By Janet Goulden, Cheshire Show, Knutsford, CC (by)

by Janet Goulden, Cheshire Show, Knutsford, CC (by)

This is not a post about e-learning or technology – but it does relate to my personal learning journey and stemmed from a variety of media – online and broadcast, as well as online and face to face conversations. Some months ago SBS had a show about a food critic who moves to Tassie and becomes a farmer. Called Gourmet Farmer, the show was a wonderful view of Tassie and had some lovely food stories. There was one episode that has started me down a path I didn’t expect. In this episode, it was time for a pig who was purposely raised for it to go to slaughter. He led the pig out of the pen and it looked up at him with trust on its face (and yes, I know I’m anthropomorphising here, but pigs are said to be incredibly intelligent) and waddled up the truck to its death. I looked over at one of my cats reclining nearby and he had what looked like to me the exact expression that pig had. I sobbed for 10 minutes.
Babyback ribs

Babyback ribs by me

Last month, the Australian news magazine show Four Corners devoted a show to the live export trade Australia has with Indonesia.  I will admit to being too cowardly to watch it. But I heard about it on Triple J’s Hack, and the sound of fear and pain emanating from a mistreated animal was chilling beyond anything ever manufactured by a horror movie. It was guttural, primal, raw and just the thought of it makes me cry as I type this. It shocked so many that politicians put a suspension on trade and are pressing for Australian standards to be introduced. But what are Australian standards? What’s the inside of an abattoir look like? Linda McCartney has been widely quoted as having said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be vegetarian.”  So I thought I’d try to find out. I found a YouTube video series “From Farmgate to Your Plate” that had one story that was obviously meant to present a positive image.  The cattle are stunned, then I didn’t see what happened next but the next shot you see is them having their throats slashed. The stunning supposedly renders them unconscious. I then sought out a video on Halal abattoirs. This Belgian Halal abattoir video made me ill. If you are familiar with Halal or Kosher abattoir practices and this video is not typical, please let me know. In the comments, someone claiming to be a veterinarian says that throat slashing, no matter how well done or how sharp the knife, causes pain to the animal. Another abattoir video that is supposed to demonstrate a model pig slaughter facility looked cruel as hell to me. At 00:00:48, the worker is holding down a struggling pig with his foot as he puts a metal band around its hind foot and hoists it up for throat gouging. Videos like this give me hope that there will be better lives for pigs in Australia but the training package only recommends REDUCING hitting, slapping, kicking and prodding of animals. Videos like this that show what is allowable under law make me shudder. This Lateline story From Farm to Fork regarding food labelling also give me pause. Terms like free range, farm fresh and cage free regarding eggs are open to interpretation —  unlike ‘organic’ which is a standard. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do yet, but some of my initial thoughts are:
  • I’m going to ask my butcher where he gets his meat and insist on free range
  • When I go out, if the restaurant can’t tell me if meat is cruelty free, I’ll eat fish or veggie
  • I am NOT going to eat pre-packaged food that can’t provide info on where meat content has come from
If you have ways you avoid meat products resulting from cruel treatment to animals, I’d really like to hear from you.

1 Comment

  1. This is something that’s important to me, too. For me I’ve found Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage series fantastic, especially the series that look into chicken farming and fisheries – really tries to raise awareness of exactly how food gets to your plate.
    My solution is to only eat free-range or organic meat (although never veal, ever – that’s a whole different story), eggs and milk. Because we live in a small town, for us this translates as essentially only eating chicken sometimes and vegetarian the rest of the time, since that’s what’s available. Occasionally I can find local, grass-fed beef at the farmer’s markets. And when I eat at restaurants, I only ever eat vegetarian. The biggest thing that irks me is when people say they can’t afford free-range or organic – if I can’t find it or afford it, I don’t eat it. Most people won’t even consider vegetarian as an option/solution.
    I agree we need more transparent standards – as my mother pointed out today, even if something is truly free-range, there’s no guarantee it hasn’t been given hormones or antibiotics, or been force fed. My take on this is that, even if what I’m buying isn’t guaranteed free-range, by buying it it shows that there is a demand for free-range and organic meat. The meat industry, like everything else, is a demand-driven market, so I vote with my wallet and hope that the principle will eventually support the practice.