Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011



Last Friday, the US Congress passed legislation re-legalizing the slaughter and sale of horse meat in the USA and all territories.  “I find it disgusting,” said Patricia Fazio of Cody, Wyoming, echoing sentiments of most Americans.  In the US, horses are placed in the "pet / companion" group of animals...along with cats, dogs, gerbils and guinea pigs.  And we all know: You don't eat your friends.  So it came a huge surprise to many over the weekend when animal-obsessed PETA announced its "temporary" support for the lifting of the ban.  What?  Has PETA lost its mind?  Hasn't PETA seen horse-themed movies like "National Velvet" and "Seabiscuit"?  Neigh!

We here at the DUNER BLOG were surprised as well...so we did some research.  And it turns out to be a little more complicated than expected.  See...our earliest ancestors ate horses long before riding them.   So it only makes sense to continue eating them ...right?  Anyhow, over time, certain cultures  attached specific 'moral / religious' baggage to each animal with regards to consumption.  For example, Jewish and Islamic cultures won't eat pigs...but Christians and Buddhists are okay with it.  Horses are one of the animals that humans can't agree on...it's fine to eat them in other countries but not in the USA.

Believe it or not...one major proponent of eating horse meat is celebrity TV-chef GORDON RAMSAY.  The Scot says we are "too sensitive" in the UK and USA towards horse meat consumption.  To force the issue, he serves it in his restaurants and receives much discord.  Gordon says it's low in fat and more tender than beef.  Yuck!  Hasn't Gordon seen movies like "Black Beauty" and "My Friend Flicka"?  You can't eat Mr. Ed!  Sorry...but he does have a point.  Around the world, horse meat is prepared in numerous delicious ways.  Here are the top eight consumers of horse meat worldwide:

1. China          2. Mexico            3. Mongolia            4. Kazakhstan
5. Italy            6. Argentina         7. Brazil                 8. Kyrgyzstan

Anyhow, despite its popularity overseas, its highly unlikely that horse meat will be accepted by American society anytime soon.  However, let's agree that eating horses in other countries is acceptable moral behavior.  This means other nations want to purchase American horse meat...and they're willing to pay $20 a pound.  So, during the ban on horse meat, many Americans sold horses illegally to the black market.  They were then smuggled into Mexico and slaughtered for a profit.  PETA felt this practice was much less humane than allowing horses to be slaughtered in the US...and hence gave tepid approval for the measure.   In a statement PETA said horses endure "more suffering on a frightening, long, and miserable journey to Canada or Mexico" than being killed in a regulated, inspected slaughterhouse in the USA.

But don't worry...they're won't be a 'Secretariat Special' at Burger King anytime soon.  So far, there are only a handful of horse slaughterhouses in the nation who want to open up: Two in Wyoming and one in Montana.  One such company, United Equine, plans to sell most of their meat to a distributor in France.  Finally, one easy way to can tell which animals are acceptable to eat...in any language...is to see if they have two separate words, one for the animal and one for the food.  For example, 'cow' becomes 'beef,' 'pig' becomes 'pork' and 'baby calves' are turned into 'veal.'  There is no word in English language for prepared horse.

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