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Out of the frying pan
September 25, 2012 3:47 AM   Subscribe

The tragedy of climate change: the UK Pig Association is warning that due to droughts causing high pig food prices, a global bacon shortage is now unavoidable.
posted by unSane (108 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was hoping and wishing this was from The Onion, its brought tears to my eyes.
posted by infini at 3:53 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I predict loud wailing from the Holistic Baconeers of the Internet.

China has a strategic reserve of pork, by the way.
posted by flippant at 3:54 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The bacon-lover in me says "Bacon shortage? No!", and the ethicist in me says, "What strange framing. It's bad that we can't keep increasing the number of factory-slaughtered animals?"

They're like the demon and angel, one sitting on each shoulder.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:56 AM on September 25, 2012 [22 favorites]


Frankly, there were plenty of signs we had reached peak bacon.
posted by unSane at 4:00 AM on September 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


What, 15-20 years away from every affordable 'meat' product being extremely proficient textured soya?
posted by jaduncan at 4:00 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is this going to lead to rashioning?
posted by adamt at 4:01 AM on September 25, 2012 [75 favorites]


China has a strategic reserve of pork, by the way.

We may need to invade.
We'll just need to wait until they're scrapping with Japan over some lumps of rick.

Or get used to facon.
Facon is okay.

It's ham I'll miss. And thick, juicy pork chops....

Right, I'm off to make room in the freezer.
posted by Mezentian at 4:04 AM on September 25, 2012


I wonder whether this will cause a noticeable dip in cancer rates a few years/decades down the track.
posted by acb at 4:08 AM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Screw this, I'm moving to China.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:11 AM on September 25, 2012


I've been really, really close to quitting my day job and trying to open a cured meats/charcuterie shop in Japan (there are people here who'll pay •a lot• for high end food stuff) and every inch closer I get to it, the goal lines move another yard. Pork shortage? Trying to open a business based almost entirely on pork?* Woohoo! Maybe I can go back to school and get that lucrative degree in Folklore I've always wanted!

*I would theoretically make smoked salmon and other things, given the chance.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:14 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The tragedy of climate change

It's not just about climate change. The gross overconsumption of meat in the developed world, and increasingly in emerging economies, is a major factor in the increase of world food prices. And let's not forget about the impact that industrialised meat-intensive agriculture has on climate change.
posted by mattn at 4:27 AM on September 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


Is this the end of the McRib?
posted by Joe Chip at 4:28 AM on September 25, 2012


Well, son of a gun! This is not good news!
posted by HuronBob at 4:28 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


o.k., I don't want to be alarmist here, but I think it's time we should TOTALLY PANIC! AAAAAAGGGGHH!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:29 AM on September 25, 2012


However industry experts agree that even if prices soar, pork will still remain the most affordable red meat when compared with beef and lamb.

So, the news is that pork won't be as cheap here in the UK as it has been before, but still cheap. I always wondered why pork was so affordable here.
posted by vacapinta at 4:29 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


When does the Chicken Little shortage start?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:33 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


buying long pig futures
posted by thelonius at 4:36 AM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's not a bacon shortage. It's a human surplus.
posted by DU at 4:40 AM on September 25, 2012 [26 favorites]


It was as if millions of low-carb dieters cried out in terror and were silenced.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:51 AM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Although as a low-carber (thanks OC!), I mostly eat turkey "bacon" cause I vastly prefer the texture.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:52 AM on September 25, 2012


I've been noticing great prices on beef & pork at the grocery. A whole pork loin for 1.99/lb. Porterhouse steak for 6.99/lb. The butcher agreed that it's because farmers can't afford to feed livestock, so they sell, creating lots of supply. Perhaps I should buy a freezer.
posted by theora55 at 4:52 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everyone knows global warming is a hoax. Clearly, this is a plot by our secret-Muslim "president" to impose de-facto Sharia Law by eliminating all Islamic-proscribed foods.

Step 2: Bide my time, then sue WorldNet Daily for copyright infringement.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:56 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I mostly eat turkey "bacon" cause I vastly prefer the texture.

Then have I got a treat for you: fried seat belt!
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on September 25, 2012 [31 favorites]


Hah! I bet now the climate change deniers will finally start to believe! (I don't eat pork if I can avoid it, so this bothers me not-at-all)
posted by windykites at 5:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sucks to your ass-mar!
posted by not_on_display at 5:09 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


... pork will still remain the most affordable red meat...

