Wordless Wednesday: A Beef Harvest

WARNING!  This might be considered by some to be gross, inappropriate, or tragic, but I think it is extremely important share the how’s, what’s and why’s of our food. If you have any questions about anything you see please ask – I love to share about the ranch.

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I got some feedback from the California Beef Industry that apparently my blog is offensive. To be honest I’m pretty upset about it.  Jake Dewey from Chico Locker and Sausage called me this morning to say a representative from the California Beef Council called Chico Locker to make sure they knew about it. I’m upset because the CBC couldn’t contact me directly.  I’ve known many of the people that are on that council for years.  I’m upset because I caused Chico Locker drama.  I’m upset my own industry can’t talk to me.  I’m upset they feel like we must hide a major part of our industry.

My intent with this photo essay is to share my life on a commercial cattle ranch. I feel like most of us are so far removed from our ag roots, and that makes me sad. I hope to offer a glimpse of what less than 2% of our population does for a living.  Ag is not pretty.  It is not easy. Agriculture – is dirty, hot, cold, bloody, messy, hard – I have no wish to sugar coat it for my readers.  I want to you to know what it is really like, I want to provide transparency. And I’m heartbroken my OWN industry doesn’t want me to.

That being said, this slaughter is CUSTOM EXEMPT. That means it will not be in the retail market place. This beef is for my family’s consumption and no one else’s.  The reason we choose to slaughter our beef in this fashion is that I think it is better for my animals. It’s less stressful for them.  We don’t have to take them anywhere, they can stay in the environment they are used to.  Again the health, safety and welfare of my animals in the most important thing to us – and the California Beef Council should recognize that on ranch customer harvest plays a part of that. If you look farther back in this blog you will find a prior posting (https://megraeb.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/inside-gasp-cargill/) that shows how beef that goes into the retail market is processed.

I received an e-mail from the California Beef Council after I twittered them the following:

“MegRaeB: hey did you guys have a problem with my blog yesterday? I just got a call from the Locker that you guys contacted them.”

This is the response:

Hi Megan,  I want to apologize how this has spiraled. I didn’t mean to ruffle feathers with anyone. I was forwarded your blog by another organization that saw your twitter message directing your followers to your blog about slaughter. I would like to make the point clear that we are not trying to sensor personal blogs, Twitter or Facebook messages. If that’s the way it came across, I apologize. My concern is that pictures like the ones posted would turn people away from eating beef, or meat in general. Yes, consumers are too far removed from agriculture and our practices and it’s our duty to try and connect the consumer to modern production. However, I do think there may be a better way to convey to consumers how on-farm slaughter occurs, and a better explanation of custom slaughter versus federally inspected slaughter facilities, etc. It’s also important to get the message out to the consumer that as an industry, our collective goal is to produce wholesome, safe beef using the best science and technology available. Research has shown that consumers are concerned about food safety, more than animal handling and environmental issues. The pictures are not only graphic to a consumer, but they also don’t explain the science-based practices and regulations that the industry follows – and the millions of dollars we spend each year to produce safe beef – All of these messages have proven to resonate very well with consumers. Again, I want to apologize if it looks like we have an issue with the post. I’m just concerned about the message consumers will get from the pictures. As an industry representative, I have to be prepared for any possible feedback from consumers, media or other beef producers that might read the blog. I do want to applaud your outreach efforts, I believe we need more producers like yourself doing that. Instead of taking your blog down, why don’t you add a line about “This is how we do in on-farm, to learn about federally-inspected facilities, visit explorebeef.org.”   Please call me if you want to talk about this. I don’t have your phone number. Shannon  Shannon Kelley Public Relations Coordinator

You can tell they didn’t read my blog before they e-mailed me. Bums me out. Like I said before I’ve already posted links to retail harvest, I’ve addressed the science and technology that they industry uses. You can see that sort of information of the website they recommend going to – explorebeef.org. I’m very active on both my facebook and twitter explaining modern beef practices. But how often does a consumer get to see a custom exempt harvest?  Never.  You know what? I’m not sorry I posted these pictures and I’m not changing anything. Shannon – next time we do a custom exempt harvest why don’t you come watch, come talk to me, I would love to explain to you that consumers want transparency, they don’t like it when we hide things from them. And there are many stories in agriculture – not just the shinny, pretty, edited ones on explorebeef.org.

