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Meat and Morality

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I'm far from agreeing with him, but Saleton makes an interesting argument for changing our dining habits -- while growing stem cell beef -- in the Washington Post.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Very, very interesting. I'd like to see stem cell research used to save humans first, of course, but have little doubt we'll grow our own meat before we save people from horrible deaths.

I'm not at all pleased about genetically engineered vegetables and feel doubly so about meats.


"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office

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Hmm... I read this as nothing more than Saleton trying to incite change in our society -- per his own moral beliefs -- without the fortitude and decency to do it personally on his own. Back to your steak, Bill! Hopefully you can't talk with your mouth full.

His moral beliefs? A quick internet search uncovers a few columns with the same general theme, and he's certainly not shy about his vat-grown meat pet project. He wrote:

I say this as an animal rights sympathizer.

So here, he sets up a strawman and then rips it down to prove his point. So we're half-evolved because we can both love animals and eat them? I guess we then must aspire to be fully evolved and give up on meat. I guess PETA got to write his evolution manual.

And then he links meat eating to animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, slavery, the subjugation of women. Again, PETA seems to have given him a few ideas with their disgusting "We are all animal" campaign. Actually, he might have gotten those ideas when he wrote a column at least partially defending that campaign and adding his own call for the end of "butchery of higher mammals."

Finally, he also throws out a few non-facts to confuse. No fat beef? No thanks. Good fat transplanted from fish? Grass-fed beef is already rich in omega-3, thank you very much. Replace bird flu/mad cow/salmonella with the much greater risk of a monogenetic engineered food source? Now that's mad.

They'll want to know whether we saw the moral calling of our age. If we do, it's time to pony up.

Perhaps Saleton should first? Meanwhile, I need to finish off my steak...

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What absolute, utter fucking twaddle. The use of a phrase like "cognitive dissonance" while taking the side of a cult like Peta is highly ironic. The only cognitive dissonance I see here is that any reader with a a few neurons left bouncing around in their noggin will realize that the only ethically and intellectually valid response to this article is to hunt down the moron author and beat him senseless with a frozen T-bone steak -- but what we'll actually do, is just roll our eyes and hope that the nadir of our mass media has finally been reached.


Edited by Grub (log)

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After reading these responses, I had to click on the link to read the thoughts of this crazy man. But I thought his opinion piece was interesting, and when he says things like this:

The case for eating meat is like the case for other traditions: It's natural, it's necessary, and there's nothing wrong with it.

I can't see him aligned with PETA. Maybe I'm missing something.

That said, I don't like the idea of growing meat. I don't like the idea of continuing to slaughter animals like we do now either. I'd rather see slaughtering be a safer (for humans) and more humane (for animals) than it is now.

I also would like to see us return to the day where we respected the animals we ate by using every last bit of it. If you are going to eat its meat, then use its skin and bones for clothing and other such items.

But overall, dogs don't have a problem eating a steak and then hanging out with me, and I don't have a problem eating a steak and then patting a dog. And if I was going to have a problem with eating meat, it would have to do more with the energy used to produce it (it takes 28 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef) than any ethical or moral dilemma caused by playing with Fido or watching a thoroughbred win a race.


Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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...(it takes 28 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef) ...

Really? Where did you get that number? Doesn't it depend on how the beef is raised and processed?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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...(it takes 28 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef) ...

Really? Where did you get that number? Doesn't it depend on how the beef is raised and processed?

There are lots of sources that quote a variety of numbers, so it all depends on who you are willing to believe. Most colleges and magazines give numbers anywhere from 15 to 35, while I have seen 80 on websites of animal activists.

No matter what figure one chooses to believe, I think you're right -- it would depend on how the beef is raised. A big chunk of those numbers are the fuels used to raise, harvest, and transport grains to the cattle -- grains grown where they have to import fertilizer because they are nowhere near the cows. Cattle that graze on fields and then sold locally are going to use far less fossil fuels than cattle fed transported grain products whose meat is then shipped all over the planet, or imported from another country.

While it would be interesting to see how economical it would be to "grow stem-cell beef," I think I still would prefer the locally raised meat I currently buy.


Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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i might have missed something but when he says "grow meat" does he mean that the strands of protien that make up the animal will come out fomr the ground or that they can reproduce the textures and tastes through vegetables?


bork bork bork

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No matter what figure one chooses to believe, I think you're right -- it would depend on how the beef is raised. A big chunk of those numbers are the fuels used to raise, harvest, and transport grains to the cattle -- grains grown where they have to import fertilizer because they are nowhere near the cows. Cattle that graze on fields and then sold locally are going to use far less fossil fuels than cattle fed transported grain products whose meat is then shipped all over the planet, or imported from another country.

"Field" is a very, very broad term. I believe the term you are looking for is "pasture"

From Wiktionary

Noun

pasture

Land on which cattle can be kept for feeding

and clarified by dictionary.reference.com
pas·ture    ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (pschr)

n.

Grass or other vegetation eaten as food by grazing animals.

Ground on which such vegetation grows, especially that which is set aside for use by domestic grazing animals.

The feeding or grazing of animals.

So, untilled, "fallow" land, used for the growing of unsown plants which are then eaten by grazing animals.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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i might have missed something but when he says "grow meat" does he mean that the strands of protien that make up the animal will come out fomr the ground or that they can reproduce the textures and tastes through vegetables?

Actually, I think he means to grow it in a petri dish or commercial equivalent....


Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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I have no doubt that, some day, humans will eat mostly synthesized food, and will look back at the practice of eating animals as utterly barbaric. I'm just glad I was born before this happened. Chances are, it will never taste as good as the real thing.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Interesting note, FG. Personally, I look at it as barbaric that people suggest we do things we didn't evolve to do. Which is to say, we are nearly obligate omnivores. We ought to be proud of that.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I have to say, this trend scares me. But not for any reason to do with bioethics or health. But because food inevitably derives it's greatest, most intoxicating tastes from complexity. The hundreds of thousands of different chemicals that all come together into a tantalising melange of flavours that rolls smooth across your tounge.

Think of free range chickens, allowed to forage for natural seeds and grubs and how their feed adds a depth of flavour. Or think of a brisket or oxtail, made intensely beefy and assertive by constant exercise. Or a long aged cheese like parmesan or roquefort, the low slow fermentation giving pungency and headiness.

Almost all of the great foods of the world revel in their complexity: bacon, tomatos, strawberries, salmon, bread, wine and many more. Tasting inferior versions of these against superior ones is night and day. They both have the same basic notes but the greatness comes purely from the added depth and intensity.

Nature is inherently complex, every clod of dirt, every blade of grass is packed full of variation and randomness. With manufacturing however, order holds sway. What are you going to feed manufactured muscle? How many trace chemicals can you add to it before you reach the point of diminishing returns? And how is it going to taste? If it sells for 1/10th the price of real beef, is the general public going to care how it tastes? Will people forget and then become repulsed by the taste of real beef just as corn fed beef has made people dislike not only grassfed beef but game and stronger meats as well.

Cows may be a hugely inefficient method of producing meat but the meat they do produce tastes damn good and it would be a shame for it to disappear.


PS: I am a guy.

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Cows may be a hugely inefficient method of producing meat but the meat they do produce tastes damn good and it would be a shame for it to disappear.

Cows isn't the problem. Corn and soybeans is. Our production of calories from them is a huge funnel in and of itself.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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What absolute, utter fucking twaddle.

I do like someone who gets right to the heart of the matter. Couldn't have said it better myself, Grub :raz:.

....but what we'll actually do, is just roll our eyes and hope that the nadir of our mass media has finally been reached.

If only we could be so lucky :raz:. But I'm not very optimistic :wacko:.


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Mr Saleton only makes me want to line up early at Ray's the Steaks.