Now I'm confused; isn't pork the other white meat?
posted by TedW at 5:13 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


You all laughed at the "a pig like that you don't eat all at once" line, but, now you are seeing the results of your shorty-sighted and unsustainable dietary practices, whose laughing?

Definitely not the pigs. Of course, no story like this is going to end happily for the pigs....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:14 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


A world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable, says Britain's National Pig Association. But British supermarkets can protect consumers from shortages and steep price rises if they pay Britain's loss-making pig farmers

It's not a bacon shortage; it's a bacon shakedown.

Industry Group Lobbies For Price Hike In Industry Product. Film at 11
posted by ook at 5:16 AM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Homer of course said it best.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:29 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where I am, feed prices went up markedly (per bag) as of August 1. We took three of our male pigs to the butcher a few weeks ago, and I have to admit that it's easier and much less expensive to feed the two female pigs we held back because they were much smaller. We're making a concerted effort to make them our scraps disposal crew (good for us, makes them happy) and they're growing nicely. But yikes, when they're gone, I'll be glad not to be buying feed for a while.

Did anyone else hear the Marketplace piece last night on farmers feeding cows salvage candy to cut down on feed costs?
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:31 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the United States the government has introduced a pork-buying programme...

It's Obama, conspiring with Big Bacon to drive up prices just like with gasoline. You see, he really is a secret Muslim.

(On preview, PlusDistance beat me to it.)

posted by XMLicious at 5:33 AM on September 25, 2012


I love bacon too but ever since I went to the state fair and had the pigs come up to me wagging their tails I feel conflicted :(
posted by triggerfinger at 5:35 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have chosen precisely the right time to go home vegetarian (i.e. veg at home, veg/omni out).
posted by sonascope at 5:35 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> It's not a bacon shortage. It's a human surplus.

Somehow this suggests an answer. It'll come to me in a minute.
posted by jfuller at 5:40 AM on September 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


farmers feeding cows salvage candy to cut down on feed costs

this is so fucked.
posted by windykites at 5:46 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in Texas...... ( see? There IS a good reason to live here.)
posted by bradth27 at 5:48 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Whenever possible I always try to lead with the hog futures, particularly in the morning." -- Les Nessman
posted by jabah at 5:50 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


farmers feeding cows salvage candy to cut down on feed costs

this is so fucked.


Only because they are feeding to pigs stuff that I would gladly eat! I don't care if a chocolate bar is broken!
posted by srboisvert at 5:59 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


end of the world came a couple of months early
posted by incandissonance at 6:07 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've happily never bought British pork from a grocery store, although surely I've eaten in in restaurants. I'll occasionally buy German, but usually I'll stick with Spanish. It's simply that the U.K. doesn't produce meat well : burgers are abysmal here, U.K. pork fairs better cannot compare with European pork.

In any case, we're basically talking about doubling the price of pork, that's quite substantial of course, but doesn't impact me financially. I certainly eat meat but mostly as a minor accompaniment to to vegetables.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:10 AM on September 25, 2012


I certainly eat meat but mostly as a minor accompaniment to to vegetables.

Cheese is a vegetable, right?
posted by DU at 6:21 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've happily never bought British pork from a grocery store, although surely I've eaten in in restaurants. I'll occasionally buy German, but usually I'll stick with Spanish. It's simply that the U.K. doesn't produce meat well

British pork is delicious. I'm not sure what you're basing that opinion on (since you mention that you've never actually bought any) but Old Spot is delicious as is Tamworth.

I've had quite possibly the best roast pork ever here in Britain from a farm called Squeaky Pig. I don't make this claim lightly, since I come from a Mexican family that really values its slow-roasted carnitas.
posted by vacapinta at 6:26 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


DU: "It's not a bacon shortage. It's a human surplus."