Oh and P.S. I already had explorebeef.org linked to blog. Again might want to read a blog before you attack it. Thanks!

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Being bled out.

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Attaching her to the kill truck so he can process her.

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The skinning process.

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Removing the legs so he can hang her.

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Opening the chest so he can remove the guts.

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Notice how the carcass never touches the ground?

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The guts coming out.

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Liver flukes, a common parasite in natural and organic beef.

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Guts removed, skinning almost done.

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Sawing the beef into halves.

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Now it will be loaded into his refrigerated truck. It will be transfered into the locker where it will hang for a couple of weeks. It will then be cut, packaged and frozen.

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The skinned skull, people want them for projects and landscaping.

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UPDATE: because several people did ask for more information I’m updating this blog by adding some videos. Again if you think you are going to be upset – don’t watch.

http://youtu.be/wzIE_t8JPsg

http://youtu.be/OtIPD_6WeOc

http://youtu.be/Kl1uOnX-l5k

54 Comments

Filed under Ag, food, photos

54 Responses to Wordless Wednesday: A Beef Harvest

  1. I don’t think there is anything wrong with your post at all. If people consume beef (or any other kind of animal) they should be willing to see how they are processed. Meat doesn’t come from the grocery store and people like your processor should be applauded. It’s a hard job to do. He’s not a war monger or anything of that nature. He’s providing a service that many will not do. But are completely happy to consume his and your work!

  2. Hmmm,
    I assume the cow was raised by you and slaughtered in situ on the farm? Sound like an outstanding way to produce meat, far superior the ‘norm’! Other than hunted meat I am now trying to get all of mine from a local farmer who sells shares of animals and manages them on the owners’ behalf. He raises them ethically on pastures and slaughters on-farm. I support him because I believe its the right thing to do, ‘uninspected facilites’ be damned. The smaller on-farm units are probab;y more hygienic than any major packer.

  3. THANK YOU for your post. We are currently raising a steer to feed our family–I liked seeing both your pictures and the processing pics from Cargill to compare how things are done on the farm vs. the processor.

  4. Shannon

    Megan,

    Like I said in my email to you before, I applaud your efforts to get the agriculture message out to consumers.

    I do want to make it clear that the California Beef Council did not call Chico Locker. I do not know who did. I was forwarded your blog post from another agriculture organization, and a beef producer, that was concerned about this post. That being said, I sent you the email on the concern from the beef producer and that organization, as well as the CBC who works day in and day out to defend the image of beef production.

    As someone who receives calls and questions from consumers, media and industry stakeholders on a daily basis about beef production, I feel that we need to stress that we use sound science and technological advances in our production practices, as well as continue to work with government agencies and other food chain partners to further strengthen our food safety systems.

    As far as the photos – yes, they are graphic. I agree with you that consumers like and need transparency. They also are turned away by the photos like these. Consumers want to know that their food is safe, and that is was raised humanely but many do not want to see the actual process.

    Again, I applaud your efforts to get the agriculture message out to consumers. I would love to accept your invitation to come out to your ranch the next time you do a custom slaughter, thank you for the invitation. Again, I’ve asked for you to call me to discuss this further and I look forward to that call.

    Shannon

    • Shannon-
      I understand you are not an avid reader of my blog or tweets. If you were you would know that I stress sound science and technological advances constantly – in fact it drives many of my followers crazy. Apparently I did not make it clear that this was our own private beef for our own private consumption.
      Many consumers are unaware that custom exempt harvest is even available to them. I think it is important for people to know that it may be an option for them – it’s nice to support local butcher shops and to improve the quality of death for my cattle. It surprises me that a fellow beef producer was concerned about this post – most of the producers I know also have Dave or someone similar to custom exempt harvest their beef.
      I was told Holly Foster called the Locker as a representative of Beef Council. Which surprised me, as I am her neighbor and it wouldn’t have been hard to contact me about the blog in question. I would like to know what ag organization was concerned about this post. Why was everyone afraid to contact me directly? I would have been a lot less hurt.
      I have to disagree with you that many consumers don’t want to see the process. Except for you – I have only received positive comments about this blog. I placed a disclaimer at the top of my personal blog so it’s not a surprise when people see the pictures. Hell, even Oprah did a show where they went into a processing plant. As a producer – my very way of life depends on the image I present to the consumer and I have to say, I find it slightly offensive that you think I am tarnishing the image of my industry. Again sugar coating or hiding information from the public tends to make them very angry and distrustful – something I don’t want associated with my industry.
      I understand that you are not trying to hurt my feelings or attack my blog. But as a lifelong cattle rancher and commercial producer – it hurts when the people that are supposed to be supporting you call you out. I spend a lot of my time and energy advocating for my industry. It’s unfortunate that you think I’m not doing a good job. Please give some thought to what transpired today. Put yourself in a 5th generation cattle ranchers shoes. Put yourself in the educated consumer’s shoes. Don’t you like to know about where your food comes from or can come from?
      I might have a custom exempt harvest this fall. If I do, I will be in touch with you, so you can get some insight into a very important segment of our industry.
      And again, in the future if the Beef Council has issue with what I post on my blog, please e-mail me directly.
      Thanks!
      Megan

