Where would we be without DNA testing? Otherwise who knows what might be lurking under your tomato sauce. Possibly dead cow, mad cow, lame horse or pickled panda. God forbid, it might even be tofu, tempeh or gluten.
Back in the early 1980s, long before cheap and easy DNA testing, Australia resorted to a Royal Commission into the meat industry to try and resolve the scandalous pollution of dead cattle with dead horse and dead kangaroo in domestic and export meat.
The US recently had its “downer cattle” scandal and now Europe has had headline stories for a week over horse meat. Undercover cruelty footage in slaughterhouses and factory farms is pretty common everywhere and seems to disappear like sketches on a beach at low tide, but mislabel carcinogenic horse as carcinogenic beef and all hell breaks loose.
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There’s a meaty little stink out of northern New South Wales this week which is dividing a community in two, and which could easily have, ahem, high steaks for the entire country.
After this May’s annual Beef Week parade in the NSW town of Casino, the Beef Week committee voted unanimously to ban protestors from future parades. This, despite just three of the 60 floats being protest floats.
Two floats protested the threatened closure of small local hospitals. A third opposed the coal seam gas (CSG) extraction industry. By all accounts, many townsfolk supported its sentiments. The president of Beef Week was less hospitable. It just so happens he is employed in the CSG industry.
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There are two reasons to eat less meat: its consumption is causing environmental problems and it’s bad for our health.
Last year, at a restaurant in Sydney’s inner city suburb of Surry Hills, my friend announced that she had become a part-time vegetarian. As we passed her the tofu stir-fry, we mocked her decision to only to eat meat on weekends. It seemed half-hearted, flippant, and token.
However, her reasons were compelling. Full-time vegetarianism felt too extreme, but part-time was a doable compromise that would have some positive impact. We could mock her, but it was more than we were doing. Imagine the difference we could make to the environment if we all cut down on meat consumption.
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Barnaby Joyce objected with characteristic sophistication to Peter Singer getting the nation’s top honour last week, the Companion of the Order of Australia. Various letters appeared defending Singer on following days, but all talked of his moral philosophy and honours without touching on his environmental insight which was well ahead of its time.
Back in 1990, in the second edition of Animal Liberation, Singer wrote that forests and meat animals compete for land and then outlined the contribution of deforestation to global warming and wildlife loss. He described the imperative for reforestation to avoid the worst of both.
In the two decades since those prescient words, while mainsteam environmentalists were busy with BBQ fundraisers to raise money to campaign on such pressing matters as plastic bags or disposable nappies, the Queenland cattle industry deforested another 7.8 million hectares. Globally, cattle have increased by 130 million to over 1.4 billion weighing more than the human population.
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Moe Albanese is the last butcher standing in New York’s Little Italy. His father, Vincenzo, was a butcher from Polizzi Generosa, in Sicily. Moe’s mother, Mary, also of Sicilian descent, could speak some English.
“My father said to her, ‘You ask the customers what they want and I’ll cut the meat’,” says Moe, who was delivered by midwives at a home birth on this same block in 1925 and has never left the area.
Albanese Meats & Poultry on Elizabeth St is a relic of New York. It is now being crowded out by snappy boutiques and, just to the south, by Chinatown.
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Okay, so Australians love meat. We also love BBQs and Australia Day. Mostly because it means we don’t have to go to work. But could this be the worst advertisement for meat you have ever seen?
Or just a very clever way of getting us to think about what we’re slapping on the BBQ on January 26th?
We’re talking about the Sam Kekovic/ v Melissa Tkautz v Justice Crew Australia Day 2012 video. If you haven’t seen it yet, then watch it up the top here.
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Watch out for that Christmas ham this Sunday. It might be out to get you.
A report out yesterday revealed that an embarrassing number of Kiwis (ie, several) filed insurance claims for ham-based injuries last Christmas. There were a number of carving mishaps and burns, knee and neck strains and even a crushed finger.
It’s Wednesday. What’s on your mind, folks?
