Sunday, October 30, 2011

Horse Meat and the American Taboo

I came across an interesting piece by Food Safety News' Dan Flynn on the subject of horse slaughter in Florida. Apparently, a horse carcass without legs and a heart was discovered in Florida's C-9 Basin. Many suspect the illegal sales of horse meat persist in the region, even after 70 illegal horse slaughter operations were shut down down in 2009. 
What I found particularly interesting is that 60,000 - 100,000 American horses are exported to Canada and Mexico for human consumption. 
Some figures in Congress are moving to make horse slaughter and the export of horse meat a federal crime, while other state populations view horse slaughter as a boon to the paralytic American economy. State regulation of horse slaughter will create jobs and stop horse abuse, they claim. 
I have never eaten horse meat, not because I choose not to, but because I have never had the opportunity to consume equine delicacies. The taboo of eating Mr. Ed seems to be an American one, since Europe and Asia consider horse as a part of their cuisine. Experiencing horse meat consumption requires the use of one's passport. 
Bon appetit, Mr. Ed. 

Coming from a culture that includes dog in its cuisine, I can't quite understand why horse meat is off-limits from the American menu. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate and Child Slavery

For a lot kids, Halloween is a damn good time. Tricked out in a costume, kids go door-to-door for free treats, then come home to Mom or Dad (hopefully) examining the candy before a veritable orgy of sugar consumption. For many chocolate manufacturers, Halloween is their Christmas - profits soar as citizens participate in a holiday of which the purchase of candy is an essential feature. I live in a co-op where very few families live, so after one quiet Halloween, I've stopped buying bags of candy for trick-or-treaters. I do cruise the streets of my mother's neighborhood with my 2 year-old son, so one way or another, snack size candies make their way into my house (and eventually, into my belly).

Kristen Howerton's topical piece on chocolate and child slavery, and a BBC documentary have completely made me averse to the purchase or consumption of any goods manufactured by the major chocolate companies, Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the US division of Cadbury (the British Cadbury tastes completely different, trust me!). 284,000 children on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other countries in Africa are employed as workers and, for many of them, were ripped from their families and sold as slaves. (By the way, Hershey's had its fair share of controversy - like their modern version of indentured servitude)
I guess one can literally be enslaved to chocolate. 

Slavery for chocolate. This is craziness.

What's more, the International Labor Rights Fund sued the American government for not enforcing laws that prohibit the import of commodities made by child labor. The chocolate industry, in response, has offered free-trade products in addition to the stuff made by kids. That's like having a brothel in a church.

I cannot wait for the gems I will inevitably hear from cognitive dissonance to justify the continued purchase and consumption of these products.

Jonathan will go trick-or-treating this year, but those chocolates will end up in the trash during my screening process. It sucks that on one end of the world, kids are literally slaving away so that kids on the other end can enjoy a holiday.