      • Hi Megan,

        Thanks for responding to me. I have never said that we think you are “tarnishing the image” of the industry – please understand that. The goal in (both of us) sharing the events that occurred today was to not be blog police as it’s everyone’s right to post whatever they want. But when those posts, whether it be from a producer or from an activist group, create questions in consumers’ minds, it’s important that those of us who do a lot of work to educate consumers and media with balanced, accurate information (so that consumers can make up their own mind) be aware of what information has been circulated, so we aren’t caught off-guard with questions. You’d be surprised at the misinformation consumers and so-called journalists are calling the truth.

        I appreciate the open dialogue you’ve allowed on your blog. If you’re open to it, maybe we can funnel our energy and work together to tell and show more sides of the beef story.

        Thanks again,
        Shannon

    • I’m offended that you assume my profession will sway people from eating beef, or meat in general. Considering that without my profession you would not have a beef industry to defend.

      • Shannon- what question in consumers’ minds did I create? You told me that it was an industry organization that was concerned, not a consumer. And isn’t it a good thing to get consumers to ask questions? Knowledge is power?
        I am aware of the misinformation that consumers and journalist circulate because I make it my job to talk to them every day. In fact just this month I appear in the Chico State magazine about women in ag. The month before that a letter I wrote made it into our local arts and entertainment paper, google me, I’m very active. I make it my job to provide science based truthful information to anyone who asks for it because my way of life depends on it.
        To be clear I did not post any inaccurate information in this blog. Quite frankly I feel like I need an apology for this whole mess in the first place. What did I do wrong?

    • Shannon, thank you for your concern and the concern of the “industry” that I, the consumer, might be offended by these pictures. My personal belief is that the “industry” does a disservice to me, the consumer, by trying to shelter me from the realities of food production.

      Rather than sheltering me, please inform me. Inform me what my food is being fed, inform me how my food is being treated, inform me where my food is being sheltered, inform me how my food is slaughtered, inform me what me food is being injected with.

      I am an educated adult. I do not need to be patronized and I do not need to be “protected” from the realities of the farm.

      Again, thank you for your concern, but ignorance is not bliss.

      Kathy

  5. A great post, and there’s absolutely nothing in those photos that we consumers should be protected from. That’s where meat comes from.

    The photos are tasteful and not in any way gratuitously violent or gory. The only thing offensive here is that one or more beef organizations are apparently trying to censor you so that none of us “civilians” will be let in on this secret that beef is made out of dead cows. Um, we already knew that.

  6. Meg, I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not sure how the blog post looked when some people expressed concerns, doesn’t really matter to me. I can say, it’s hard for me to look at these photos though. It may have been more helpful for me if there was more explanation in the photo captions or something. That said, I don’t think you need to apologize for telling your story the way you want to and I know your heart and mind are absolutely in the right place. I think posts like this simply will not be for everyone but there is a place for this extent of openness and honesty and I’m sure many folks want to understand how things work. It’s admirable that you did it with respect.

  7. What a great post. I love seeing how things are done by different folks for different reasons. Don’t care if you link to PR blog, not gonna read them for this kind of info. (I mean there was a pig farm visit written up on the pork board blog where they didn’t let them take a single picture of a pig. Not even live ones.)

