Monthly Archives: October 2011

How It’s Made (Well, Partially Anyway)

From the “tactful omission of information” department:

The other day I was on Netflix, eagerly absorbing episodes of a show called How It’s Made, which is like little pieces of mind-candy — bite-sized nuggets of How They Make cast iron cookware, ketchup, swiss army knives, contact lenses…fascinating stuff.

In amongst these mostly neutral items are individual episodes which mention how they make things like pet food, hot dogs, deli sausage, fur coats, smoked ham, black pudding, and bacon.  To watch this show, none of these things seem to involve living animals in production — fur coats, for example, begin with a stack of tanned beaver pelts which apparently grow on trees or simply appear out of some other dimension.  Hot dogs begin with “trimmings”, the origin of which is not discussed in detail.  Hams “come from the hind leg of a pig”, but how they get them off the pig is not mentioned.  In the “pet food” episode, no meat is mentioned, until the very end where they mention that “animal fat” is sprayed on the (up til then) apparently completely vegetarian, wheat- and corn-based food “to make it palatable”.

I know the show isn’t about animal rights or animal welfare, and adding the bit about how they kill the pig/beaver/etc is extraneous to their message.  I just find it interesting (not bad, just interesting) how they gloss over the, er, “sticky” bits of information in their pursuit of a neutral-as-possible sound bite.

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