Ever read The Food Politics of Pokémon on Modern Farmer? It’s a short read, and I’m sure it’s nothing incredibly insightful to a Pokémaniac of your caliber, but still, I’m interested in hearing what you think especially with regards to your own Pokémon and Food article! Awesome blog, btw! 🙂
The whole Pokémon as food thing is really interesting because it seems like something they’ve gotten progressively more uncomfortable with since the series started. Like, there’s plenty of evidence in the first couple of generations that humans eat Pokémon (e.g. Farfetch’d) and that Pokémon eat each other (e.g. Magikarp and Pidgeotto). The recent stuff tends to involve ingredients that you could hypothetically take from a Pokémon without killing or even necessarily hurting them – for example, that article mentions Restaurant le Yeah’s blue cheese curdled with Arbok venom, which you could harvest in a perfectly humane fashion, and it’s been well established for years that Slowpoke are largely numb to pain and their tails grow back very quickly. When you actually sit across from someone senior in Game Freak and ask them “well, do we eat Pokémon,” as happened here, for instance, Junichi Masuda gives you this incredibly vague response:
“There’s a lot of fruits and vegetables in the world of Pokémon. There is also a variety of snacks and various candies and whatnot that come from the different regions. The Pokémon world is much more technologically advanced than the world of our own, so perhaps there is probably a lot of different food that we can’t even think of.”
Like… he doesn’t quite want to say “no” outright, but he’s also clearly very uncomfortable with the idea. And at this point you get into “death of the author,” where it doesn’t actually matter what the creators think, because the world they’ve presented to us is one in which it makes sense if people do eat Pokémon, and we are free to interpret it that way if the games and anime don’t actually contradict it. But yeah, it is awkward, ethically, and it is prone to cultural values dissonance, because which animals are okay to eat is not by any means universal in the real world – like, if you’re in India, cows are off limits; in most of the English-speaking world, eating dogs and cats is frowned upon; the Japanese, despite international condemnation of their Antarctic “research” expeditions, are happy to scoff down whales, which are among the most intelligent non-human animals on the planet; no one has any problem eating birds but for some reason the “West” is really uncomfortable with insects. So I see no reason to imagine that this kind of thing wouldn’t be just as contested, if not more so, in the Pokémon world.
EDIT: And for that matter, Masuda references the variety of fruits and vegetables in the Pokémon world, but some of those are also Pokémon; do they have weight?