Monday, May 19, 2008

Whip 'em, ship 'em, bleed 'em and eat 'em
A not-so-romantic view of Oregon. . . or Livestock Auction: Reason #1 why I'm considering becoming a vegetarian

On my way to Eugene yesterday, I pulled over to this cafe that ADJOINS a livestock auction. The sign said "LOCAL BEEF."

So in one door, you're right where the auctioneer and the cattle are parading around and through another door is the restaurant.

Manure, Moaning Cows and Marionberry Pie
The Cafe was full of old cowboys and fat ladies with 80's hairdos. The owner was a woman wearing too much make-up who kept calling me "sweetheart." I sat on a stool by the bar considering if I should order some marionberry cobbler when I stepped on something that looked like turf/manure. Turf/manure speckled the entire floor. You could hear the faint noises of the auctioneer and possibly if you listened closely enough, moaning cattle being beaten into submission. How's that for AMBIANCE? I bought a cookie wrapped in plastic and left. I couldn't bring myself to eat it.

Here's the place, check it out!

I asked the owner about the "local beef" and she said..."I don't do that anymore." So apparantly, the sign on the Cafe was WRONG.

They don't serve hamburgers with the meat from the deranged cows out back. Good thing, right? The farther away from the battle-scarred, prodded, whipped, freaked-out cow, the better. I can say this with authority because afterwards my curiousity got the better of me and I went around to the corrals at the back where cows were herded through stalls and into a place where they were auctioned off.

Of course, the smell of manure is always a welcome thing since it reminded me of growing up in Idaho (really, I'm not kidding.)

I flipped on my video camera and got a little footage of a gestapo-like guy (I'm not exaggerating this) smacking cows with a whip and calling them filthy names ..... "you stupic b*&&*, you MF, you....bleepity bleep"... and snarling. It kind of freaked me out actually. My blood pressure rose and I kept trying to film it but my digital camera card memory was OUT. I did get a little footage, though you can't hear the words. The cowboy wielding the whip was scrawny with a sweat-drenched white shirt and a shaved head. His hair was buzzed short, but in spots, splotches of white scalp shown. He looked as beat-up as the cows.

I'll add the video to this thing later it won't give you the affect it gave me, but on some level it feels wrong. Wrong that we treat animals this way. Wrong that we "expect" that it's just "part of the life," said the guy who was herding the cattle. Sure, I have NO idea what it's like to herd cattle. I'm not cut out for it.

The video, is sadly not much of an expose due to my pathetic digital camera.

One of my friends lives on a ranch in Montana and her husband herds bison. She said it's a nasty terribly dangerous job. One of the bison kicked him in the face and almost shattered his skull. Is it possible that these guys are just fighting for their lives. It felt like the cowboy was and the cattle was as well.

Here's what I came to: animal abuse, is it the rule or the exception to the rule? It was horrible watching. And I don't think I'm being overly-sentimental about the cow. But I wish this kind of tension didn't exist in our food system. Should it? Is it possible that the steaks and burgers we love to stuff our faces came from mostly sick, stressed out, stinky, abused cows? I don't blame the cowboy or the rancher. I don't. I blaim our obese beef-obsessed culture for our greed for flesh at any cost. And I admit that I'm a part of the problem too. Who else is to blame but us beef eaters?

This video footage taken by an animal rights activist and is what created the largest recall of meat by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a California slaughterhouse that provided meat to school lunch programs.

Term to know- Downer Cows: A live cow that can't walk because it's sick or injured.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Wow. Great multimedia post! And you are so careful to not blame the people who have ended up in the cattle industry, which I think is smart. We are all the problem. Everytime I tell someone I'm eating vegan now they never fail to ask me where I get protein from, if not meat. There's a lot of missing education.