Having lived in and among animals of many types, including quadrupeds, bipeds, and bivalves, I have come to see that many of them eat each other.  Though our more civilized natures may balk at certain indelicate acts, clearly our common mother, Nature, intended for some to be the meal and some the diner.  Though some of my fellow citizens of this Great Republic may choose to subvert their Mother, thereby violating laws of nature and commandments of the Lord, I cannot summon enough bile to deny them their liberty in choosing to only sup upon the poor, helpless, immobile leafy and tuberous and seed-bearing creatures that make up the “vegetarian’s diet.”  At times, their claims for the justness of their cause include the projection of very noble and tender feelings upon the creatures that were magnificent while moving under their own accord and are now as delectable as they were once magnificent as they repose on my plate.  If I love my brother, as a Good Christian, should I not love the beasts of land, fowl of the air, and creatures of the murky depths?  I love them, yes, in many ways.  Not so much as to not let my love turn to an all-consuming desire to consume, but I will not claim my heart is so hard as to not suffer when I sup upon it’s tasty heart.  However, I wonder, is this moralizing vegetarian not also, as a human if not as a Christian, also bound to extend love to all the creatures of the Earth?  They may claim I “hate” those I love to eat.  But, does their diet not reflect a wild-eyed hatred of the rooted, of the leaf-bearing, of the good and noble plants, shrubs, flowers, and trees, all also children of Mother Nature and the Heavenly Father?

I digress.  Though the motivations of various eaters amongst us may be a reasonable topic of discourse, I wish to draw my reader’s attention to a much greater topic.  Indeed, it is a topic to which I wish to muster all manner of informed concern and thusly, righteous action.  The topic is one of both moral and political import.  I refer the good reader to the topic of consuming creatures with low consciousness of their provenance.

Know Your Meat, my Friend.  Befriend your beef before you begin to bite it.

It is well known by learned men and women that many problems beset the growing and husbanding of our soon-to-be-fried friends of hoof, feather, and fin.  I will not recite the lengthy treatises and abundance of facts accumulating like the sediment in the Nile valley from which a rich harvest is bestowed.   Suffice it to say that we know the following are concerns.

1) Though a steak or thigh is surely rich in protein and richer in flavor, and perhaps only bested by the fine Irish rugrats my friend Mr. Swift recommends, we know that too much richness can make us sloth and lazy in habit and in form.  TO be clear: by sampling of the fatted pig we are fattening ourselves.  This can lead to no good for the portly or for the poor suffering supports they rely on more heavily with each chomp.  These supports are many, ranging from seats, couches and benches to a friend to a kin’s arm or shoulder.  Though many are gainfully employed constructing portation devices for these rotund eaters, as I have seen in many Malls of Commerce as well as the fine Stores of Wal and Weiss, the net sum  makes us worse.  The greatest strain is on the collective purse.  Those who eat until they are misshapen are eating into the common revenues and public urns.

2) To feed those furry friends of ours who will soon feed us is best done when their fodder leads to a better flavor for us.  Again, the learned have spoken:  free range, free flying, and free swimming creatures, those who are most in lifestyle as to their wilder and apparently luckier wild kin will taste tastier.  Other manners devised most cleverly may perhaps deliver more packaged pork and portions of the formerly proudly living, manners such as feed lots, the ingenious application of industry to husbandry, the injection of all sorts of modern medicines, produce MORE meat but SURELY less good meals for the eaten and the eater.  The ravenous are feeding a frenzy of more food production.  Just as my other friend Malthus definitively showed for our populations, as surely as over-burdensome taxation will lead to a revolt among the poor masses of peasant, so will over burdening our common resources of land, air and water will spark a revolt against us, the masters, be it a just revolt or not.  Surely, prudence, even prior to any moral utterances, will lead you to agree that we should not take more fruit from this tree than it can produce.  Or more tasty lambs than the most we can take without leading to a surfeit of the wooly taste sensations.

These two epidemics are problems, even now reaching epic proportions.  However, if I may bring a simple observation to bear.  The rise of these problems is not from a callousness of heart amongst my fellow eaters;  nor is it from a willful disregard of rational and prudent use of resources.  No, I say these are the problems, but they are not the cause.  The cause is the ease of accessing slices and haunches.  The accelerator of this avarice is the abundance of meat.  A man may only have so many true friends amongst his own race.  We all know of the type who “friends” hundreds, nay, thousands of people on Facebook and other dins of false friendship.  Those are not true friends.  If a fair woman can only have so many friends of her own kind, how many more can she have amongst the other races of God’s creatures?  While it will surely vary for each person by his own temperament, more for some, fewer for the more inwardly-oriented, it is inconceivable that any one person can befriend the dozens or hundreds of friendly food sources we now consume.

What can be done?

