Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When the Rubber Hits the Road

Karen's before and after pictures of Puck, our former rooster, God bless his soul (see "A picture paints a thousand words" at http://holesinmyjeans-kpannabecker.blogspot.com/), provoked a wide range of responses from "rooster killer" to "I'm proud of you; you're a real farmer now."

I'm reminded of the scene in "Julie and Julia" where Julie's husband wanders around the apartment singing "lobstuh killuh."  What strikes me most was his silence when Julie cooked boeuf bourguignon or duck.  Frankly, it's kind of like the millions of world citizens who ignored (and some still ignore) gas ovens in Germany, except, so far as we know, human roasts weren't shipped to supermarkets.  Okay, that's a rather extreme comparison.  Instead, think of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, who provided Mrs. Lovett with cheap meat for her pies.  Did you laugh when they sang "try the priest" or "the financier, peak of his career?"

Vegans and vegetarians, you're not off the hook, by far.  Take a fresh green bean, cut it in pieces, and look at it under a microscope.  What are those little things moving around?  They're not vegetables.  Do you think the farmer that grows the vegetables you eat avoids killing creatures as he drags his plow, cultivator or hoe through the soil, which, by the way, has likely been amended by pesticides and fertilizers that animals eat, get sick from, and die?  Moreover, unless you're buying locally grown produce, lots of petroleum has been consumed getting those plants to your kitchen, and as we all know -- but ignore as part of our typical mass denial -- kills not only animals but some on the top of the heap, humans, now and future.

I'm also curious about the distinction we draw between heads of lettuce and beef or pork.  Consider the gentle plant, which produces its own food from (non-living) nutrients it obtains from soil and air.  Unlike a pig or a cow, it doesn't need our daily help.  Instead of rewarding it with respect, we eat it without a first thought regarding its death and sacrifice

"Wait a minute," says Virginia.  "Do you think we resent the independence of vegetables, which is why we eat them without remorse; that our egos object to being at the killing of pigs, cattle, chickens, turkeys and so forth because we made them?"

"Hmmm," I say.  "The next time I lop off a head of lettuce I'm going to be more circumspect.  And hey, you meat, fish and fowl eaters, be there or be square!"

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