Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about morals and ethics regarding agriculture and especially meat and its production methods… And it got me into thinking… Since when are people concerned with the MORALITY of eating meat? And why did this all of a sudden come about..? Why all of a sudden am I being required to justify why I kill and eat animals for a living…?
Meat was a huge part of evolving us to where we have become as humans today. Paleontological evidence suggests that meat constituted a substantial proportion of the diet of early humans. Hunter-gathers depended on the organized hunting of large animals as a main part of their food source. As time evolved, meat was considered a delicacy. In times when social hierarchy reigned supreme, people who had the most money ( the rich) were the ones who enjoyed the best and largest quantities of meat. Meat could have been considered a sign of wealth. Not everyone could afford meat and for those who couldn’t, it was often saved for special occasions and holidays.
When the promise of a New World with land became a reality and early settlers first landed here in the United States, people settled on farmlands and raised their own meat. For the first time in our history of a people coming from Europe, more people were able to provide for themselves. As well as enjoy some delicacies that were only allotted to rich people back in Europe. But as we grew as a society, people moved out of the farmsteads and into newly formed cultural epicenters or cities. Eventually the idea of a supermarket or grocery store came about in order to supply those people with a means to obtain food to feed their families. Soon, grocery stores and supermarkets became the food supply and the disconnect began. And as we grow, the disconnect continues until eventually we become so far disconnected that the average person relies on news media or people outside the industry to provide them with the connection of where their food comes from.
Now today, as we move back towards mending that disconnect between where our food comes from, an issue of morals suddenly arises. Suddenly meat is no longer viewed as the delicacy it once was. It does not hold that social status it once held. Why is it that the closer we move towards people finding out where food comes from.. the worse the sensationalism gets? The more my industry is battered and beaten up by the news media.. Between Pink Slime, Meat Glue and The New York Times running it’s Ethics of Eating Meat Contest, why should my morals regarding meat all of a sudden be in question when historically it was never questioned before?
My take on the issue is YES, emotion should play a key issue in food production and relating to our customers, consumers, whatever you want to call them. But morals… morals is a sticky road to go down. What is moral to one person may not be moral to the next..? And what defines our morals..? Upbringing, religion, experiences all can play a factor in what is MORALLY right or wrong to us. Everyone’s experiences and perspectives are different. So who are you to question MY morals..? What gives you the “moral high ground” to question the way I choose to eat..?
Rarely do I ask for feedback on my blog posts, but I’ve asked this question a few times on several social media outlets. The responses are so varied and to see different perspectives is really fascinating. And really, there is no RIGHT or WRONG answer here. Morals are morals and everyone’s is different. So now I am asking it to my readers.. I invite you to comment and give your two cents on if you think morals should even play a role in meat..? And why all of a sudden this issue of morals is brought to the forefront…?