Saturday, February 12, 2005

More on Meat
You may wonder where yesterday's rant against Tyson came from. There is a large Tyson plant near where I am currently living and as I have been doing research on immigrants (mostly from Mexico) in the area, it became an unavoidable issue. Tyson recruits among the foreign community here - it is the only people who are willing to work there. A student of mine has actually been following the case closely as part of some collaborative research we are doing.

As the student and I have discussed the project and where to go from here, I suggested she look into the consumption side. What are people concerned about when they purchase beef? Is there any way to inform them of the struggles and dangers workers in the meatpacking industry face? Would they care?

The only concerns consumers seem to have is the price of meat. For the few who have other concerns, they focus on one of three issues. The quality of the meat, the safety of the meat, or the treatment of the animals themselves. No one seems to think about the workers who labor to bring the cuts of meat to your table.

Let me illustrate. Take a look at the site for Whole FoodsMarket on meat. Now, I must say that I love shopping at Whole Foods (although there isn't one anywhere around here) and I have purchased meat there of very good quality. The page goes into detail how the beef is safe and natural, thus addressing the health concerns the consumer may have. It also discusses how the animals are treated humanely, thus addressing some of the ethical concerns of consumers. There is no mention of the meat packers in the slaughterhouses, however. I don't doubt that Whole Foods is probably concerned with the ethical treatment of workers. The fact that they don't mention it just illustrates that it is not a concern for consumers, even the enlightened Whole Foods consumer.

Consumers are more concerned about the ethical treatment of animals than of people. I am not saying that people are more important than animals, but there should be at least equal concern. Should there not?

It is a sad state of affairs.


On a separate meat related note. As I was watching television this evening, I noticed a commerical for Pizza Hut featuring the muppets. In one scene, Miss Piggy is about to eat a slice with pepperoni on it.

Is that not cannibalism?

That too just seems very wrong.

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