Spontaneous thoughts from reading Issue #31 of Dish Magazine

If we are prepared to kill an animal for the purposes of eating it, then we have an obligation to eat the whole thing – not just the tenderloin piece that doesn’t look much like part of an animal…

As much as I love meat, I need to know that the animals I have played a part in killing have had a nice life…

I will not cook animals that have had their diet manipulated so they taste different, or so that certain internal organs will swell to exploding…

I want the food I cook to taste of its place, I want it to taste of the land it roamed. I want terrior in my meat, not terror.”

~ Chef Jonny Schwass, Terrior, not terror, Dish Magazine Issue #31

Post-article-reading-(see above)-thoughts as follows:

I still remember that trip to a wet market in Hong Kong when I was around 7. The chicken stall was packed – with squawking chickens and squawking customers. It was a flurry of activity; colourful and pungent. We picked a chicken and the man chopped its head off… before it promptly leaped off, it seemed, and ran; headless, frantic, colliding with things and people in its blind confusion. I was shocked into silence; I don’t think I ate dinner that night.

As a child, though, I was used to seeing the whole bodies of animals we ate. None of it was hidden. We picked fish and carried it home while it jumped around in the plastic bag before being turned into lunch. I have eaten pigs’ blood, ducks’ tongues, frogs’ legs, fish cheeks, chicken wings, beef tripe, fish roe, kidneys and intestines. It sounds stark and cruel now, even to my own ears, to recite this list.

Yet, perhaps the way I eat meat now disturbs me more on some level than how I used to eat meat. In recent months, I’ve had moments where I’ve stood staring quizzically at the neat packages of chicken fillets and beef mince in supermarkets. Unable to identify what it was that glued my eyes to them, what it was that inspired a little discomfort in my mind.

Let me just say here that this is not a post about me turning vegetarian – oh, no! Oh, the sensation of eating a plump juicy roast chicken! – but I think the issue of meat needs some working through for me personally.

Lately, I’ve been thinking sporadic thoughts about meat – scrambled, jumbled, disconnected thoughts. That sometimes, meat seems to taste like “less than what it should be.” That I feel uncomfortable when I see people eat meat like they eat chips; thoughtlessly, excessively, without respect. That I detest mince – the smell, look, taste. There was an evening recently where I wondered if all the guilt of eating animals had finally penetrated my cold heart, if I had been committing a lifetime of sin eating meat.

Well, I’ve deduced tonight that it’s not the eating of meat that bugs me.

Perhaps it is our attitude to meat (no respect?), our disconnection from what it is (when’s the last time you saw the head of the fish you ate?), our wastage of food (just the tenderloins please, throw out the rest!) and the scary way we buy into marketing more than we realise (oh beautiful boxes, how I love you processed foods). Also, meat is just one example of a whole lot of other things we may not be realising…

It’s time to think: What are we eating? What are we buying (and thus perpetuating)? What are we dis-engaging ourselves from? How are we affecting our world with our choices? What is our attitude to life? What are we nourishing (or ruining) our bodies with? Who profits from our choices, and should they be the ones profiting? I remember one of the first few times I started thinking more about such things was upon reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan last year (good book).

Still alot to think about, perhaps at another time (not 1.13am as it is now).

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5 responses to “Spontaneous thoughts from reading Issue #31 of Dish Magazine

  1. Mmm so true… I know how you feel Mel! I’ve often found myself pondering the same thing. Especially when there are people I know who always want to eat meat, seemingly the more the better… but later complain about getting fat! I guess that’s what happens when food is so plentiful and easy to obtain.

  2. I’ve just finished reading Bad Food Britain, and it says similar things about how the aim there – from buyers and sellers both – seems to be to conceal completely the origins of what you’re eating. Not good.

  3. Jian – meat & fatness – reminds me of ’06, lol! ;-)

    Anne – Yes, totally agreed! How I wish all would know the wonder of natural goodness.

  4. I’ve had very similar thoughts in the last year or so, I’ve eaten meat all my life, seen animals slaughtered on my uncle’s farm from a young age and don’t plan on going meat-free, but there’s a niggle of discomfort in the back of my mind in the way consumers are increasingly disconnected from the food they buy and consume.

    I don’t know if you have read ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ but I’d recommend it: a family tries to eat only locally produced food for a year. The narrative can be a little preachy, but it’s fascinating – and like the author did, one day I *will* make my own mozzarella. I have a copy that I can pack up in my luggage and send to you if you want it?

    Anyway, the sentence that really stuck out at me was, ‘How we eat determines the way the planet is used’ I’m no eco-warrior but I think that hit the nail on the head – consumers demand cheap meat and treat it as an infinite resource rather than the luxury it once was, but it has to come from somewhere, and what’s the cost of that?

  5. Pingback: Thank you for the music… | treehousekitchen

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