Long Pig Bacon is the solution!
posted by symbioid at 6:30 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shit's about to get real.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:31 AM on September 25, 2012


I certainly eat meat but mostly as a minor accompaniment to to vegetables

jeffburgers, you may be interested in my Opus 84: Concerto for Broccoli, which has an accompaniment from a sausage in D flat minor. I find it is a more successful work than my Nocturne for Asparagus - althought my favourite is probably my Tomato Sonato, Opus 35. You say "Sonata", of course, but I say "Sonato". You probably say "Potata" (which is weird) - I say "Potato". But whether Sonata, Sonato, Potata or Potato, let's call the whole thing off, because I can't actually cook. Sorry.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:32 AM on September 25, 2012 [33 favorites]


October surprise!
posted by mazola at 6:36 AM on September 25, 2012


[ vegetarian schadenfreude ]
posted by Mooseli at 6:41 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have been preparing for this day since I was a child...
LET THE BACON WARS COMMENCE!!!
posted by Theta States at 6:45 AM on September 25, 2012


I think we've just stumbled upon Romney's narrative for the next week. GLOBAL BACON SHORTAGE YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF FAILED SOCIAL POLICIES. OBAMA ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL REGARDING PORK-SOURCING.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:48 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


In one of the links, it's suggested that people eat less popular cuts like pork belly. Here in Austin, I'm not sure pork belly counts as a less popular cut.
posted by immlass at 6:48 AM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm basing it on British restaurant food, vacapinta. British sausages are usually atrocious, although some good ones exist. I've found their bacon acceptable but nothing spectacular. I've found pork quite reliably good on the continent.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:50 AM on September 25, 2012


Pork belly is what bacon is made with in the U.S.

That's actually why I vastly prefer the bacon I've had in the U.K. to U.S. streaky bacon.
posted by XMLicious at 6:52 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sheee-it, it's gonna get all "A Private Function" up in here!
posted by droplet at 7:05 AM on September 25, 2012


In looking at unSane's 'peak bacon' link, I was really struck hard, in looking at the bacon AT-AT, that probably a dozen pigs died in pain and fear, only to have their stomachs sliced into thin strips, draped over a frame for a picture, and then thrown into a landfill. That's pretty goddamn gruesome, you know that? What's next, an AT-AT made of entrails?

Being arty with bacon you're gonna eat is one thing... the bacon narwhal is great, for example. But killing pigs, wearing their stomachs, and then throwing them out? WTF? Have we forgotten where bacon comes from?

I've got no problem with eating meat, but by god, respect the life that ended to give it to you.
posted by Malor at 7:07 AM on September 25, 2012 [24 favorites]


Well, when I was in the Senate trying to get a climate bill passed, the National Pork Producers Council came in to tell me that a carbon price would raise the price of feed, and seriously depress pork production, which was already under assault by swine flu. Climate change presents those advocating for action with the least satisfying "I told you so"s in human history.
posted by oneironaut at 7:12 AM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


This makes me realize that the stupid, protracted Internet bacon craze is actually... extremely appropriate. Americans eat more meat than pretty much any humans ever have (except ourselves about 20 years ago). It's an unbelievable luxury whose apparent cheapness is the result of the most bizarre food structure imaginable.

Take a fabulously extravagant luxury, make it seem commonplace, and then see what happens when it's threatened. I don't think we'll be eating anywhere near as much meat in 30 years as we are now, and I'm very interested in what that transition will look like, culturally.
posted by gurple at 7:16 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm very interested in what that transition will look like, culturally.

A lot of angry old white men yelling that things were better in the old days.
posted by DU at 7:18 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Typical - Americans and Brits continue their eternal, miniscule war, the current chapter of which concerns "who has the best bacon" -!

Well here in the forgotten and backward continent of Australia, we abjure ALL forms of pork products, because OUR pigs can talk and they help round up sheep on our farms. I think there was a movie about one of them, actually. So we would never even CONTEMPLATE masticating the flesh of our delightful porcine compatriots. And that is why Muhammad (pbuh) is widely considered to be the greatest Australian of all, because he was of the same opinion, albeit for slightly different reasons.

Thus, once again, we proud, rugged ape-men of Australia drunkenly flop our our superior credentials and say, "Strewth! Would youse cop a bloody eyeball-full of THAT, youse bastards!" while you all back away slowly, gagging on our disgusting stench.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:25 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


LET THE BACON WARS COMMENCE!!!

Cry" Ham Hock!" and let slip the hogs of war?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:26 AM on September 25, 2012 [25 favorites]


If there's to be a shortage of bacon, I suggest that money not be the prime determining factor in who gets the bacon.