  8. Heaven forbid people should remember that meat comes from animals.

  9. Its an interesting post on a personal blog with a disclaimer. I dont get the problem. Hope it blows over fast and you keep writing what you want.

  10. Allison Booth

    Dear Meg,
    Thank you for your candid blog & for having the courage to stand up for what you believe in. I have assisted with processing beef while living on some very big cattle properties while I was living in Australia. Everyone in the family pitched in, it was just another farm job to be done. I’ve also had a 3 year period when I was a vegetarian feeling sorry for the animals. Then I realized that life is not fair and there were humans been slaughtered in parts of the world during so called ethnic cleansing & I for various reasons, I started eating meat again & like it.

    I have worked with horses most of my life & I can relate to you about the hush hush of the dark side of the harvesting industry & the lack of transparency when it comes to the facts of where most animals end up.

    Folks who step up and say horse slaughter at processing plants with captive bolt is not humane are seen as activists and not real ‘horse people’. They are bullied & labeled as been mis- informed been peta types and there seems to be no middle ground.

    As a student of ‘non-violence’ techniques with Monty Roberts one of my mentors, I don’t know how anyone can conclude that captive bolt with a flight animal is in any way humane. The smell of blood and fear watching the animals a little further up the line has these animals climbing the walls trying to escape.

    I like the idea of the farm kill , animals in their own environment done by caring folks. I know this not viable for everyone. I took my beloved injured horse to the killers to be euthanized in my early 20s. The vet could not come & do it for a week and I could not bear to see Beau in pain. I thought I was been cruel to be kind. I have never forgiven myself for disposing him in this way. I think he knew as soon as I unloaded him off the trailer. I was distraught trying to feed him an apple to say goodbye, but he was not interested in an apple.

    Allison

  11. It *is* an interesting post and there should be no controversy. As Tovar says, heaven forbid we figure out that meat comes from animals. The California Beef Council blew it, and their actions here make them look defensive, as if they’ve got something to hide. Guys, time to grow up, okay?

    Dan @ Casual Kitchen

  12. I see both sides of the issue. I do not side with the CBC here; I do not believe we have anything to gain from keeping customers ignorant of the fact that animals die to produce meat. Still, I do understand the pressure that the ARAs are putting on meat producers, and I understand wanting to cool down some of the pressure that ugly videos and such have created for the industry in recent months. I understand, but I do not agree with their answer of keeping the uglier parts of harvest in the closet. It is *exactly* that mindset that has left an opening for the ARAs to make their case to the public: most of the problem here is that John Q has been completely divorced from the realities of food production so these images come as a shock. I believe that once they are mainstream, once people realize that blood is part of the process and not in itself a sign of cruelty, then the images used to such effect by ARAs will not have as much impact. I realize the CBC feels differently, and I also realize they have the livelihoods of thousands of farmers at stake if they are wrong. So, what they can espouse from an ‘official’ position vs what an individual with a blog is free to say, are two very different things. It is just sad that the CBC decided to make this some kind of issue.

  13. Apparently, the California Beef Council has its collective heads buried in the sand when it comes to what the consumer wants. They have to be completely oblivious to the local food movement and the consumer shift towards wanting more transparency when it comes to their food sources.

    I applaud Meg for her respectful treatment of her cattle. It is sorely lacking in commercial slaughter. It’s always been my pet peeve as an inspector.

  14. Brad

    I am a beef producer and consumer here in California. I understand the processes, both “commercial” and “on farm” of harvesting animals for consumption. I am not so sure that these graphic photos on this blog portray the image that the beef industry as a whole is shooting for. If I were to show these pictures to my family that lives in the city, or anyone who does not fully understand the beef industry, they would be completely turned off by the process. I think people like to eat beef, and we do need to connect them back to the land, but there are better ways of doing it than showing pictures like these. It sounds like everyone is making a mountain out of a mole hill. It appears that there is a lot of misunderstanding by people that are very passionate about the industry.

    • I respect your opinion Brad and I appreciate your comment. But I did show my city friends these pictures and they loved them! In fact I’ve had many requests from “city people” that want to come watch next time. Even a vegetarian liked the fact that I posted them.
      People do not have to look at these pictures if they don’t want to. I put a disclaimer for just such a purpose. What would be a better way to show our consumers how custom exempt processing works? Do you think we should not address the slaughter or harvest issue? Personally I feel like the more I show, the more consumer trust I will receive. And if my consumers trust me, I can educate them. Hiding things or only giving part of the picture has never served us in the past. But that is just my personal opinion. Thanks again for commenting.

