Monday, November 9, 2009

Safran Foer in San Francisco

Who: VN Associate Editor Abigail Young and VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: “Why Do We Eat Animals?” with Jonathan Safran Foer
Where: Jewish Community Center, San Francisco, Calif.
When: November 5, 2009
Why: To support the release of Eating Animals, a thorough look at factory farming in the US

These days, it’s nearly impossible to glance through my RSS feed without at least one mention of Eating Animals staring me in the face. Maybe I have absolutely no problem with this, and maybe the increasing hype surrounding Jonathan Safran Foer’s first venture into non-fiction had me even more excited for Thursday’s seemingly fanatic festivities. Not only did we have Mr. Foer join us for a catered three-course lunch, but I also made it to his lecture that evening at the Jewish Community Center.

After a few failed attempts at maneuvering the Muni bus system despite nearly a collective year living in the city (Note to self: Presidio Park is not the same as Presidio Avenue), my sister, Alisha, and I managed to make it to the center with a few minutes to spare. The crowd hurried to their seats, and we spotted VN Publisher Joseph Connelly just a few rows ahead.

Copies of Eating Animals, ready for purchase

Foer started off reading from the first chapter of his book, opening up the conversation with his own childhood memories of food and its importance. He kept it brief, giving audience members a good idea of what to expect if and when they bought the book. Foer opened up the floor for a good portion of the evening, addressing audience questions on everything from ex-vegetarians to “humane” meat, and even doled out advice on being veg in the Arctic Circle. (“If your only two options are moose meat or Spam, don’t move to the Arctic Circle.”)

Foer signs copies of his book after the lecture

Overall, the evening was an honest dialogue between a variety of opinions and viewpoints. Listening to the young writer state his case and converse with the audience, it was hard to imagine this was around his fourth or fifth speaking engagement of the day. A meet-and-greet ended the evening in the center’s spacious lobby, where the only thing missing were vegan cupcakes on the sweets-filled snack trays. We hung around as the line died down, and met the man of the hour for a brief snapshot and congratulations. As Foer’s media blitz continues, I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from him.

Alisha, Jonathan Safran Foer, and me

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