I’ve always had a lot of respect for Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. However, after the episode that premiered on December 7, 2010 titled “Custom Meat Processor” my respect for him has grown exponentially.
For those of you who don’t know what a Meat Processor is, it’s a Butcher. It’s just the more politically correct term. I was impressed by Mike because this particular Job he was on involved a Mobile Butcher. This is a person(s) who goes out to a location, usually a farm or ranch, and they perform the whole process that spans the butchering of the animal, dressing of the carcass, and then preparation of the various cuts of meat available on the individual animal.
What was amazing was the fact that Mike did the job from beginning to end. That’s right, he actually put the animal down, with a bullet to the head and then bled the animal out by cutting the jugular. They didn’t show much of that part out of respect for their more squeamish viewers, but we did hear the shot, and we saw the squirting blood. He did the most difficult part of the job, and he put his all into it.
Mike was very surprised at how much more humane this type of butchering was when compared to the gigantic processing plants we have.
Personally, I really feel that people need to see how their meat is processed from beginning to end. They have no respect for their food. So many people find it easy to just accept that their food comes pre-packaged from some farm where meat just grows pre-cut and in the package.
I’ve been fishing on and off for several years. I don’t really believe in catch and release as I feel if you’re going to cause harm to an animal, then you’d best have a reason for it. In my case, my intention is to eat what I catch. I kill my own fish, and it’s not always clean, but it is quick. My youngest sister killed her first fish when she was only 11 or 12 years old. Was it easy for her? No. Absolutely not. Matter of fact, it was a hard lesson learned.
You see, she didn’t understand why I clocked the fish on the back of it’s head, therefore severing the spinal cord. I tried explaining to her that it was the most humane way available to us in the field. When she finally felt ready to try killing her own food, she didn’t get it quite right, and she got scared. I took it from her and finished what she’d started.
On the next fish, she insisted that we simply remove it from the water like the other people she’d seen. I didn’t like doing this, but I understood that this was something that she needed to see. So, we let the fish pass away slowly outside of the water. When she saw it gasping, and suffocating to death, she almost cried. However, she looked at me and said that she understood. She killed the final fish of the day, and she took her job seriously. She now kills all of her own fish, and many of mine. She feels that it is her responsibility to ensure a quick passage from life to death for the animals she’s chosen to eat. As a side note, she also cleans all her own fish now. She’s getting very good at it and her dexterity with a knife increases every season.
I went through a similar experience the first time I acquired rabbit for myself and one of our dogs (she was fed raw). There’s a woman who raises meat rabbits about a 40 minute drive from where we live. I purchased 3 rabbits, and I chose all 3. I insisted on watching the butchering and bleeding process. When the first two were done, I also insisted on killing the last one. If I was going to eat these animals, and use their hides, by God I was going to look the animal in the eye and give it the respect of dying by my hand.
You know what? That was some of the best meat I’ve ever had. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that they were fed a good quality feed, and were treated well. However, I also think that because I’d had a hand, though a minimal one, in the preparation of my food it tasted better.
Was it harder to butcher the rabbit than the fish? Yes, it was. I’ve always thought of fish as unthinking and simply a food source. With the rabbit, though, I had one as a pet as a child; her name was Dusty. Yet, these rabbits had been raised for food.
I know a lot of vegans are going to be horrified by my post, but the fact of the matter is that plants also emit a distress call when cut, or pulled out of the ground (two studies can be found here, and here).
I don’t eat much meat, but I do eat it. I think it’s very important to know where your meat comes from, and once I’ve have the ability, I will do my darnedest to either raise my own or procure my meat from a source I desire to support.