Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oprah & Dinner Peace, Part VI

The reality is, not all cattle are treated in this way. Jonathan Safran Foer details the typical transport process for most cattle, a part of the process Lisa Ling did not address in her documentary:

"One way or another [roping, shouting, tail twisting, shocking with electric prods, and hitting], they are herded onto trucks or trains. Once aboard, cattle face a journey of up to forty-eight hours, during which they are deprived of water and food. As a result, virtually all of them lose weight and many show signs of dehydration. They are often exposed to extremes of heat and cold. A number of     animals will die from the conditions or arrive at the slaughterhouse too sick to be considered fit for human consumption."

Cargill’s general manager, Nicole Jonson-Hoffman, made a big point about the bolt that is shot into the cow’s head, rendering it insensible to the rest of the slaughter process, and its own death. What Johnson-Hoffman never mentions is that sometimes the bolt is administered inaccurately, and the cow is alive when their artery is cut, or regains consciousness while they are being “processed.” According to Foer, “animals are bled, skinned, and dismembered while conscious. It happens all the time, and the industry and the government know it. Several plants cited for bleeding or skinning or dismembering live animals have defended their actions as common in the industry and asked, perhaps rightly, why they were being singled out.”

These traumas are only a drop in the bucket. Every step of the process is vulnerable to human error, and thus extreme cruelty. Oprah’s inclusion of Cargill makes it seem like their standards of practice are universal, and all of the beef you find in supermarkets and restaurants is slaughtered and processed in this way. In truth, this thinking is naive, and lets us off the hook of demanding better animal treatment practices. If you truly care about where your meat comes from, I encourage you to read Eating Animals or watch PETA’s brief documentary Meet Your Meat. As admirable as Fort Morgan’s humane efforts are, this is still not typical, and serious change is still necessary.

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