Friday, October 05, 2007

When I read *The Omnivore's Dilemma* by Michael Pollan, one thing that really struck me was the image of cows at factory farms chained to poles, standing in their own feces, which as I understand it (if I am remembering correctly) is how they spend several months of their lives before slaughter. I have not really been able to get that image out of my mind. If I recoil in disgust when I see someone eat beef (especially from a fast food chain, since you can be sure that's factory-farmed beef), it's only because I have a hard time getting that image out of my mind. Luckily, researchers are working on the problem of decontaminating beef carcasses, which should give beef eaters some sense of relief. Check out this abstract entitled Comparison of methods for contamination removal from beef carcass surfaces. You see the *problem* is not just that it's really disgusting to eat something that is or was covered in crap, but rather that beef can harbor the deadly germ e. coli, which is a major cause of serious food poisoning. Unfortunately, at the present time there is actually no way to prevent fecal contamination during slaughter. Ewwww!!


Steph said...

Ending factory farming of animals might be a start!

Pamela said...

I guess the way I look at it is, as long as people keep eating the stuff and it doesn't bother them, the industry will continue. It doesn't seem realistic to me that the industry will change it's ways if they are still making a profit (unfortunately). WHY do people continue to eat fast beef? Why doesn't it bother them to know where it came from - what it is?? If not for the welfare of the animals, what about the health issues? Doesn't the crap factor make it less appealing?

Jake said...

Unfortunately, most people are ruled by baser instincts. Hunger and convenience are far more effective as motivators than anything more abstract. Heck, people will knowingly eat food that has had direct contact with feces if they're hungry enough.

It reminds me of a study done about morality and whatnot. For the participants, they knew they were in a study: they had to listen some sort of a presentation for an hour, and then they were told they had to go to this other building to take a written survey. Some of the people were shown presentations all about how good it is to give to the homeless and so on, and others were given nothing, I think. Then the survey asked them how moral they think they were, and so on. Not surprisingly, those who had seen the heavy handed talk about being moral rated themselves as higher than the rest.

BUT, the study was about something else. Along the route between the buildings they had to navigate, there was a beggar planted. Some people were told they had 5 minutes to get to the next building, some 20. The people who thought they had less time dropped a coin at an astonishingly lower rate than those who were not rushed. It didn't matter if they had seen the presentation on giving alms at all!

The point being that in this day, answering to the hunger imperative while feeling constantly rushed makes any kind of thinking about it go out the window.

Suze said...

um, i think cheap meat has a lot to do with it, too. organic free-range chicken is about 4 times as expensive (at least, maybe more) as the factory-farmed stuff in the grocery store. people just aren't willing to pay.

i, for one, don't go near that disgusting meat. but i'm already wondering what i'll do when daniel and ?? are clamoring for happy meals someday. total denial and restriction will probably backfire, but i just can't in good conscience feed that stuff to my kid(s).

interesting that the FDA was created because of that novel "the jungle," which describes a lot of these practices in detail from many decades ago. the prez was so disgusted he thought it was time for some government oversight into the meat-packing industry. sadly, it hasn't really been working too well of late.