Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is a real "downer"

As someone who has been eating meat since he swiped a ham sandwich off his Aunt Wilda's plate on Memorial Day 1960, I have always been somewhat bewildered by people who can subsist on tofu and vegetables, but for the first time in my life, I'm questioning my life as a carnivore. One big issue is food safety. As our food production shifts further and further from family farms to conglomerates, our ability to know what we're eating and feel safe about the way the food is produced is dwindling. The O-R had a story the other day about former U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors who say the agency's food-inspection efforts are sorely lacking. And then we had the disgusting video released by the Humane Society that, according to the Associated Press, showed workers at a California meat plant "shoving sick or crippled cows with forklifts to get them to stand." The story went on: "The video also showed workers dragging sick cows with chains, shocking them with electric prods and shooting streams of water in their noses and faces." A lawsuit by the Humane Society against the USDA said the workers were attempting to get the so-called downer cows to stand, even momentarily, so they could be considered fit for slaughter under federal rules. The USDA recently recalled 143 million pounds of beef from the slaughterhouse. That may address the immediate health concerns, but it's a safe bet that other plants are employing similarly inhumane tactics to produce the meat we consume, and can we really feel good about our complicity in the torture of these creatures? As someone who is descended from a long line or farm people, I was raised on meat and potatoes, and there are few things better, in my mind, than a well-cooked steak, but day by day, disturbing story by disturbing story, I'm getting closer to being just a potato eater.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make the switch to fish and fresh vegetables. Your life will change.

February 29, 2008 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Since I need to lose about half a person in weight, and I already love fish and fresh vegetables, that may be very sound advice. Thanks.

February 29, 2008 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I guess I'm in the minority on this topic, but I just don't see the big deal with this whole story. It sounds to me like it all stems from some special interest groups smelling a lucrative class action lawsuit that will only be bolstered by the emotional shock value of the video.

The bulk of the meat has been consumed and no one suffered any ill effects. But when it was discovered that the meat had been served in elementary schools, the story took on a life of its own. Horror of horrors!!! Children MIGHT have eaten something that MIGHT have been questionable, but there is no proof of any of it. These children's parents are the ones who buy only cleaning products that are anti-bacterial, the ones who spray Lysol on the phone and pour bleach into the kitchen trash can so their little ones will never, ever encounter a germ.

I figure that God put cows and chickens and lambs on this earth for me to eat. If it takes a forklift to get the cow to the slaughterhouse, I say grease up the forks and get to it.

One more thought: the meat was taken to landfills. Here, it will thaw, rot, be consumed by all sorts of fauna, will leech into the water table and eventually it might make its way into our homes. I find that more troubling, to be honest.

March 2, 2008 at 4:35 PM  

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