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Here’s a new way to think about what you’re eating every day.
Next time you’re standing in front of the fridge, pull out the most processed item you own and make a call to the manufacturing company that produce it. Ask them if you can come around and take a look at the factory, and see how they do things.
If they agree, prepare to be horrified, says Jonathan Safran Foer.
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BBQs are an excuse to feast on too much flesh. But sometimes, the carnivorous offerings at said gatherings are less than they might be.
There really is nothing worse than turning up at a barbie to find cardboard sausages from Woolies, boring old chops and no condiment other than tomato sauce.
This is not to subscribe to the growing cult of food wankerism. It’s just to say that a BBQ should be an excuse to blacken some quality meat cuts, rather than an event where the worst meat imaginable is cooked outdoors. There’s more to it than that.
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It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the general public finds itself dismayed and outraged about our live export industry, which transports our happy, healthy cows to deepest darkest Asia to meet a cruel and violent death, at the same time as our government is preparing to transport our refugees to the very same region and it’s only the Greens and the usual bleeding-heart refo activists that are arcing up.
This week, we heard Senator Sarah Hanson-Young hopes to thwart the Government’s plan to send refugees to Malaysia – where refugee treatment includes the occasional caning – by introducing an amendment to the Migration Act that will oblige Julia Gillard to seek the Parliament’s permission before sending refugees to a third country.
The opposition will support Hanson-Young out of sheer contrarianism rather than concern for human rights. But she’ll take her support where she can get it, since the tens of thousands who signed online petitions and wrote to their local members begging them to save our cows don’t seem to have much compassion left over for the human cargo.
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According to Bob Katter on ABC’s Q&A last Monday night, stopping the live export of cattle to Indonesia would add three million people to the 80 million Indonesians who currently go to bed hungry. According to Katter, stopping the trade was cutting off the protein food supply to three million people. Nobody disputed this.
Katter blamed Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) for not fixing the cruelty problem. He asserted that the cattle producers who had phoned and abused him didn’t know their animals were being treated this way.
It’s a pity we don’t have the equivalent of a driving test for politicians. Something to verify that they have basic numeracy skills before they can stand for Parliament. I’m not too concerned about literasy, what harm duz a few misspelled wurds do anyway? But get the numbers wrong and all kinds of stupid decisions are made.
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The recent revelation that new Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery has a contract with Meat and Livestock Australia shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody who read his 2008 Quarterly Essay Now or Never: A sustainable future for Australia.
But I think both the relationship and the essay demonstrate that Flannery is not the right person for the job.
Flannery’s advocacy in Now or Never of abundant meat as the answer to global food problems is like suggesting private jets to solve transportation problems.
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We like to think of ourselves as a nation of animal lovers.
We bay for blood when a woman throws a cat in a bin in the UK, or a team of huskies is massacred in Canada, and are brought to tears when a Queensland hero risks his life in the floods to save a kangaroo from drowning.
Yet every single day there are stories in the shadows we miss.
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I am not a vegetarian. But I’m trying to be one because the killing of animals bothers me.
As a city-bred child the first time I saw an animal being slaughtered was while seeing the film Apocalypse Now, and I had trouble coping with watching something die. “At what exact point did its life end?”, I remember thinking.
It was the final scene in the Cambodian jungle, the setting for insanity and hell, when the poor cow was hacked gradually to death by a slight man with a machete. The initial impact was a mere tap. The cow wobbles a little, its legs faltering. The second and third strikes open up the back of its neck revealing the spine and a translucent red, and the legs give way to the huge dying mass above them.
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People are discovering that food costs are soaring, electricity and government charges including water charges are on the increase and many families are needing to find savings in the family budget.
If recent reports by the United Nations are any indication then the savings can come from this unexpected phenomenon.
The worlwide non-profit initiative to promote Meatless Mondays and Fishless Fridays is encouraging the voluntary rationing of certain foods. This is not new as rationing was common practice during both World Wars.
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