In which I wonder: are you kidding me?

From all over the place and Snopes.com. Originally posted in the Daily Journal, Kankakee, Michigan.

 Can this be? Is somebody somewhere having a huge laugh watching this thing go viral? Or is this truly possible in our alternate American universe?

I would never believe that this was anything but a joke except for one thing. I actually know people struggling to maintain this kind of convoluted relationship between their brain, reality and food. Most of them would never go this far  but they can get pretty riled up in their heated rants against hunting.

Of course, I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t understand that somehow the package of plastic wrapped meat they found at the grocery store was at one time a living, breathing animal. They just choose to press that bit of fact out of their rational everyday thoughts.

For a long time, one of my pet peeves has been misleading marketing. As I’ve grown older and hopefully matured, I find my understanding and beliefs about marketing have deepened and evolved. Having spent much of my adult life working in sales and marketing, boy do I understand the spinning of a message. And the power of an image.

Today, I’m reading Kitchen Literacy by Ann Vileisis. While I’m not finished yet and have much more to say about the book, I couldn’t wait to mention it in relation to this classified ad (hoax or not) because it does much to explain how such ignorance could actually exist in our “smart” modern society.

Successful marketing consists of things like appealing display cases, helpful FAQS, buying guides, recipes and romanticized stories. Since the eating of animals is something we feel squeamish about, marketers know that we will grasp at the flimsiest evidence to either push the whole idea out of our heads completely or to support our belief that what we are doing is OK.

And they are more than happy to make full use of our desire to not know.

Marketers know that a pretty description including very little factual information, or an invented certification seal is usually all it takes to get us to turn a blind eye (whew!) to industry practices that no one would ever feel comfortable performing in their own home.

Marketers also know we no longer have any deep food knowledge with which to judge their products. We have no memory of what makes one cut of beef better than another. We are more than willing to be herded towards the most convenient solution offering the “best” of limited choices, mainly due to our preference to not know the back story.

Meat made at the store, where no animals were harmed…

Friends, pleaseBy far, the unkindest cut of all is willful ignorance.  It’s not cute when you giggle, “Don’t tell me, or I won’t be able to eat it” about your meat and dairy. If you can’t stand the knowledge, then you shouldn’t buy it or eat it. Delegating the dirty work isn’t innocence, and it’s not funny or charming.

I have to quote my meat hero, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of The River Cottage Meat Book fame; no thinking carnivore should be without this Bible in the kitchen.  Hugh says:

“The cruel practices I have mentioned have been increasingly publicized and clearly do not have popular support. Numerous polls and surveys indicate that the vast majority of the public objects to them and would like to see them banned. So surely they soon will be. Won’t they?

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Not just yet, it seems. Because the same moral majority of the pollster’s main street becomes the immoral majority, once they get behind the wheels of a shopping cart. They continue to buy the products they are so quick to condemn. So these appalling, abusive practices, it turns out, do have popular support – albeit that the supporters are in denial (it seems that nothing suppresses the exercise of conscience as effectively as the words ‘Buy one, get one free’). But there’s no getting away from it: if you buy something, you support the system that produces it.”

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I’m sorry,  I haven’t been much fun lately, but back to the original point. Is it a hoax, or is it genuine? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. It, and the scorn and ridicule it has attracted on the internet has reminded me of our complicated relationship with our food and the natural world.

Looks like a long, hard road ahead Ladies…..

This post is part of Fresh Foods Wednesday, a lively blog hop hosted by our friends at Gastronomical Sovereignty. If you’re looking for tips, recipes, projects and ideas about real food and farming, you need to get over there.

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17 thoughts on “In which I wonder: are you kidding me?

  1. Great post. I suppose you’re right when you say it doesn’t really matter if the quote is genuine or not– it’s pretty indicative of the way a lot of people feel, or more accurately, don’t feel about their food. People get freaked out when their meat “looks too much like an animal.” On the bright side, I think that sentiment is slowly turning for the better.

