] for mass industrial waste disposal: incineration, burying in deep land fills and dumping into deep water systems. The first two are used few and far between in Pakistan. It is the third method that is mainly employed, dumping into the water. In the case of lower Sindh you can argue that it goes into the Arabian Sea delta. (Not that that is a good thing either.) But what about up-country, from Punjab and NWFP? There is only one source of flowing water or a body of water large enough to get rid of that much waste: the rivers. The very rivers that are in turned use for human consumption and agriculture as it flows south-wards to us.

    So while God had His Logic Worked out and Prescribed things for our betterment, again as usual we've found new and innovative ways to screw it up.

  2. Hardin proposed a novel idea: he said that there should be materials accounting/log for harmful substances and toxic material. The book was written in the 1960's, most likely after Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. The Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle is extraordinary. Hardin has not only identified problems, but given solutions, often worked out mathematically. I haven't read another book like it. Hardin is Carson-meets-Edward do Bono.

    I "permanently borrowed" this book from a library when I was assured that it has multiple copies, only one of which was last issued in 1969.