  15. Dan P.

    I’m an old timer, one who has done my own butchering for many years because we wanted beef for our freezer, but I also send 99% of my cattle to “modern” slaughter houses – you all know the big four. While I may not always agree with the checkoff or big ag companies, I do have to say that I think the pictures are probably not the best idea to post. The groups that are against us use these types of photos to suede people from eating beef, pork, and chicken. They aren’t pretty to look at, even for an old guy like me who has been raised in cattle my entire life.

    Ever been to the Santa Monica Mall? It’s an open air mall where they have stores that face a carless street and also do demonstrations and have street performers. My daughter lives down there and has taken me to see the AR groups that show pictures of animal production. Without a doubt, people’s faces are always disgusted and you hear comments by people saying that they will “never eat a burger again.” It makes me sick to hear those comments.

    It looks like you ladies had a big misunderstanding (I have four daughters) and should have both picked up the phone instead of using a public forum. We all need to stick together and fight those AR groups, not fight ourselves. In this guy’s opinion, I think the pictures are not a good idea to post. There’s better ways to have a consumer meet their farmer and food. Now can we all agree to get along for the sake of our industry, I think there’s enough bickering already going on anyway and we don’t need more.

    • You are right. They should have called me about my blog before they e-mailed it to their circle of friends and called my processor. It was unfortunate the only way I could get contact from them was to make this public. Hopefully, for the sake of my industry, they learned from their error.
      What better way do you think we should show a custom exempt slaughter? What about people like me that want to see other methods of food buying? Is it a good idea to “protect” people from what really happens?

  16. Kirstin

    I have fond memories of butchering in the winter in Central PA. The day after Christmas was always “cut up” day. The whole family was there to grind hamburger, cut roasts and steaks, make sausage and scrapple. And when we were done with 1 steer and 3 hogs we all had meat for the year. Boy do I miss those days! I still buy a steer from my Uncles and have it custom butchered. Tastes better! Thanks for posting. When I talk to people about the “good ole days” there eyes light up and they ask all kind of questions. Keep up the good work!

  17. Carol Eberhard

    I have a set of photos very similar to these only with a deer. I used them to teach skinning skills to my hunter education students. Nothing wrong with seeing what really takes place to put that steak on the grill.

  18. Shari Coy

    I just slaughtered one of my own beef on Tuesday. We did it exactly the same way! I applaud you posting your pictures, I took my own pictures with the sme intention!!! The public is too far removed from Ag, too worried about germs, etc. Years ago you didn’t hear about ecoli because everybody lived on a farm and harvested all their own food; beef, horse( some did), chicken, lamb.
    I feel if everyone saw this on a daily basis like they expose us to murder, homosexuality, robbery, rape they would become desensitized to it the same as everything else!

  19. In other countries, such as the U.K., it is common to see whole cuts of meat, even 1/4’s displayed in glass cases. Here in the U.S. our meat is generally display in smaller cuts, laid out on foam trays and wrapped in plastic. I use to work in a general store and I was a meat cutter for several summers. A lamb carcass would be delivered, and I was able to break it down into lamb chops, butterflied leg of lamb, and ground lamb. Customers watched me do this, it was ‘the norm’. Meat cutters are hidden from view in grocery stores these days, which is a shame.
    Home slaughter is the most humane way to end the life of an animal. Unfortunately, when they are lined up at large facilities, they can smell the blood, and they hear the fear in the animals who go before them. It is unfortunate, but is a fact of life, and THANK GOODNESS there are workers who are able to do this hard work so that we can have food on our tables.
    My husband and I butcher deer in the same fashion as Ryan’s home slaughtered animal. The carcass never touches the ground.
    Thank you, Ryan, for your interesting and informative posts.

  20. Stevie Ipsen

    Hi Megan,

    From my perspective, posting photos like these is a fine line to cross. I agree that people want transparency, but if you look through your other comments, it has definitely caused some confusion. You have many people saying things like, “you did nothing wrong, people need to know how meat is slaughtered.” But, obviously, there is cause for concern if even your readers are thinking this is how meat is slaughtered.