Rather I suggest that only those who are willing to watch the live pig get slaughtered in front of them subsequently get to eat the flesh:
Kill It, Cook It, Eat It: Pig Slaughter

2007 BBC3 UK Factual Event. A restaurant was built attached to a an abattoir and diners were invited to see their food being killed before eating it. The idea to get people to think about where their meat comes from and how animal are reared and killed.
And there are other episodes for beef, lamb, etc lovers, as well as a Christmas Special. All those tasty dishes started with a living thing getting knifed in the throat too.

I say anyone unwilling to watch Wilbur get hung from a hook while electrically stunned, drained of blood, and have his body carved into pieces doesn't get their bacon ticket punched when the shortage hits.

Hell, maybe once a year you have to go to slaughterhouse, take a sharp knife in your hand, and slit a pig's throat, get the blood on your hands and on your shoes, if you want your bacon-ticket punched.

Reminding people of the sharp knives, blood, and shit-filled entrails spilling onto the floor could help a lot with reducing demand.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:53 AM on September 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Wait, Bacon shortage?

OK, shit just got real!
posted by Windopaene at 7:58 AM on September 25, 2012


It doesn't mean you won't be able to get pork. It'll just cost more. Time to ask for a raise.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:09 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Peak pig!
posted by brundlefly at 8:14 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It's not a bacon shortage. It's a human surplus."

Am I the only one who thought of Deadwood?

Call me old fashioned.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:37 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm very interested in what that transition will look like, culturally.

I've got some good rice and bean recipes if you're interested.
posted by thecaddy at 8:42 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminding people of the sharp knives, blood, and shit-filled entrails spilling onto the floor could help a lot with reducing demand.
Aye, and anybody not willing to clean out sewers doesn't get to shit in a toilet.
posted by Jehan at 8:46 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]



Hell, maybe once a year you have to go to slaughterhouse, take a sharp knife in your hand, and slit a pig's throat, get the blood on your hands and on your shoes, if you want your bacon-ticket punched.

Reminding people of the sharp knives, blood, and shit-filled entrails spilling onto the floor could help a lot with reducing demand.


I've done it and it did nothing to reduce my demand. Perhaps I am an aberration as I grew up on a farm and have been quite conscious from an early age of the fact that the pig over there was going to end up on my plate sooner or later.

I actually found it to be far more fascinating than disgusting.
posted by nolnacs at 8:48 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm very interested in what that transition will look like, culturally.
A lot of angry old white men yelling that things were better in the old days.


Probably at empty chairs.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:52 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aye, and anybody not willing to clean out sewers doesn't get to shit in a toilet.

<FAIL_BUZZER>BZZZZZZ<FAIL_BUZZER>

Waste elimination is a human bodily necessity, not an optional activity. One cannot make the choice not to urinate or excrete.

Would you like to try again?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:58 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hell, maybe once a year you have to go to slaughterhouse, take a sharp knife in your hand, and slit a pig's throat, get the blood on your hands and on your shoes, if you want your bacon-ticket punched.

Sounds like a fun mefi meetup! Slaughterhouse followed by deliciously fresh bacon sarnies for everyone.
posted by elizardbits at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would you like to try again?

I think Jehan was referring to the luxury of using the sewer system, not the act of excretion.
posted by Hicksu at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Waste elimination is a human bodily necessity, not an optional activity. One cannot make the choice not to urinate or excrete.

Would you like to try again?
Not really, as you missed my point by a mile. It's not that you have to shit or don't have to eat meat, but rather that nobody wants to do shitty jobs. I'm not callow as to how livestock is killed and slaughtered for its meat. Since being a baby I've been taken into butchers with half pigs hanging from hooks, and heads on display. It's really not a surprise, and I'm happy to keep eating meat. I don't want to slaughter a pig because it's messy and shitty work. My point is that I neither want to clean out sewers, but it doesn't mean I won't shit into them.
posted by Jehan at 9:08 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


70 years ago, meat was a luxury in the US.

50 years ago, meat was a bit of a luxury, but, like other luxuries at the time, it was a lot more available than it had been in recent memory. Fast food happened, consumption skyrocketed.

Between 35 and 20 years ago, meat began to get a bad name, because of research and government policy associating meat consumption with heart disease. This had a large downward effect on meat consumption.

10 years ago, meat got a big boost from the Atkins craze.

In the last decade, meat has come to be associated with climate change and obesity.

Now we see how sensitive the supply of pork is to drought. We get to choose between eating meat and feeding more people, and some years that choice is more obvious than others.

