Monday, February 7, 2011

Oprah & Dinner Peace, Part V

Another major component of Oprah’s vegan-centric episode was Lisa Ling’s tour of the Cargill meat processing plant. Michael Pollan repeatedly said that, “we cannot get right with our food until we know where our food comes from.” To that end, Oprah dispatched Lisa Ling to visit the Cargill beef facility in Fort Morgan, CO, and spend time with the general manager, Nicole Johnson-Hoffman.

Ling was first brought to the feed lot, where 12,000 cattle are fed a corn-rich diet for 200 days, until they gain approximately 600 pounds. They are then transferred to the meat processing facility in Fort Morgan. Approximately 4,500 cows are slaughtered every day in this facility. Ling followed the cattle’s path through the Temple Grandin designed pathways, intended to keep the cattle calm as they approach their death. Each cow is shot in the head with a bolt, that is intended to render them insensible. Their artery is cut, and they bleed to death within a couple minutes. The cow’s carcass is washed, skinned, and hooves and head removed. The carcass is placed in a large refrigerator where it is inspected, butchered, and packaged, then sent to distributors.

I give Cargill credit for bringing Lisa Ling in, when 20 other companies refused to allow the cameras in. But Cargill is a massive, worldwide organization, and Fort Morgan is only 1 of their processing facilities. All we can know from the footage of their plant is what happens on one particular day in one particular plant. However positively things are being done in Fort Morgan, this says nothing about what other companies are doing (like all the groups that refused access to Oprah). Unless you know that your meat is coming from Fort Morgan, you cannot know that this is how your cattle is slaughtered.

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