Monday, January 30, 2012

Let Them Eat Horse - Misplaced Concerns

Do you remember a few months back, when people got all up in arms over the administration lifting a ban that would seem to lead to everyone eating horse meat?

I LOVE horses. Love love love them. No, I don't even ride, I've never properly learned, but I love them. I love being around them. I don't even mind the smell of their manure. (Cows, stinky. Horses, earthy and mild.) My favorite job was on a horse farm, just me and about 100 horses for 8 hours at a time. No humans. Just horses. And the occasional rat or skunk. I learned horses actually DO lay down to sleep when they feel most comfortable and safe. I learned that mother horses are FIERCE about their offspring, and actually teach them manners, often better moms than some humans I have seen. I found that there is almost nothing quite so comfortable and comforting as leaning up against a horse as it contentedly munches on hay.

Did you really think this was horse?
So was I outraged when, back in November, it was announced that the Obama administration was somehow incomprehensibly clearing the way for people to eat horse meat in this country? No. I was actually amused (if not more than a little annoyed) at the reaction of most people. 1) Most people have little or no idea what the reality of the situation was. 2) It wasn't like this little piece of legislation was going to have horse meat appearing at your local grocery store. 3) There are so much worse things to be concerned about in the food industry, yet these things go largely ignored.

Let's examine these points, shall we?

1) Here's the reality of the situation: They lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections. Did anyone catch that part? This is not a new situation. This lifted a relatively young and new ban on FUNDING INSPECTIONS. Most people got all up and huffy thinking (incorrectly) that suddenly the Obama administration said, in a bill, "Go eat horse." No. It did not even allocate money for funding the inspections. And with the USDA being woefully underfunded, nothing was going to happen immediately anyway. Reality: There was a slaughterhouse in Illinois that butchered horses until 2007. Where was the outcry then? (Oh - that's right - we didn't have Facebook to get all up in stupidity about stuff we don't really research.)

2) Reality: there WERE slaughterhouses open when no one thought about it, but the meat went to other countries. As it is now, if such a place were to open, the meat would still get sent elsewhere. And it would only open after a lot of controversy and opposition anyway. But, again, injecting reality in there: I have been to livestock auctions. I have seen what goes down. It's not pretty. You get a cow or horse that is too old to be of use to anyone or anything... it's not a nice warm-fuzzy situation. At present, horses get shipped to Canada or Mexico to get slaughtered. Where's the outcry for American jobs on that one? Huh? (Yes I am being facetious.) Lifting this ban does NOT change the FACT that consumption of horse meat is still under another ban in most states. California is one.

3) People I know got their undies in a huge wad from this. And yet, Monsanto goes unknown, BPA is everywhere, and high-fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy things are consumed left and right. We're getting better with the Monsanto thing, and BPA is getting more well-known, but we still eat and give our kids the crappiest stuff. But by all means, let's get up in arms over the sale of horse meat, which isn't even a real problem, while these things and SO many more ARE real problems. Let's focus on buzz words and false panic, while we continue a ban on growing industrial hemp. Let's blow things out of proportion while stuffing cancer-causing chemicals and additives into our obese kids. Where's the outrage over much, much, MUCH worse stuff going on in our foods???

Nothing to see here.