I don't think this trend reverses itself. I think we keep eating less meat. Maybe that starts by fetishizing it less, maybe by stigmatizing it more.
posted by gurple at 9:14 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It just so happens that I wrote an essay a few days ago that solves this problem. (self-link)
posted by jbickers at 9:18 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Americans eat more meat than pretty much any humans ever have (except ourselves about 20 years ago).

Cite? Plenty of non-agricultural cultures ate meat almost exclusively. Many Aboriginal tribes had meat-based diets, and they were much healthier than they are today, now that the buffalo/salmon/seals are gone and they have to eat more sugar and agricultural products.
posted by smorange at 9:43 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


But...I want my baby back ribs!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:48 AM on September 25, 2012


Cite?

No, you're right. Correction: Americans eat more meat than pretty much any humans in large societies ever have (except ourselves about 20 years ago).

Whether it's more worthwhile to compare today's Americans with the 80s' Chinese or with hunter-gatherers depends on the question you're interested in.
posted by gurple at 9:50 AM on September 25, 2012


And reddit descends into violence and anarchy.
posted by Decani at 10:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plenty of non-agricultural cultures ate meat almost exclusively.
Sure, I can name plenty of those, but none of them were consuming amounts even remotely close to what Americans do these days. I understand the need for citations, but I'd also think that it'd be self evident that McDonalds in the US serves more meat and/or meat products in a single year than the entire Mongolian empire consumed in it's entire 162 year history.

But I'd be more than happy to do the math myself if you'd like. Most of these numbers are generally easy to find.

It's not just pure population either, we eat more than is necessary. Us Americans as a whole, it turns out, are gluttonous pigs.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:34 AM on September 25, 2012


I understand the need for citations, but I'd also think that it'd be self evident

I just want to sit here and admire this phrase. It is a marvel, a gem.
posted by hattifattener at 10:49 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ctrl-F'd long pig, wasn't disappointed.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:13 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man, the internet is about to become downright insufferable.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:33 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's self-evident that Americans eat more refined corn products than at any time in history. It is not self-evident that they eat more meat than the people that inhabited the same lands before settlers arrived from Europe. And the meat people eat today--especially pork--is much leaner than at any time in history because of selective breeding and, well, the fast food industry. Speaking of which, let's look at some numbers.

A typical Big Mac Meal has about 1100 calories, but 400 come from the fries and 200 from the drink. Another 200 come from the bun. That's 800 calories from sugar, starch, and hydrogenated oil, with little nutritional value. Protein only comprises 10% of the nutritional profile. But the problem is too much meat? Really? It seems to me that Americans are probably fat because they shop in the aisles of the grocery store, not the butcher.
posted by smorange at 11:34 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jehan: Not really, as you missed my point by a mile. It's not that you have to shit or don't have to eat meat, but rather that nobody wants to do shitty jobs.

But I think you missed his point. It's not that it's a shitty job, directly, it's that something is dying to give you that meat. And pigs are pretty clever, smart enough to know what's going on. He's suggesting that those of us who like meat should be involved in slaughter sometimes, to remind us that it's not a small thing.

Your idea of everyone taking a turn in the sewer probably isn't a bad one either. I bet we'd get a lot less toxic junk dumped in the drain. I had this image, for many years, of things just kinda vanishing when I flushed them, but they don't vanish, they travel under the streets to a treatment plant, and now they've got whatever I just gave them. If I'd had a clearer mental picture of what was going on, I'd likely have been careful about what cleaning products I used, much sooner in life, and much more aware of exactly what was going down my drains.

Again, it's not that being a sewer worker sucks, it's that it would be good for everyone to understand sewers. And, likewise, it would probably be a good idea if people really understood that living, breathing things are dying so that you can eat meat. I, at least, am not proposing that we actually take concrete steps to do anything of that nature, but it's nice to think about in a sort of vague, handwavy way.

And I'm a big carnivore, mind. I love meat. But I do think it would probably be respectful to spend some time in an abbatoir, if there was any routine way for normal people to do so.
posted by Malor at 11:52 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


*abattoir
posted by Malor at 11:52 AM on September 25, 2012


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: Waste elimination is a human bodily necessity, not an optional activity. One cannot make the choice not to urinate or excrete.

Would you like to try again?


Anyone unwilling to learn a programming language and code a web browser shouldn't get to use the internet.