    I think from the get-go it should have been more clear that this is how YOUR meat is slaughtered. Meat in a restaurant or grocery store is NOT slaughtered this way, but IS slaughtered using the best available practices that are backed by science to deliver a safe and healthy product to consumers while harvesting cattle in a humane and appropriate manner. For your family, this may make the most sense, but for the American public, the U.S. packing industry, which harvests cattle on a much larger scale, does an outstanding job.

    The U.S. beef industry, including our packing facilities, is the safest in the world and I think we need to be careful when saying things like “liver flukes are a common parasite in natural and organic beef,” to the common reader, it sounds like our meat is not safe and we have a problem with liver flukes, which is certainly not the case.

    I do think producers and industry experts need to band together to get good family farming and ranching stories out to the public, but we need to convey those messages in a way that consumers can best understand because, just like you said, only 2% of the population would understand us. If we tell the stories with our industry jargon and terminology, it can be misleading and cause serious concerns for the public that don’t need to arise.

    • Gilda

      Hi Stevie, Pay attention. The blog clearly states a warning and what will be shown. This is her family ranch and their own food. It was fascinating to see the process and a good way to educate folks. I didn’t feel that Ms. Brown was attempting to infer that retail meat was harvested in this manner. Furthermore liver flukes are fairly common in certain areas especially during a wet year. This is a blog about her ranch life in a rural area. I loved it and I hope she continues to post information such as she did.

      • stevie ipsen

        This was an updated post. Originally, the blog didn’t clearly state this same warning or make the statement as clearly that this is how her ranch operates. And several people commented that they want to know how meat is slaughtered so they appreciated the post. They too obviously needed to “pay attention” that THIS IS NOT HOW ALL MEAT IS HARVESTED.

      • Gilda

        It is obvious that this is a home ranch slaughter and not how the U.S.A. processes retail meat. PLEASE use your common sense Stevie.

    • Stevie,
      You are aware that liver flukes ARE a problem, right? You might want to look through some old issues of your magazine, I know Dr. Maas wrote some great articles about them. I’d be happy to get the link for you.
      And since you did lurk me, you are aware that I did make edits to this blog before anyone commented on it. So you confuse me when you said I didn’t make it clear from the get go that this was about my Ranch.
      I think being honest is the best avenue to take for me and the beef industry. Quite frankly, it worries me that you (a leader of my industry) think I should only convey part of my story.
      As a consumer I don’t want to know part of the story, I want to know the whole thing. As a producer I don’t think I should hide anything that I do, I have NOTHING to be ashamed of. I think you could learn a lot from me, I hope in the future you will work with me. Your post made me feel very defensive, I hope that wasn’t your intention. But I’m also inspired – I will be writing a post soon to extend the olive branch. Obviously we all need to work together a little more. I think I have a lot of offer your organization.

  21. Dan Dinova

    Keep up the good work. Most trade associations are designed to support the corporate entities that finance them, both large producers and processors. They don’t do much for the small producer. The people who run these never get their hands dirty, and have lost touch with the nuts and bolts of day to day operations. If your association can not contact you directly, you need to question your memberships. Either you have chosen not to be involved for what ever reason, or the association is apathetic, or a combination of both.

    The consumers are wanting to know more and more about their food supply. It is evident by the growth and encouragement of local foods and farmers markets. You can become more profitable by catering to a niche market, and help strengthen the diversity of the food supply.

    Processing animals can be gruesome, but it is very necessary to have animal proteins and the by products of them.. The debate about the humanity of it will go on forever, and techniques will improve, but it is somewhat of an oxymoron to humanely kill something, whatever the technique. All we can do is make sure the process is done with dignity and respect.

    I admire you for putting up these photos, and your story.

  22. Nelson

    Interesting post.
    You do realize though that if EVERYONE did this type of processing, there would be no beef checkoff dollars, since the animal isn’t being sold.

  23. robynski

    Meg, what you’re showing is a process that happens world wide. We need to not allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency by listening to the voices of those who say “it’s just too much”.

    Your post is no different than thus post: http://www.bbqontheleather.com/

    This gentleman shows us how it’s done in Argentina. Great video. And I feel great compassion for the animals that are sacrificed on behalf of consumers.

