by Raju Peddada
For my children: A-R-B-K
[Author's note: The systematic cruelty, slaughter, and consumption of animals is the very definition of corruption. The organized religions and the meat processing businesses are the fecund carcasses that nurture this corruption, of not only our bodies, but minds as well. Meat is administered early, despite the delicate constitution of the child, as a prerequisite for the induction into their religion, just like circumcision. Is there anything more contemptuous than corrupting the integrity of your own child's body? Even after eons of religious savagery, we still cannot wean ourselves away from cruelty, nor the taste of it. It's a devastating addiction, and, any moral extraction from this depravity could potentially be a call to war. Think about it -- if governments were to ban meat to save our health and environment, the least for the moral reason, who would we hear from? The meat industry for certain, through their powerful lobbyists, but it would be monotheistic religions that would be up in arms bristling to shed more blood (what's new here): How dare these infidels and secularists violate and spread blasphemy against the one true God's own decree: to kill and eat animals?!]
(Swans - April 8, 2013) Recent headlines not only corroborate my stand, but amplify the environmental siren as well. Meat has become the largest and the most insidious agent of global corruption, posing a direct threat to our health and environment. When would any reason or realization excise us from our fanatical and unhealthy taste for animal fat and flesh? When will we take ownership of our actions?
Here is a salad of headlines and excerpts from recent articles in the media:
Time Magazine, 2/17/13
Nestle Finds Horse Meat in Beef Pasta Meals:
"Nestle issued a statement: 'our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products made from beef supplied by H. J. Schypke -- the levels found are above the one percent threshold the UK's Food Safety Agency uses to indicate like adulteration or gross negligence.'"
Financial Times, 2/16-17/13
Horse meat scandal is sub-prime cut:
"The food industry has long known that processed meat is susceptible to fraud."
Financial Times, 2/16/2013, article by Louise Lucas of London and Neil Buckley from Rasnov, Transylvania:
Demand for cheap food drives hard bargaining in global supply chain:
"'Properly cared for,' says Florin, 32, 'the mare maybe good for another decade of farm work. After that 'she goes to the abattoir' says Niculai, 17. 'And then she's salami.'"
Professor Karel Williams, an expert on food supply chains at Manchester Business School, refers to "deconstructed euro-animals." Different parts are sent around the globe. The so-called "fifth quarter" -- offal, feet, and parts considered unappetizing in much of Europe -- is increasingly going to China. (And back to the U.S., through packaged food products.)
Regulatory checks and balances may exist to outlaw adulteration but they cannot prevent it. Indeed bulking out staples with cheaper ingredients has flourished as incomes dwindle. A Mediterranean supplier was caught milling up Moorish roof slates with similarly colored paprika.
The food industry will be required to feed an extra 2 billion mouths by 2050, with roughly the same amount of land. People are not just eating more, but more meat and other resource-heavy foods. Meanwhile, industry is trying to appease policy-makers' calls for healthier food -- while batting off any efforts at legislation to ensure they do so (talking from both sides of the mouth).
It appears that one cannot visually distinguish between horse meat and beef until an analysis is conducted at the DNA level. Why does it matter whether it is horse or cow meat, it's all "edible." It's like saying cow shit is better than horse shit! Apart from the cellular structure under a microscope, all meat is skin, fat, tissue, bone, muscle, tendons, and blood. It is one messy mass of maggot soil -- most consumers cannot distinguish, but are hooked on the animal fat that is highly addictive.
Wall Street Journal, 01/11/2013
KFC's China flap raises question: When to disclose?:
"Louisville, KY based Yum brands has been one of the most successful foreign companies in China with more than 4000 KFC outlets... Yum gets about 50% of its revenue from China.
On November 23, 2012, the state run newspaper alleges that a KFC supplier had been raising chickens in unsanitary conditions, and was using hormones and antibiotics to grow "quick" chickens in 45 days."
Wall Street Journal, 01/11/2012
Forecast is Grist for Grains:
"Corn, wheat futures jump as USDA projects supplies will dwindle by summer.
The USDA forecast Friday that domestic corn stockpiles will total 602 million bushels at the end of August... At the current pace of consumption the U.S. would burn through that much corn in less than 20 days."