Anyone unwilling to learn to weld shouldn't get to drive a car.

Anyone unwilling to spend a week in a foundry shouldn't be permitted to use metal tools.

Anyone unable to learn differential calculus shouldn't be allowed to see the results from the latest Mars lander.

...

Anyways, I doubt it would work the way you think. Nobody loves meat more than the farmers, ranchers, and hunters I've known.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Malor: I had this image, for many years, of things just kinda vanishing when I flushed them ...

It goes outside the environment!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:09 PM on September 25, 2012


China has a strategic reserve of pork, by the way.

Canada has a strategic reserve of maple syrup. Maybe we can come to an arrangement.
posted by asnider at 12:44 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cha siu comes to mind.
posted by infini at 12:46 PM on September 25, 2012


But I do think it would probably be respectful to spend some time in an abbatoir, if there was any routine way for normal people to do so.

Malor, my husband and I have a mobile poultry processing unit now, and you would be amazed at how much of one's mind is on correct process vs. respect. In my (anecdotal) case, the bulk of the respect for the birds comes during the course of their lives, in providing fresh food, water and pasture twice a day, no matter the weather. We make sure that our turkeys aren't overcrowded, and that they're not trying to peck each other to death. We protect them from predators; we don't allow kids or dog to harass them. The tractor-based birds get sun and bugs and grass right up until the five minutes or so until they're butchered. [Spoiler: Discussion of butchering coming up. Stop now if you don't want to hear it.]

The MPU set-up involves making sure there's a water line and electricity and a full propane tank, and that everything is clean. The water for the scalder has to be heated to 147 degrees F. Knives are sharpened. I retrieve a turkey from the tractor and put it into a cone...and the turkey, who has had months of an easy life, has a bad few seconds. On into the scalder for a minute, then a turn through the plucker, and then it's on to the evisceration table. Neck off. Feet off. Carcase opened up a bit. Then it's time for the guts to come out; in through the neck to loosen them up, and then removal from the hind end. Lungs, heart, crop, gall bladder (do not puncture!), intestines, etc. ... and don't forget the testes. Very important not to miss them. The best way to make sure that everything is out is to run your bare fingers along the ribs and then do a power wash with the hose, before tossing the carcase in the icy chill tank. And I'm probably forgetting something here, but those are the basics of it.

Is that respectful treatment? I think so. At a processing plant in my region, the only time that human hands touch the bird is when the chicken is caught and put on the line. Everything else is by machine. Everything. Think about that. Would seeing either thing--processing by hand or by assembly line--really change your level of respect for dinner?

I do this. And I'll do it again, because I like smoked turkey. But you know what else I like? Watching the turkeys poke around in the grass. Seeing the pen turkeys run around, doing their pointless dodo races. Spotting their brief matings. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting for eggs to hatch, and then spending six weeks looking after poults in the brooder. [Note to self: Early lighting of heat lamp can avoid having to carry around a baby turkey in the shirt for a few hours.] I even like morning and evening chores, and having my favorite birds perch on my arms.

I do think it's right to be concerned with how meat is processed. But the component piece of that is to be concerned with how well an animal destined for meat *lives,* and how respectful a life it is given.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:10 PM on September 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Aye, and anybody not willing to clean out sewers doesn't get to shit in a toilet.

Using a toilet is not a luxury, the externalities of which you are allowed to foist on others for your convenience (as meat largely is). It is actually a mandatory cost which we require homeowners and landlords take on themselves, so that the rest of us don't have to wallow in your shit. It is almost completely the opposite.

And it really is mandatory; in the rural town where I grew up, there were continual and ongoing fights with people on the outskirts of town who flouted the outhouse ban. Plumbing is expensive.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:14 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in Texas...... ( see? There IS a good reason to live here.)
posted by bradth27


On this topic... elsewhere in the world, species are going extinct because of uncontrolled/illegal bushmeat hunting. Here we have between two and six million feral pigs devastating the landscape (and habitat for other species).

Yet another example of "the world doesn't have a food problem, it has a distribution problem."
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:15 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm rather tickled by doom-and-gloom vegetarian posts. A major, world-affecting drought and crop failure, and our civilization... pays a bit more for bacon at the grocery store.

Gasoline shooting up to $3.50/gal probably had more impact on world hunger - grain was suddenly priced out of reach for the poorest nations because it was being used for ethanol. Grain for human consumption remains plentiful even while feedstock took a hit due to drought.