    What offense me? Is the slaughter of animals so people can eat half a meal and toss the rest. If we are so concerned about the animal and our tender feelings then we should never allow any part of any animal killed for human consumption to be wasted. Or cooked and the nibnledand tossed into the garbage. We should eat them in gratitude, wasting nothing.

  24. Todd Eggerling

    If we as producers are afraid of how something looks or sharing we need to rethink what we are doing. Nothing wrong with being truthful and open. Good job.

  25. Pingback: California Beef Council: Hiding Where Your Steak Comes From? | BELLAVITÆ

  26. I’m a city kid but I’ve travelled and I eat real food, and slaughter is not news to me. I teach my 2 year old where her food comes from whether it had a face or not. Anything else seems irresponsible to me.
    I actually found the pictures could have been *more* graphic, closer up – how the skinning knife goes in, rather than a denuded belly; hw the carcass is hung so it ‘never touches the ground’ – to be as informative as possible. Archevore recently posted a photo of a bison slaughter with half the disclaimer you’ve included and twice the colour, without complaint. As Stevie says above, more captions would have helped, but that may be precicely because I don’t have a history of reading your blog. You’re tacitly comparing this to industrial processing, but you’ve accidentally attracted so much attention that a lot of viewers don’t have that history with you or the topic. And of course it would have ruined the Wordless Wednesday concept 🙂
    What interests me is the repeated references to “scientific practices” by the CBC. As a “real foodie”, I don’t trust blanket references to science in connection with food. Perhaps what was meant was hygene. Am I naive to have been convinced by Michael Pollan’s account of the chicken slaughter at Polyface Farms, and why enclosing slaughter behind shiny white walls does not ensure clean (in all its senses) practice? Hard truths – like living things have to die so I can eat and live – are not disgusting; losing (or rejecting) the emotional connection to that fact IS. Robynski touches on that in reference to waste, and Dan P. detected it in those essentialist comments in Santa Monica.
    The angle of consumer choice is also interesting. I can choose what my meat ate, how it lived, but not how it died? And I shouldn’t even know that there is more than one way for an animal to come off the hoof and onto the plate? How odd.

  27. Hi Megan,

    Thank you for terrific photo essay. I also enjoyed the intelligent and thoughtful comments from all sides of this discussion.

    I don’t feel your post is inflammatory in any way, and as a ‘sheltered’ suburbanite I certainly don’t conflate these photos with the intentionally horrific pictures that PETA puts out. It doesn’t scare me from eating meat, if anything it makes me feel more OK with it. To me knowledge is power, and emotionally-laden tactics to scare consumers are not productive.

    While I love animals, and as a college student avoided meat because of the ‘horror’ of animal slaughter, with time I came to realize that incorporating meat into a human diet is natural and healthier. I am a runner, and I do think we need animal proteins in our diets. Your post showed me that animals can be humanely slaughtered, in a respectful, hygienic manner.

    The fearful response from the CA Beef Council certainly smacks of self-interest, and though I can’t blame producers for trying to protect their livelihoods, I do object strongly to their patronizing position that consumers can’t handle the truth, or the even uglier idea that people who eat beef don’t care about animal welfare or the environmental effects of agriculture. That’s simplistic and self-serving. I choose to think of the American consumer as too trusting, but not too stupid to want to know where their food comes from.

    Keep up the good work!

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  29. aggirl

    Excellent blog! I loved the conversation. I think you do an excellent job.

  30. John

    great piece! Should note that Wes Jamison is recommending that we publicize slaughter to inoculate the public. His theory is once they are exposed to the realities, they lose some sensitivity and become accepting of the facts. By contrast, keeping it in the dark simply breeds suspicions and distrust.

  31. This is a great piece, and I’m glad I came across it. Like Lauren, I was struck by the fact that the CBC and some commentators are strenuously pointing out that factory processed meat is scientific and follows best practices. The unspoken implication is that large scale processing is less bloody then on farm processing, which is simply not the case. Not only is there still blood involved, but large scale processing has led to some of the largest scale food safety outbreaks. In general, I am more amazed by the safety of our food system than the fact that there are occasional problems, even when they are large scale- BUT I don’t think we are truly serving the consumer by pretending that there is a pristine white room where animals are silently bloodlessly and suddenly turned into cellophane packaged meat. Anyway, great post and great discussion.

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