Brian (digibri) wrote,

Alton Brown on Mad Cow Disease

Smart guy, too bad I choose not to have cable as I can't see his show.


It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World

I push my way through the brush but not wanting to be detected stop just short of the open pasture. As I take position with my binoculars I can see that a drama is already in progress. A trio of hungry Herefords have managed to separate an injured Angus from the rest of the heard. Despite the Herefords’ casual stance the air is charged with tension. The Angus pretends to lick at its injured hoof but I suspect it’s really plotting an escape route. The Herefords are well aware that the big Angus could do them serious damage if they’re careless, so they wait.

Finally the tense tableau is broken when the Angus is distracted by a small patch of clover. Driven by instinct he turns to pluck what will be his final meal. The Herefords’ pounce en masse and quickly take the bellowing Angus down.
I try to look away as the Herefords gorge themselves on the fresh kill, but find that I cannot. No matter how many times I witness this kind of bovine on bovine savagery I never seem to get used to it. But hey, that’s nature, right?

No…that’s not nature. Cattle are not cannibals. They are turf munchers...cud chewers, and they are meant to feast on the salad bar that is open pastureland. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or “mad cow disease” results when the people who raise cattle feed them chow that includes the brains of other cattle that were infected. Why would anyone want to feed cattle to cattle? Economics of course…it’s a cheap way to bulk up feed. And why would someone want to do that? To get the price of beef down. Why? Because we like it that way.

That’s right, Mad Cow disease isn’t the beef industry’s fault, it’s not the USDA’s fault, and it’s surely not the cattles’ fault. It’s our fault.

That’s right…you and I are to blame for the fact that hundreds if not thousands of animals will have to be destroyed because of the threat of BSE. We are to blame because our culture has come to value two qualities above all else: “cheap”, and “more”. How else can you explain the cancerous creep of Wal-Marts across our landscape, or the ever swelling American waistline?

You think wanting “more” for “less” is just good sense? Well let me tell you what you get: more of less. By demanding the cheapest beef (and food in general) we announce to all that we don’t place much value on our bodies, or the bodies of our children. We don’t value the pleasure of flavor, and we don’t value life. If we placed a little value on the life of the animal who’s dying for our dinner, maybe we wouldn’t demand that it be cheapest, and in many cases lowest quality, meat on Earth. Maybe, just maybe if we ate beef once or even twice a week rather than making daily pilgrimages through the fast food, drive thru, biggie-size feed lot, we’d be able to afford quality meet from an animal that was raised on honest to goodness grass.

I imagine that this newest mad cow threat is going to make a lot of folks angry. I just hope it makes them angry enough to vote, not in elections which may or not be useless, but with money. Believe me, every dime you spend is a vote…a statement of what you believe in and what you value; which lines you’ll cross and which ones you won’t. Me, heck even if I didn’t have a taste bud in my head I wouldn’t want anyone feeding ground up cow brains to beef cattle on my behalf anymore than I’d want to set one foot in a Wal-Mart.

Some things are more valuable than “cheap” and “plentiful”.

Put your money where your mind is.

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