For reference: the typical family meal in the US in 1940.

And again 30 years ago... note that there's a lot more chicken than in the '40s. It was considered poor folk's fare back then.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:16 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyways, I doubt it would work the way you think. Nobody loves meat more than the farmers, ranchers, and hunters I've known.

Farmers, ranchers, and hunters make up a tiny minority of the American population. Most Americans live in urban or suburban settings and do not hunt. And most of them get their meat pre-disassembled and wrapped in sanitary plastic and never see the process where living animal becomes meat.

I'll bet most everyone reading this on a computer screen knows someone who loves hamburger & sausage, but can't eat meat off the bone.

THEY are the population whom (in this thought experiment) have to stick the knife into a living, bleeding animal's throat before their bacon-card gets punched. THEIRS is the casual appetite for meat that drives the environmental costs of raising animals for food (vs an equivalent volume of plant-based food), so THEY are the first one who have to look the process square in the face and be okay with it.

I come from a hunting family. I know the "respect the meat" speech and can deliver it. Which is why I'm advocating it be the suburban grocery shoppers buying plastic-wapped chicken and the urban grab-a-sausage-&-egg-croisanwich who get sent watch the male baby-chicks get conveyor-belt fed into the wood chipper (males cost more to raise than they're worth) before they get their poultry-card punched.

Yeah, overall people should be made aware of specifically what happens to the living animals that become their food, how it's done, what machines are used, and what it looks like. And THEN be given the choice.

Oh, and they have to eat something off the bone too.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:43 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is that respectful treatment? I think so.

I've helped slaughter chickens on a family farm, though not turkeys, and I know the overall process. Sounds like you're doing it very well... highly efficient by small farm standards, and very kind compared to the big bird factories.

I don't mean to sing hosannahs and pray for each animal, I just mean.... understanding that death is involved is important, I think, for using and eating meat. I try hard to waste as little as I can, while I don't especially care if vegetables spoil.
posted by Malor at 2:26 PM on September 25, 2012


It goes outside the environment!

Yeah, well, I was young and dumb, what can I say. I mean, I sorta kinda knew that I wasn't supposed to put some stuff down the drain, but I hadn't really and truly thought my way through why. It was just one of those things that I didn't truly pay attention to, and then all of a sudden it fell into place, and I was much more careful about what chemicals I bought.

I just sort of assumed that if you could buy it in a store, the sewage plant must know how to deal with it, with a few exceptions like paint, which I guess I thought would foul the pipes, not the plant. I'd never really internalized the fact that the people making those chemicals may not be nice people, they may not have my best interests at heart, and almost certainly aren't telling the sewage treatment plant how to cope with the poisons they're putting into the ecosystem.

My model of the world needed to get complex enough to realize this, since nobody ever outright drew the picture for me. IIRC, that happened around thirty for me -- being a computer geek, I wasn't terribly present in the real world. :)
posted by Malor at 2:39 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Surely there can't be some sort of problem with pouring outsized amounts of precious resources like food, water, and available land into millions of intelligent animals that we then kill, throw out the majority of, and pour the last squirts of our declining oil supply into to send the carcasses across the world so someone can have a few bites and then toss the rest into the trash!
posted by threeants at 9:29 PM on September 25, 2012


It's self-evident that Americans eat more refined corn products than at any time in history. It is not self-evident that they eat more meat than the people that inhabited the same lands before settlers arrived from Europe.
Sure, because when the Europeans showed up they had SOOOOO many cattle/pig farms that were just waiting on them to arrive.

Seriously?
posted by Blue_Villain at 4:35 AM on September 26, 2012



It's self-evident that Americans eat more refined corn products than at any time in history. It is not self-evident that they eat more meat than the people that inhabited the same lands before settlers arrived from Europe.

Sure, because when the Europeans showed up they had SOOOOO many cattle/pig farms that were just waiting on them to arrive.

Seriously?


