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Method of Termination/Capture

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One thing I have wondered about is whether the method by which animals, like chicken, are terminated might have an impact on the quality of the resulting meat. Apart from "humane" effects for the chicken, could the method/speed of death affect the quality of the resulting flesh?

Could you please discuss whether you cook capons? If you do, does the castration process bother you?

How do you delineate which fish you would serve and which you would not (apart from the tastes of fish)? Are there some fish which are clearly not threatened with respect to population, but which you would not serve because you believe the processes by which they have been captured are not appropriate?

What are your views on (1) farmed fish, (2) the utilization of whale meat by the Japanese and certain other groups, and (3) the impact that method of capture might have on the quality of fish and crustaceans (including small boat, diver, line-caught)?

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Another series of great questions that will require some time to answer...must go get ready to cook for dinner, so I will answer these in a day or so.

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I believe the method of termination or slaughter of an animal definitely has an impact on the quality of the meat. When animals are terminated under extremely stressful conditions, their bodies are loaded with adrenaline and other fiber-stressing compounds. The presence of these compounds is debated to change the process of rigor mortis in a way that negatively impacts the flavor and texture qualities of the meat. Blind taste tests have indicated distinct flavor differences favoring humanely terminated animals.

Aside from this, there is the aspect of respect for the life that is taken in order to sustain the life of the taker. While the termination of an antelope by a mountain lion might be a horrific death for the antelope, humans will consume many more antelope than mountain lions. When we show mercy and respect for the life taken by choosing a more humane method, we validate our obligation as intelligent beings.

I believe it should be disturbing to any human who take any life. When I was nine, I begged my grandfather and uncles to allow me to kill a chicken by ringing its neck. I had watched them do it countless times and thought it would be “cool” to do it myself. They asked me if I was sure about wanting to kill a chicken, and I didn’t hesitate to say yes. When they caught and handed me the chicken and explained the method I was to use, I was amazed at how very alive the chicken felt in my hands. Then I tried to wring its neck. No matter how hard I tried, I could not wring the chicken’s neck. It made terrible noises of suffering and flailed to the point where I could no longer hold on. My uncle or grandfather (can’t remember which) grabbed the chicken and ended its suffering.

This experience profoundly effected me in a way for which I was unprepared. I was deeply disturbed and saddened that I had caused a living thing so much suffering. I never thought of anything other than humans as being truly alive until I felt the life of that chicken. I think anyone who eats meat regularly should have to personally take the life of an animal. This might result in a less cavalier attitude toward the suffering of animals under current agricultural practices.


I used to love capons until I found out they were gelded. Just like castration for a capella singers or African tribal women, removing an essential part of the passionate life force of any being to increase our own pleasure is greed motivated. This is only my opinion. While humans may chose personal castration or rearrangement of their sexual life force out of vanity or sexual greed, I seriously doubt that any animal (all of which are strongly driven by true instinct) would ever agree to being castrated. A good quality whole chicken should be good enough for any of us.


Like many chefs, I am struggling to catch up on issues of fish. The ocean is so large and mysterious, it will be decades before we truly understand how we have impacted the seas. If the history of our effect on everything else holds true, I bet my lottery winnings on the realization that we’ve probably done far more harm than we are aware of. I defer to Seafood Choices Alliance as they have put together a consortia of marine biologists, chefs and other experts who are far more qualified than I to determine what species are best for consumption with limited impact. I also am proud of the work of Chef’s Collaborative for taking the issue to our members and offering real solutions to the many dilemmas through the Seafood Solutions campaign.

I will always favor methods of harvest that limit the destruction of habitat crucial to other species in the ocean’s food chain. I look forward to learning more about this subject. History teaches us that indigenous people of many lands successfully harvested many species that today are endangered by modern harvesting practices, which, while providing cheap seafood to the public, actually provide more profit for the trawler companies because of harvest volumes.

Farmed Fish:

Fish farms use the same environmentally and human health destructive techniques as factory meat farms. Fish feeds are laced with growth hormones, antibiotics, meat coloring compounds, etc., in order to achieve maximum growth yields and tonnage per acre -- just like land based factory farms. Instead of slowly leeching in to our waterways through runoff, these unnatural compounds are being directly applied to waterways, severely damaging these ecosystems and preventing the eggs of wild fish from hatching because of the silt caused by the countless tons of feed that isn’t even consumed by the fish.

Whale meat:

I don’t know enough about this practice to comment.

Method of capture of seafood:

I have only recently become aware of some of this. I understand how the dredging of scallops can be very destructive to the environment form which the scallops are harvested. Line-caught is not as indiscriminate as trawl netting. Nets don’t care what they catch and kill and, therefore, have a greater negative impact on oceanic environments. As far as the effect of harvesting methods on quality, I believe all methods of commercial fishing are violent to the fish (excluding true dive catching and spearing) and will not make a difference in eventual quality. I do believe the amount of time a boat remains on the water effects the end quality because of freshness.

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