Living in This World

The Morning News

Sometimes we go to bed thinking one thing, and wake up to discover the world is a slightly different place than we understood, and that we need to reconsider.

Yesterday at the Whole Paycheck, I bought some beef, just a little, already prepared. After an afternoon of what I would call small eating failures, I realized that I had been in need of protein, and when The Princess and I went out to get sushi for supper, I picked up a small amount of teriyaki beef to have today.

If you’ve watched the news this morning, you know where I’m headed. Holy God, how can people treat animals that way? To think that animals are being killed for our food with no regard for their health or their pain is wrong in every kind of way. I’m just saying something obvious, and not saying it particularly well, because I’m shocked.

And then I’m disappointed in being so deliberately in denial that I could be shocked.

Now, I know the lovely pieces of beef teriyaki from the fancypants grocery store probably came from a different source. It’s the school lunch program and fast food restaurants that get their meat from the slaughterhouse in question. But seriously. Seriously.

For many years, I did not eat four-legged animals, mostly because The Father of My Children didn’t. We continued to eat a moderate amount of poultry and fish. But when we split, I went back to eating meat, in part because I needed to assert my authority over myself, to be sure any choices I made were mine, not his. In the past year or so, The Princess has taken up his way of eating, of her own volition.

I’m not sure what I will do about this. I’m already limiting what I eat in pretty significant ways, and setting another limit would require an even more focused commitment. I just know I’m disgusted this morning, and not just disgusted, but horrified.

26 thoughts on “The Morning News”

  1. I’m horrified too, of course, but I’m also a little bit surprised at the shock and outrage people are expressing over the treatment of cattle at Westland/Hallmark. Is it really that many degrees worse than large-scale beef production in general (and chicken & pork production for that matter)? Not that this is necessarily a call for vegetarianism – I think it’s possible to humanely and sustainably raise animals for meat; we just don’t do it much.

  2. I’m just appalled that this stuff was intended to be served to kids. And mostly poor kids on school lunch programs at that. Unbelievably callous in every way.

  3. We try really hard to buy our meat (well, mine– Mr. M’s a vegetarian) from local farms, where we know the animals are treated well. It’s inconvenient, and I don’t eat very much of it (because it’s inconvenient), but I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can’t do it any other way.

  4. I was watching that footage while eating my breakfast, which was meat free, since it was a Fiber One bar.
    Still, it made me queasy, which is the whole point, isn’t it? A while back I watched Fast Food Nation, (or whatever that movie was called where they dramatized how the folks in meat processesing plants are treated was called). I didn’t eat beef for weeks. Eventually, however, I forgot my disgust and outrage and went back to eating it. I’m guessing this makes me part of the problem.

  5. I did hear that our school system has withdrawn that meat from its source now.
    Now on to beef in general. I have decreased my intake of beef considerably in light of my health and cholesterol level. I have not totally eliminated it.
    I think of all the work that Temple Grandin has done in the area of ethical treatment of animals in the industry (which sounds so contradictory!), I know she would be sicker than we are!
    This all sort of brings us back full circle to eating locally doesn’t it?

  6. Yup, eating locally has a lot of advantages! However, where we fall down at the Knickers&Pants household is in going out to eat. There are numerous restaurants in Uppity College Town that use local meats only, but they tend to be on the expensive side. I have no idea where the Chinese buffet we went to yesterday gets its meat — but I suspect it’s from the wrong kind of place. We need to think about this some more.

  7. I saw about a second of the video teaser & changed the channel. We eat primarily vegetarian & vegan meals (although will eat small amounts of chicken/fish if eating out) Little Sprout does eat Hamburger Happy Meals & has a few pieces of Salmon in the freezer. And the freezer in the basement is packed with chicken…for the dog. Oddly enough my final decision to go more veg wasn’t based on the treatment of animals. It was a factor, but the impact on my health, the environment & world hunger probably swayed me the most.

  8. I am so lucky that my family are free range ranchers on the other side of our state. Then they sell to a coop that provides meat at the local fancy pants independent grocery store. My uncle assures me that the whole process is humane and treats the animals with dignity. Two years ago we actually went up in the hills for a cattle drive with them, and it was really wonderful. The downside? We can barely afford that beef. We eat it (or any meat) rarely.
    We don’t eat chicken. Most of us don’t like it. We eat pork once in awhile, we talk all the time about buying a side of free range pork with another family, but haven’t done it.
    Mallory is a vegetarian. She would prefer we only buy ethical milk and eggs. Or better yet, get some chickens. I do when I can, but sometimes price or convenience makes me buy the regular stuff.