Let me share one small story of not knowing your meat.  A small child was near me, with his dear Mama, while out purchasing.  The child, no more than six (away, Mr. Swift!), saw a lovely t-bone in a package of white, pristine foam of styro.  Innocently and sweetly, the young lad asked if the steak had grown in side its container.  Just imagine- our young future citizen had no inkling, no knowledge that today’s lunch was yesterday someone else’s leg!

Again, I repeat, again, what can be done?

Modestly, I propose a few solutions.

At the least, one should have to demonstrate the proper deference to how our lower beasts become higher forms of flavor. Just as we require a license for many basic actions- driving, hunting, fishing, teaching, practicing medicine or law- so we should have minimum requirements to permit any salivating self to sizzle up some sausage.  What would be worthy requisites?  I do not presume to tell others how to live.  However, as any learned person may observe, such licenses usually require demonstrations of theoretical and practical knowledge.   In this case, the least would seem to be an exam of many questions, some written and others perhaps oral, over the origins, proper care, means of dispatching and preparing and all other manner of knowledge to insure we know our meat.  In addition, a practicum would be to be rigorously administered.  To begin with, the future omnivore should show how to slaughter, eviscerate, and slice into useful portions any of our fellow furry friends to which the applicant wishes to more deeply forge her or his relationship.

Some critics may decry this is an expensive undertaking and wasteful.  I would respond that much expense and waste already occurs in our public schooling.  Why not fruitfully combine them?  More schools could be sited in or near fields and other habitats of creatures.  Our younger eaters could even extend the current, unproductive practice of adopting small creatures to include larger ones capable of producing more school lunches.  I daresay, relative to the Hamster or Pig of Guinea, they may likely be more pleasurable in class and in the cafeteria.

Lunchtime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A second addition to this proposal: all future flesh-munchers should from here on befriend their future meals.  We always enjoy dining more with friends, as all refined people know.  Why not enjoy dining more by repasting with and on friends?  Given that most people do not have the home or yard space for full herds and flocks of ambulatory meals, this would help address the misallocation of land resources to centralized livestock.  Each family might keep a single bovine or other ungulate, a few fowl, and perhaps a pond with some finned ones.  They could give each meal a name.  After all, we do not say “I will eat a patty of ground up chunks of cow flesh.”  We call it a hamburger.  Is it so difficult to imagine calling it a Harold-burger instead?  Or Steva for a steak?

Some critics might complain that those who by choice or necessity live in the larger cities do not have enough room for keeping their food in its more alive state.  True enough. But who amongst us does not know the problem of a lack of open, green inviting space in the cities?

Just Add Amulatory Meals!

As community gardens are spring up, so might community animal centers.  We have pre-schools for children.  Why not pre-kitchens for our new edible friends?  There is an abundance of roof space in the cities.  With newer “green” technologies, we could easily convert many to paddocks and fields and ponds.  This would be efficient and may perhaps also improve air quality in the cities.  For those very pressed for space, well, like schoolchildren, perhaps they could migrate their eating habits to smaller animals such as ferrets, goldfish, hamsters, mice, or even grasshoppers or other insects.  I have heard they are crunchy and nutritious.  If they dislike the flavor, then they have all the more motivation to become more productive and hence have access to space for tastier options.

Finally, I propose that whenever it is time to enjoy not just the company of our happy meals, but the taste as well, all licensed omnivores should have to bear the full responsibility for the whole of their friend.  Just as we do not bury only the best bits of friends and loved ones at funerals, we should not needlessly discard all the many bits and pieces of our roving dinners.  This proposal would ease the burden on our waste processing facilities.  It would expand our culinary options.  It would make the need for acquiring and dispatching tasty friends less frequent.  Do you know how long it takes one person or family to consume an entire cow, sheep, deer, or emu?  Finally, as I am clearly a lover of liberty, I would suggest for those unable to stomach stomaching sweetbreads, genitalia, or bone marrow, there would develop a healthy trade in those parts.  Yes, the omnivore would be responsible for all his or her former friend, but the invisible hand can also lead to the open mouth.

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About Jordi

I am an assistant professor in the Management School at Bucknell University. I specialize in organization theory, social networks, and studying the network society. I have three children, including twins. They love bouncing on the couch, legos, music, and my waffles. My wife teaches English at the same university. I am interested in most things, but these days, networks, social entrepreneurs, the environment, innovation, and virtual worlds. Finding Hidden Abodes and Shaking Iron Cages since 1972

2 responses »

  1. […] Portlandia Beat Me To It A friend of mine mentioned this clip of Portlandia as it beat me to the punch of know your meat. […]

  2. Jordi says:

    Reblogged this on Business, Government and Society fiVe and commented:

    This was my attempt at a modest proposal last year. I went a little overboard. By the way, if you are reading this, it is satire.

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