I once heard it said that you would never eat a hot dog if you knew how it was made.
It’s interesting to me how little we talk about meat production. You can’t find a lot of detail, honestly — and what detail you do find is not generally produced by “real” journalists, but by animal rights organizations, so there’s this tendency to dismiss it. Mainstream journalism does not show you the killing floor. We show World War II and the evening news but we just don’t mention to each other how sausage is made.
Isn’t this the kind of thing you’d want to know? Don’t we want our kids to be informed consumers? I ate hot dogs for *ahem* years before I found out — not what they’re made of, but how they kill the animals that go into them — I’m not sure at what age it would have been appropriate to explain the concept to me, but I strongly suspect I would have stopped eating hot dogs a lot earlier if someone had shown me what was going on. All I saw growing up were watered-down, polite news stories, which had very little detail. I got the vague feeling I wouldn’t like what I saw in there, but I never had the chance to see it, and I didn’t look into it in detail. I grew up pre-internet — there wasn’t a lot of media available on the topic at the time.
It might also be argued that, when my grandparents bought sausage, the pig involved was personally slaughtered, as humanely as possible, in a low-volume slaughterhouse, and had likely spent a reasonably happy life in a grassy field, doing nothing much. When my parents asked my grandparents how sausage was made, they got that story. That’s the story that got passed on to me. Meanwhile, out of everyone’s sight, technology was changing….
Maybe there ought to be school field trips, or contests — although I’d probably pass on having to yank a soggy “Bacon Ticket” from the inside of a sausage. Clearly this needs to be a reality TV show.
There’s a lot more to this, of course, and I’m interested in whacking around the idea that constant exposure to this kind of thing renders it “normal”, and that’s why, say, cattle ranchers don’t understand why vegetarians are so squeamish about eating meat. Moving past that idea…if exposure to it renders it “normal” — do we then want to tell people about it? How do we tell people about it? If we hear about it, in graphic detail, every day, will we still be as horrified, as motivated to act?