Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Carnivores But Not Killers

I had to run out and do some errands during lunch, and then picked up a hamburger to eat at my desk. These two facts cause me a little reflection because up here north of Austin, when you drive around on the interstates you constantly see cattle out eating in their fields, even here in what is in effect suburbia. Indeed, as I sit here in my corporate office building, if I headed out the door and walked across the street and down the road, perhaps a fifteen minute walk, I could gaze across a barbed wire fence at cattle grazing.

However, though I very much enjoy a good hamburger or steak on occasion, I have never killed and cleaned a cow -- or any other food animal. I don't have any particular objection to doing so. Indeed, it seems to me that at some point in my life I should go hunting or help slaughter farm animals, simply in order to have an appreciation for how this everyday act of eating meat ties in with the greater fabric of life and human experience in other times and places.

I suspect that a solid majority of Americans, especially city-dwellers, have never killed and cleaned their own meat. (Sure, lots of people hunt -- but think its a minority, and probably a shrinking one.) And I can't help wondering if after a generation or two that that starts to change cultural attitudes on a range of issues -- some of which would seem at first to be only tangentially related to food.


Foxfier said...

Honestly, if you *only* go in for the slaughter and butcher, that's just as imbalanced-- to get a real appreciation, you'd need to spend some time with the whole life cycle of the cow.

My folks do their best to make sure that the "neighborhood" kids get to see the whole thing-- from feeding the pregnant mothers, to birth to branding to being knocked in the head, if they're interested.

I really wish you lived in the Methow-- my mom would LOVE to have a whole family to teach about this stuff! (and my dad just flat loves kids)

Anonymous said...

I think that this phenomenon is true of a lot of parts of everyday life. For example, most Americans have no idea how the process of oil exploration and production works, and so they reflexively associate oil with "oily, greasy, environmental mess" and Big Oil profits. And then they wonder why politicans aren't doing something about $4 a gallon gasoline.

The true appreciation of things is often in the details.

Foxfier said...

My mom says that if you want pictures of ranch stuff, she'd be delighted to share.

John Farrell said...

I spent several years (late high school and all of college) working in a big Boston restaurant and became pretty accomplished at scaling, gutting and cleaning a variety of fish.

The 'saw' we used to cut sword fish and halibut was a truly frightening apparatus. We eat a lot of fish now, and my wife still looks at me like I'm strange when I offer to buy 'the whole red snapper' because I still like to scale, clean and slice them for meal prep.

mrsdarwin said...


That sounds delightful. Drop us an email (contact info is the top link on the sidebar) and we can hook your mom up with three delighted girls. Do your folks raise pigs? I've got a pig lover here.

Foxfier said...

Sadly, not any more-- not since we got to Washington.