How Much Detachment Do We Need?

Following on from our import vs seasonal debate there comes news that a Suffolk butcher has been told to stop his window display of pigs, fowl, rabbits and poultry. It seemed people power made the butcher, Richard Nicholson, take down the display of dead animals. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of meat, there is a distinct problem here. Nicholson was following a long tradition of displaying animals in his window, a leftover from the days butchers worked on traditional markets hanging pheasants on the front of the stall with rabbits and hares. This allowed people who bought from such butchers see the quality of the animal, this wasn't always reflected in the quality of the meat but what it did do is connect the consumer to the meat. Think about it, plucking a chicken takes time, it's hard on the hands as is taking out the pluck (the heart, the liver, the lungs, the anus and bowels) but it connected you with the animal. This is no way a post about how in the past they respected animals, we know this wasn't always the case, it's more about the fact that when you pluck a chicken you're not in a hurry to do it the next day. 

Consider this, if you had to prep your meat even before cooking would you bother? Therein lies the growth of processed meat and the problems we've had with the pollution of food lines by unknown meat and horse (for the record, there is nothing wrong with eating horse, if you've ever holidayed on the continent there's a good chance you've eaten it). What's wrong with what happened to Nicholson and his somewhat gruesome window display is born out of our desire to detach ourselves from food. As children many of us remember rows of dead animals in butcher's windows. It wasn't something that worried us, it was just a way of life and meat always meant animals. We learnt that at an early age. If you eat meat, something will die to feed you. A chicken with feathers will reveal a myriad of sins visited on it, from ammonia burns, to mite problems compared to a chicken that has been plucked and cleaned. We know some of these cleaned chickens have made it into the human food chain when they have been deemed unfit for human consumption. Yet, the desire to detach ourselves from food has ballooned out from our fears around meat. How many of us know the cuts for beef, pork and lamb? How many of us actually care? Not many, and there's the detachment, if it comes shrink wrapped from a supermarket we don't ask and we should be. If we don't ask then things go wrong, like horse meat in pork, pork in beef, and chicken in pork sausages, all this washed down by a cocktail of chemicals and preservatives to deceive our tastebuds. Modern processed meat is killing us and maybe if we sat down and plucked a chicken we'd consider eating less meat or certainly have more variety in our diet. Before you throw the argument at us about kiddies being upset seeing such things in butcher's windows look at what many children play today on their consoles, look at what they watch and we bet you'd sit down and talk to them about the pros and cons of playing an 18 game when they're 12. We should be sitting down with our kids and talking about the pro and cons of meat. Animals die so we can eat. We cannot escape that but we can start to respect it, demand animal welfare, understand that no part of an animal should be wasted and that there are cuts of meat that will feed our families cheaper than a pack of chicken nuggets, and will do them far better. The more we detach ourselves from where our food comes from, the more we follow the belief that someone else should do it for us the worse off we will be and those food prices in our trollies will keep going up and up as more and more animals are processed into chemical cocktail food. The more we detach ourselves from meat, the more we detach from everything else and the more risks we take with our health. Food isn't just about sating your hunger, it powers your life and if its crap food, you're going to have crap health. Sweeping it out of the butcher's window won't change that.

We'd like to thank a member of Facebook Page who brought the Suffolk Butcher to our attention. The debate continues on our page.