Wheat can substitute for corn in animal feed. Wheat also climbed 1.4% in futures trading. Demand for crops to feed cattle, hogs, and chickens has stayed high, causing the USDA to raise its estimate Friday for how much corn animals will consume. Grain prices drive the cost of feed. The slaughter of pigs by U.S. farmers to reduce high feed costs has likely been "a little bit slower than people would've thought." If that trend continues, farmers and ranchers may find themselves scrambling for feed before next fall's harvest arrives. (Genetically engineered corn, with high sugar/starch content, is fed to animals to bulk them up, and, we eat the animals, which bulks us up -- brilliant!)
For those of you who think this is some sort of a witch hunt, here are some facts:
One bushel of corn kernels (56lbs) needs 1473 BTU for production equivalent to 0.43 kWh.
One pound of apples requires 1.67kWh to produce.
Beef growth at 0.021 kWh / pound / day = 31.5 kWh for a pound of beef.
Corn is 390 calories per pound, at 102% in energy efficiency (due to stored sunlight)
Apple is at 216 calories per pound, at 15% energy efficient.
Beef is 1176 calories at one pound, and 4.3% in energy efficiency
To expand animal feed production, tracts of rainforests the size of Rhode Island are put under tractors every year in South America.
Animal farmers also have another marketing ploy, "grass fed meat," meaning forests are being cleared for pastures -- in both cases, untold, and unknown species of animals/plants are disappearing, without ever being researched or documented for their potential benefits, or significance.
These frightening facts are stranger than most horror fiction. It is not surprising that China's 2012 Nobel Prize winner in literature, Mo Yan, bites into it, and gives us a new work of caricature on the Chinese meat industry, titled Pow! Mo Yan, meaning "don't speak," is apparently an inviolable critic of the regime, but more so of all the hypocrisy. In his Nobel lecture he said "you will find everything I need to say in my works." Here are some excerpts from a review.
Financial Times 01/11/2013
Appetite for Corruption: A story of unbridled rapacity mirrors China's path to modernization -- Review by Krys Lee.
"Pow! by Mo Yan, is the story of a family and a village that mirrors China's dramatic and troubling path to modernization. The teenage narrator, Luo Xiaotong recounts... Lan, the village head and savvy businessman makes his fortune selling water-injected meat preserved in formaldehyde to outsiders.
A relentless appetite drives more than one character. Xiaotong's compulsive, erotic desire for constant consumption for animal products is matched by Lan's hunger for power and money. Meat's omnipresence and omnipotence in the village becomes a means of critiquing the rampant corruption and hypocrisy of socialist China.
Pow! echoes the social realist novel "The Jungle (1906)" by Upton Sinclair in its depiction of corrupt practices within the meat industry. The vast new meat plant merely standardizes and legalizes the same corrupt, illegal treatment of meat that was practiced in the village before, the animals are treated brutally...The corruption and opportunism surrounding meat in this novel can be read in the light of a series of scandals in China concerning food safety. (Read "The Jungle" by Sinclair... as relevant today, as it was in 1906.)"
Wall Street Journal, 01/12-13/2013
Going The Whole Hog:
A getaway in Texan Hill Country where hunting, butchering & snacking get rock star treatment.
No excerpts here. This was a full-page report by a smitten Matthew Kronsberg, under the category Adventure & Travel, that catered to what seemed to be the religious/conservative right. And, for the lack of a better title, I'll call it The Gruesome Getaway that is infinitely boar-ing. The article is about an "adventure" of a meat orgy by our contemporary Neanderthals. It's nothing but another deviation from winter boredom, at the expense of their humanity, and I dare say sanity, by men with skin-deep machismo and Viagra erections, with high-powered rifles that could blow away an elephant from a mile, to shoot grazing bison or boars. The box quote was: "The price of flinching was vegetarianism. I could not make the stakes any higher." Inverse Darwinian model -- what have we descended to?
MSN News, 02/22/13
Federal Budget Cuts will layoff meat inspectors
U.S. Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack had reiterated that the furloughs (the politically-correct word for permanent layoffs) for meat inspectors might be unavoidable under the automatic spending cuts scheduled for March 1. Without Federal Inspectors on hand, the 6290 U.S. meat & poultry plants would have to halt operations. (Enjoy the fresh cuts!)
