If you’ve ever visited another country or even enjoy a foreign cuisine chances are your eyes have been opened to many different ways of doing things. One of the major eye openers I’ve experienced as a traveler is how different the food is in other cultures. As my family dined on a Dim Sum meal in Boston’s Chinatown, my little boy was served chicken feet. He bravely accepted the feet and began chowing down. And as a good guest, so did I. I had to separate myself from what I was doing, and try to enjoy what those around me were calling a delicacy.
Chicken feet aren’t the typical American fare, however, they don’t stray too far from a familiar food. But what about bugs? Rats? Or even horses? These meats are very popular in many cultures around the world. However they seem to make us squirm. Should they?
Americans may be serving horse meat to humans in the near future. Are you ready?
Actually, America has a long history of slaughtering horse meat for human consumption. The slaughter houses in America shipped their meats to many countries, most commonly Europe. Any slaughtered meat left in the states was often used for zoo animals and dog food. However, in 2007 the last horse slaughter house shut its doors due to a congressional ban on funding horse meat inspections. This bill was pushed by slaughter opponents who couldn’t get an outright ban on horse slaughter, but they could get the inspection money taken away, which got the job done.
Right after the slaughter houses closed, the economy fell apart and nearly every day a new cut is being made to trim the budget. On November 18, President Obama signed a spending bill into law that lifted the ban. There is no new money to shell out for inspections and the Department of Agriculture will have to find the money in its budget to cover the slaughter house inspections. Regardless, the ban is lifted and, according to slaughter house owners, the business could be profitable in only two weeks. Finding the funds may not be a risk for the Department of Agriculture.
There are many people on the pro side of this issue. Those who are losing money by shipping horses to Mexico or Canada for slaughter. Those who have recognized a huge growth in horse neglect and abandonment since the ban. And many are supporting this issue because it will bring many jobs to hurting Americans.
What’s right? It’s hard to tell. To many Americans horses are like the family pet, or an icon. We have horses with television careers in our country. Is turning them into meat acceptable?
There is argument that the drug residue left behind from the worm medication and anti-inflammatory medications makes horse meat unsuitable for human consumption. Others argue that those issues are regulated just like every other food and that horse meat is in fact very good for humans.
In fact famed Scottish-born chef Gordon Ramsey urged the public to eat horse meat. He stated, “I’ve eaten horse,” and that the meat is healthy, full of iron with less fat than beef and more healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
This is a hard pill to swallow. Yes, old horses have to be disposed of properly, but is turning them into dinner the right choice? Obviously horses are served around the world, but would the American culture embrace this? The ban may just allow slaughter houses to continue what they’ve always done and ship the meat to the parts of the world where it’s desired. It’s hard to imagine horse meat becoming mainstream in this culture. It’s doubtful that the new law will have Americans ordering horse burgers from a drive-thru window.
December 1st, 2011