  2. What’s sad, is it probably a joke. I am shocked at the knowledge and common sense some people DON’T have. Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am I grew up with parents who took the time to talk to me about life and the world. It sure makes explaining how things work to my 5-year-old easier to do with great patience!

    1. Hi Sara,
      Thanks for saying so. I agree, sounds like you are lucky!

      I showed this ad to my aunt and she thought it was right on.
      So you see, my reason for thinking it just MAY be true is up close and personal, lol.

  3. My mother feels this way to a degree. We recently bought some acreage near a hunting area and she cries whenever she talks about the animals being hunted, “how can they do it? I could never do that to an animal.” She has some choice words for the hunters. Granted they do not eat much meat, but when they do I don’t hear her crying about the animal on her plate. She definitely wants to be separated from the process.

    1. Mimi what exactly does she eat? Most people don’t understand that when they buy even organic vegetables from large farms they are responsible for destroying more animals than hunting and free ranging ranchers ever possibly could. I find it ironic that those same folks trying to liberate domestic rabbits everywhere are indirectly killing more wild rabbits than they are liberating. If people eating mono-cropped farmed items (beans, soy, corn) knew what animal and habit destruction they were causing I’m sure they would be changing some eating habits.

      Someone like your mom who cares for animals is the perfect person to change things. Those wild animals had a wonderful life. The meat your mother eats, not so much. As eaters, every one of us drips with guilt. Those hunters realize that. Mindless eaters do not. I hope this didn’t come across like I’m attacking you – I’m just really irked right now by all the PETA and vegan hate I’ve seen lately.

      1. Good point, SE – thanks for making a true and excellent point.

        It is true that even when I make hay, which is far less invasive than large mono-crop farming, I cant miss the fact that there are tons of little animals – groundhogs, chipmonks, kildeer, rabbits, moles, frogs and turtles scurrying from their nests.

        Bunnies nest in the brambles I cleared for pasture – I have no idea where they went. And, I am really careful. Who knows how many animals are harmed with the synthetic fertilizer and pesticides (I don’t use the stuff) used on the farms the lion’s share of American grains are grown on. And, the loss of habitat is driving deer to the cities and highways faster than to the hunters.

        Good intentions sometimes cause more pain then good. PETA’s impact on horse slaughter in the US is an example. In theory, it sounded like a victory to close the slaughterhouses processing horses, but ironically, the reality causes even greater suffering for many horses. It is important to look at the big picture – working with animals and observing nature closely will show there are definitely fates worse than death and nature can be cruel for sure.

        I have a theory that everyone should have to work on a farm and wait tables as part of their human education. That would help avoid this sort of disconnected belief system and teach everyone to be a little nicer : )

  4. Wonderful post and, as a hunter, you know how I feel. Boy I hope there`s some time in some version of the future we get to sit at a table and share conversation; so many similar views from totally different paths to get there. :) I wonder if that quote wasn`t written by a hunter, trying to get a reaction… Do love your post and approach to it. :)

    Joel

    1. Hey there Joel,
      I’ll never know who the actual source is, but I’m OK with that. It’s a great opener as everyone seems to get a kick out of it.

      Can you tell I’m lonely for like minded neighbors, lol? Thanks for the visit, I really appreciate it : )

  5. “Friends, please. By far, the unkindest cut of all is willful ignorance. It’s not cute when you giggle, “Don’t tell me, or I won’t be able to eat it” about your meat and dairy. If you can’t stand the knowledge, then you shouldn’t buy it or eat it. Delegating the dirty work isn’t innocence, and it’s not funny or charming.” AMEN! People are far too quick to eat their meat while they look down their noses at the people that provided it. Man is a meat eater. There is nothing wrong with that. We just need to be a humane as possible when we harvest both as hunters and farmers. Even if you do not eat meat you can not live without directly causing or contributing to the death, oppression, or displacement of countless animals. You can minimize it but no stop it and to think you can is delusional or “willful ignorance”.

    1. Very true Andrew. Although I do believe it is possible to not eat meat, and do have great admiration and respect for those committed enough to maintain a true vegan lifestyle. It’s the blinders many wear and emotionally selective truths being spread about that bother and frighten me…

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