  9. I know. Fortunately for my occasional meat cravings, there are lots of places around here that specialize in free-range, humanely treated meat — which is useful, because there are times when I get into a sort of anemic slump that few things short of a steak will cure. But this news: this is horrifying. And we wonder why our society seems habituated to the idea of torture.

  10. Watched Finding Nemo this morning (“Fish are our friends not our food”) and now after reading your post, I’m thinking I need to reconsider my fundamental meat/fish eating habits. Thanks.

  11. It disgusts and angers me, too. We do eat beef, but the compromise we have made is to patronize a local source of free-range, grass-fed-only beef. As raising animals this way is much less “efficient” than the cruel methods of factory farming, the meat is quite expensive–and that means we seldom eat beef. That’s OK too.

  12. I was only able to watch a couple of seconds, too. This definitely means I need to examine this in my life…I would be happy to be entirely veg, but my spouse would not. I think I may be eschewing meat for a while, anyway.
    At least a while.

  13. I’ll be unpopular here. This incident was supposed to be an aberration. Perhaps it was. Perhaps not. As a omnivore by necessity (I became severely anemic as a vegetarian), I turned to denial after learning that nowadays, most animals are not treated at all humanely in their short and sacrificial lives which have been conscripted for our consumption.
    Given that and having no problem with eating meat, though preferring it treated humanely in life and death, why do we still have this going on in so called “enlightened” societies.

  14. I haven’t eaten red meat since high school and gave up poultry about ten years ago (but I don’t mind if chicken stock is in something), but I do eat seafood now and then. It wasn’t just reading Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” that did it, either. I never really liked the taste. In third grade I refused to eat a ham sandwich my mom had packed and the lunch monitor wouldn’t let me go out for recess (luckily I’m an indoor person!). I offered to eat the bread and mustard, but refused to eat the ham. They told my mom who said, “So we don’t pack ham sandwiches for you anymore.”

  15. I appreciate all your comments and hope no one needs to feel unpopular for expressing a dissenting view. I’m not sure there is any one answer for everyone for all time. I just know that in food production, as in war and in the everyday circumstances of death, we maintain a distance from reality that cannot be good for us.
    There are definitely choices here in terms of buying locally produced, which I hope means kinder and gentler, meat. We really don’t buy much in the first place, so making that change when we do buy is certainly a possibility. But I have been leaning on little frozen meals produced by Weight Watchers, and that may have to undergo an adjustment.

  16. my uncle is a farmer. doesn’t raise cattle or pigs any more. The HUGE farms are doing that (although he’s pretty big, 1,000 acres) I think the huge farms cause much worse treatment of animals. and I’m sad that the small farms have been dissed and everyone is encouraged to “get big”.

  17. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma a few years ago, we started being more conscious of where the meat that my family buys comes from, in an attempt to avoid this very thing (and I became a vegetarian who eats a little fish once in a while). But we cope out in so many ways. Our dog eats chicken– not free-range either– and when we go out to dinner, the kids order whatever they want, no matter where the meat comes from. So this distressing piece on the news– which Omnivore’s Dilemma suggests is indicative of a much larger problem– means I’m going to have to rethink even those situations. Oy!

  18. we’ve had similar programmes over here, and I must say it has made me think quite deeply about what I eat!
    We eat little meat anyway, and have ensured that our meat comes from animals that have been treated humanely, if that is not possible then I’d rather go without.
    Great post.

  19. I didn’t watch the video, but can only imagine…this is one of the many reasons to move toward a vegetarian (or vegan) diet. I was a meat-eater who never thought I could ever survive without meat, until I tried it four years ago. It’s really not that hard, once you decide to do it.

  20. Interesting. DD’s and I had a conversation about this as well.
    I told them that IF we were to go “vegetarian” that it would absolutely NOT mean buying processed products. I don’t care how “natural” they are — buying tofu made to taste like meat just somehow seems… WRONG.
    We’re still talking… thinking… and no, not having any beef right now.

  21. After this latest round (pardon the pun) of scary-beef news we made a joint decision at our house to purchase ALL of our beef, from now on, from our meat purveyor Farmer Ken. We eat so little red meat anyway that it’s not that expensive a proposition. And I like grinding my own burger in my food processor.

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