Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Last night I watched Ira Glass’ This American Life* about the pork industry. I love that show. They started out doing a story on pork farming and then ended up turning the camera on themselves because the effect on the crew was the most interesting part. The sound guy turned permanently vegetarian.

So did I.

I like meat. When I was growing up I ate a lot of farm-grown meat. My dad hunted and butchered white tail deer. I once saw him shoot one in the head with his rifle because we’d hit it with the car and it was suffering.

In Africa, I ate pig intestines (and maggots and locusts and probably a lot of other things). I watched a steer get slaughtered in a pen with nothing more than a knife. I watched my pet chickens get their heads chopped off.

None of this bothered me. (Okay, the chicken thing did. The German neighbour showed up angry, clutching my dead pets. He'd wrung their necks as punishment for letting them escape into his garden. Particularly traumatizing. I was 10).

But for the most part, I have a tough skin when it comes to animals and death.

What bothered me about the show was that this is not farming. It’s factory production. They even made that point that farmers are more factory workers then anything. This one farmer said that when he was a kid they’d break for lunch, have a nap, then get back to work with the pigs, who were all kept outside.

Now he works too much to nap because he's so far in debt and the pigs can’t go outside because they’re too weak. You have to be sterilized before you even go in to see them because they’re so susceptible to illness. It’s a meat factory. The animals have a horrifying existence.

This has to be bad karma, for lack of a better word. You are what you eat, right? I avoid processed food. I should avoid processed meat. And this industry is so manipulated it can't be called otherwise.

There are excellent farmers and hunters out there. If I know the source and can feel that it was treated with care up until its death, then killed as humanely as possible, then I’ll partake in that delicious, meaty meal. It'd be even better if it could be slaughtered with gratitude (farmers in the house roll your eyes!). Yum yum yum. Good karma meat.

I know that means a serious decrease in my meat intake but we've been cutting back for budget purposes anyway. And hell, it’s better for the environment.

*Did you notice you can't get into Showtime's site unless you're in the States? That's bologna.

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