The New York Times devotes quite a few column inches to the situation of the poor lobster today — does this hail a return to Howell Raines’ directive to “flood the zone”? Both the Week in Review and the Business section carefully consider the plight of the lobster.
All this, of course, is predicated on the events of the week: Whole Foods proclaimed that they would stop selling live lobsters, because the conditions they were kept in — crammed in tanks with little room to flail their lobstery limbs — were inhumane.
As Frank Bruni notes in his Week in Review piece, the lobster situation dovetails with the question of foie gras — recently banned in Chicago and legislated into obsolescence in California as of 2012. But, he notes, are lobster and foie gras really the issues we should be focusing on?
Bruni, naturally, turns to Michael Pollan for guidance — as we all seem to do these days. “Foie gras and lobster are not at the heart of the real tough issues of animal welfare, which are feed lots and pigs and cattle and chickens and how billions of animals are treated,” says Pollan. The issue of “free range” chicken is touched upon — Bruni correctly calls it “a less sturdy assurance than many people believe.”
The question of how, exactly, one would kill a lobster “humanely” is addressed by Eric Ripert, chef at Le Bernadin. He slices off their heads. “I feel good about doing that” is the amusing quote Bruni teases from him.
If slicing off lobster heads doesn’t make you feel good, consider the CrustaStun, detailed in Sunday’s NYT Business section. It’s an electric chair for lobsters created by a British barrister named Simon Buckhaven. The story details the trial-and-error process that Buckhaven navigates to get to ultimate lobster domination; the final product “resembles a high-tech waffle iron.”
Some have accused Whole Foods of using the lobster as a PR move. It does seem like there are more pressing issues at hand — like the free-range chicken standards that Bruni only touches upon. Meanwhile, the idea of a live lobster ban has the live yogurt culture lobby in an uproar.