Perhaps he'd be happy if Soylent Green isn't too far off. :laugh:

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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When I think of stem-cell beef, I think of the protenous analogue to those unfortunate hydroponic tomatoes.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I have no doubt that, some day, humans will eat mostly synthesized food, and will look back at the practice of eating animals as utterly barbaric. I'm just glad I was born before this happened. Chances are, it will never taste as good as the real thing.

we may look back in disgust but if the synthesized foods we have today are any indication than we're doomed.


bork bork bork

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When I think of stem-cell beef, I think of the protenous analogue to those unfortunate hydroponic tomatoes.

exactly. I *love* tomatoes, but I'll turn down a hothouse or hydrophonic one since they taste little better than ketchup-on-cardboard.

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Interesting. Reminds me of Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, with genetically engineering Chicken Nobbies - chickens grown with excessive numbers of body parts (like 12 drumsticks):

What they were looking at was a large bulblike object that seemed to be covered with stippled whitish-yellow skin. Out of it came twenty thick fleshy tubes, and at the end of each tube another bulb was growing.

"What the hell is it?" said Jimmy.

"Those are chickens," said Crake. "Chicken parts. Just breasts, on this one. They've got ones that specialize in drumsticks too, twelve to a growth unit."

"But there aren't any heads," said Jimmy. <snip>

"That's the head in the middle," said the woman. "There's a mouth opening at the top, they dump the nutrients in there. No eyes or beak or anything, they don't need those."

--- page 202, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Yum.


Edited by viva (log)

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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What absolute, utter fucking twaddle. The use of a phrase like "cognitive dissonance" while taking the side of a cult like Peta is highly ironic. The only cognitive dissonance I see here is that any reader with a a few neurons left bouncing around in their noggin will realize that the only ethically and intellectually valid response to this article is to hunt down the moron author and beat him senseless with a frozen T-bone steak -- but what we'll actually do, is just roll our eyes and hope that the nadir of our mass media has finally been reached.

Cognitive dissonance is pretty much exactly how we operate when it comes to meat. We all do. And it has nothing to do with PETA. The world is now very well set up for us to be this way, particularly at this stage in the food distribution revolution, with all cuts of meat in shiny shrink-wrapped packages. If cognitive dissonance is not in play with cows and sheep and pigs why in the world is it taboo in this country to eat guinea pig or horse or dog if not for the fact that we (the collective 'we', not you and I) can't gain enough distance from the fact that these are well-loved companion animals for many people.

That is not to say that cognitive dissonance is a bad thing. I mean it would be hard to enjoy a nice pork shoulder if all you could think about were the details of the slaughter of the pig whose flesh is on your plate.

I think the article is fairly thought provoking, particularly in light of what FatGuy noted: some day technology will bring us to this point and, very likely, at that time enlightened souls will think that slaughter is unacceptably cruel. Will be a sad time for us, I think, but it will come.


Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Cognitive dissonance is pretty much exactly how we operate when it comes to meat.  We all do.

Oh, I'm afraid I must beg to differ... First off, lets make sure we agree on what cognitive dissonance actually entails: behavior, opinions or beliefs that are completely incompatible. It was originally coined to describe the behavior of cult members who saw the date of a prophesied event come and go with no apocalypse or UFO landings whatsoever -- yet they continued to believe, in many cases even more fervently.

Cognitive dissonance might be to oppose the killing of animals for food, yet eat meat -- clearly a completely irrational stance. To eat meat while being uninformed about what slaughter exactly entails, is something entirely different.

The article descibes the act of eating bacon while petting your dog as cognitive dissonance, and that is clearly incorrect. Some people eat certain types of animals, but for a variety of reasons, avoid others. This does in no way entail cognitive dissonance. Proselytizing vegetarian like to throw that term around like a five dollar word, but they don't actually understand what it means -- big surprise there.

It's like, "Timmy ate his carrots, but he won't touch his Brussel sprouts! He's being cognitively dissonant again!" :wacko:

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That is not to say that cognitive dissonance is a bad thing.  I mean it would be hard to enjoy a nice pork shoulder if all you could think about were the details of the slaughter of the pig whose flesh is on your plate.

No, it's not hard. You just have to realize that anthropomorphosing toward non-human creatures is the unethical act. When you treat a pig like a pig instead of a human, you stop having those problems.

But, I would tend to not eat dog because they run too much. Makes for tough, stringy meat. Likewise, I would not eat a marathon runner.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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