India: UP Minority Welfare Ministry's exhortation to minorities: Eat cow meat!
Recently, the Minority Welfare Ministry of the Indian Central Government issued a divisive book titled Poshan that is being distributed in minority-dominated areas of Uttar Pradesh. The gist of the book is its profession of serving chicken, cow meat, and vegetables to children to increase oxygen and iron in their blood.
Politically, it is an instrument of polarization by the Indian National Congress to motivate and mobilize the minorities for the next elections. From a religious perspective, this book is a perfect example of religious insensitivity, which actually infers a Muslim authorship. What is obvious is the glaring absence of pork. How would Muslims react if an anonymous author would write and distribute the merits of pork in their countries or communities? Do you think that the Muslims would yawn like the Hindus did over its release? Would anybody doubt a paroxysm of fatwas on the author, acts of terrorism, resulting in the death of hundreds? The Indian majority's equanimity and pacifism is admirable, but somehow it feels like the Hindus are bleating sheep, led by their collective nose, by the Muslims and the Christians to their slaughterhouses.
The consumption of meat, as decreed by the organized religions, had been the basis for friction for ages. Muslims are ordered against pigs, the Hindus don't eat cows, the Buddhists and the Jains strictly abstain from meat, but the Christians eat everything. These doctrines have pitted one religion against another, giving impetus for religious extremism: the violation and desecration of one another's faith. Muslim hysteria is guaranteed, whenever they are trespassed, but they have deliberately and systematically violated the Hindus by going on slaughter sprees of the cows, in the very midst of the pacifist majority, in India, from the 11th century onwards.
Apparently, this issue has not been deliberated on for its effect on national health. Meat-diet illnesses are cumulative in nature, the consequences: heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, renal failure, and cancers of the colon, esophagus, and blood, to name a few. How will India, with no health care infrastructure, be able to handle this problem once meat becomes a dietary mainstay? Why are the epidemiologists in India silent -- don't they have enough stress? Why does the majority behave like wet cats at this transgression, and why not promote the goodness in plant-based foods? Even the literate yet myopic middle-upper classes of India have jumped aboard the meat wagon, which is, headed for the precipice.
In Chicago, there are two major dialysis firms, Davita, and Fresenius, that serve almost ten million patients nationwide in end-stage renal disease. Who are the patients? They are mostly blacks, and whites of the Bible belt -- meat fanatics. The environmental destruction caused by meat could be visualized in a clockwise flowchart: Religious decrees>Animal farming/slaughter>Mass-meat/fast food industry>Health-care industry>Burials (land and trees). The vicious effect on the environment is incalculable -- at an individual level, meat is infinitely more destructive than tobacco or cocaine/heroin can ever be. The meat industry uses the same playbook, the identical deviousness and manipulation, like organized religion, in inducing consumption by constant and strategic proselytizing (advertising). In the West, our investment into our external hygiene and appearance is inversely proportionate to what we eat -- it's sad.
The concept of total domination, as promulgated by monotheism, is fundamentally flawed, as it goes against the universal and natural values of sharing the environment with other beings. If there is a God, why would he allow his primary creation to destroy the rest of his creation -- does that compute? I am a borderline agnostic, my immediate and extended family constitute Hindus, Muslims, Catholics and Lutherans as well, and if I had to appease them, then I would be offending my conscience -- and, my conscience would ask: "Would I be able to eat a pound of flesh that required hundreds of gallons of water, and 31.5 kWh of energy to produce? Would I be willing to kill another being, and destroy my environment, just so I can tickle my taste buds, or acquiesce to some religious nonsense?" Nothing is more exasperating nor infuriating than people who spittle environmental baloney from one side of their mouth, while the other side is chewing on animal flesh!
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About the Author
Raju Peddada is an industrial designer running an eponymous brand, purveyor of ultra luxury furnishings of his own design (see peddada.com). He is also a freelance correspondent/writer for several publications, specializing in commentary, essay, and opinions on architecture, design, photography, books, fashion, society, and culture. Peddada was born in Tallapudi, a small southern town in south India. He's lived in New Delhi and Bombay before migrating to the West Indies and eventually settling in Chicago, Illinois, where he worked in corporate America until he chose to set up his own designing firm. He lives with his family in Des Plaines. (back)