Well...sure. American Indians didn't have domesticated food animals, but it doesn't mean they couldn't eat lots of meat, although obviously different peoples had different customs. Many tribes did have hugely meat-based diets, an obvious example being the Inuit--it's pretty hard to have a plant-based diet when you live in the Arctic. Another group with a game-centric diet would be the Plains Indians. (My main takeaway from visiting museums about the Latoka Sioux in SD was wow, these guys are obsessed with buffalo.) OTOH, tribes like the Wampanoag grew lots of corn and squash and so forth and while they also did plenty of hunting and fishing, I'm not sure they got a higher percentage of calories from meat than most Americans do today.
posted by phoenixy at 8:26 AM on September 26, 2012


Sure, because when the Europeans showed up they had SOOOOO many cattle/pig farms that were just waiting on them to arrive.

Seriously?


phoenixy has it. Many Aboriginal people hunted as a primary food source. If you read contemporary accounts, you'll see that one of the justifications Europeans used for appropriating the land was the belief that Aboriginals didn't "own" it. They didn't believe Aboriginals owned it because, to them, using the land the way Aboriginals did was wasteful. Land, Europeans believed, should be used for agriculture, not hunting. And of course the Europeans killed enough wild animals, to the point of near-extinction, (e.g. fish in the Atlantic, buffalo on the plains) that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle became impossible to sustain.

I answered you up-thread with actual numbers, debunking your claim about McDonald's. So, do you have any numbers, data, or knowledge (as opposed to belief) to contribute?
posted by smorange at 9:04 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is not self-evident that they eat more meat than the people that inhabited the same lands before settlers arrived from Europe. And the meat people eat today--especially pork--is much leaner than at any time in history

Leaner than buffalo, deer, elk, squirrel, rabbit, and other game animals which aren't bear?

I have a hard time believing that. Have you ever tried to cook any of that stuff? Even roasting it. It doesn't have enough fat on its own to cook well, and you mostly end up with dried out meat, not what we think of as cooked, unless you ADD fat.

Heck, in Never Cry Wolf, the only way the main character was able to survive while trying to emulate the diet of wolves in the northern wilderness was by eating mice whole, so he got the layer of subcutaneous fat they carry into him. The meat itself was too lean to support him.
posted by hippybear at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2012


Climate change is already damaging global economy, report finds: Economic impact of global warming is costing the world more than $1.2 trillion a year, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP
posted by homunculus at 3:54 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, hippybear, you're right. Two thoughts got mushed together in my writing there. The pork/chicken/beef that most people eat nowadays is much leaner than the pork/chicken/beef of days gone by. That said, the meat Aboriginals on the plains ate--which was game meat, mostly--was a lot different from the meat coastal and arctic cultures ate--which was fattier.
posted by smorange at 4:51 PM on September 26, 2012


Pemmican
posted by XMLicious at 5:20 PM on September 26, 2012


Slate.com: There Will Be No Bacon Shortage
"How a British trade association press release sent the Internet into a senseless panic."
Hence, the “bacon shortage”—actually a global increase in meat prices as a slightly delayed downstream consequence of the increase in corn prices.

Such an increase will, of course, be unpleasant for households used to buying as much cheap bacon as their hearts desire, but there shouldn’t be any actual shortages precisely because prices will rise.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:55 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heck, in Never Cry Wolf, the only way the main character was able to survive while trying to emulate the diet of wolves in the northern wilderness was by eating mice whole, so he got the layer of subcutaneous fat they carry into him. The meat itself was too lean to support him.

That bit was fictionalized. Eating fat doesn't make you fat in and of itself*, and sailors stranded in the arctic have starved trying to live off of snowshoe hares, which also have that layer of fat to endure the winter. Humans do a great job of generating their own fat, but it requires dietary carbohydrates - Inuit gather and dry a lot of berries, edible lichen, mushrooms and other plants in their brief summertime.

* - It does contain nutrients, triglycerides, that more efficiently store and release energy from fat. If you have a lot of blood sugar floating around free, a high-fat diet will more efficiently turn that into a chubby butt. If you don't have a lot of blood sugar, because you don't have a lot of carbohydrates in your diet, it will more efficiently emaciate you.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:55 AM on September 27, 2012


That bit was fictionalized. Eating fat doesn't make you fat in and of itself

I'm not sure I said anything about Farley Mowat getting fat off of eating mice whole. I'll accept the bits about the wolves and the mice and even him eating mice might be fiction, but so are your inferences about what I wrote.
posted by hippybear at 1:42 PM on September 28, 2012


The Colbert Report: The bacon shortage is an Islamic conspiracy, and President Obama's disloyalty to murderous dictators means another Turkish Empire.
posted by homunculus at 3:03 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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