Michael Evans discusses being at the top of the food chain.
Sitting atop the food chain is a hand-wringing place to be.
Oh, the daily angst of deciding which fellow beast from the animal kingdom should be slaughtered to ensure my survival.
Excuse my existential dilemma as I wipe the pork fat from my lips and devour a chicken leg before tossing the bone to the pooch at my feet. Lucky hound – how did he get to be domesticated rather than filleted anyway? Best not take him on holiday to Asia.
Funny how we humans make the rules about what we can – and can’t – eat.
Pigs, yes. Cows, yes. Dogs, no. Horse, no. Whale, no way.
But why not? Why shouldn’t I be able to eat dog, horse and, heaven forbid, whale?
Sound the alarm bells, set the greenies loose on my door and force-feed me grain to turn my liver into foie gras: I wanna try a whale burger.
I’m with him. I want to give it a shot. I haven’t eaten dog, but I have eaten horse, amongst other things.
Like any coast-hugging Sydneysider, I love gazing out to sea and catching a glimpse of a majestic breaching whale. But I also love a trip to the country and seeing cattle and sheep grazing.
Yes, I am uneasy at the sight of blood-stained water on TV when those Japanese boats start pinging harpoons into whales’ backs. But I am equally appalled at footage of how we slaughter cows, pigs and chickens for human consumption.
We’ve so removed any notion of animal slaughter from our meat consumption that it’s little wonder kids answer the question of where sausages come from with a deadpan: ”the supermarket”.
Culturally, we select which animals are fit for slaughter and consumption and which are not.
Every time I go hunting and post pictures, some wailing pinko goes spare at the “murder” of animals and asks why I don’t get my meat from the supermarket. My answer is that I prefer my meat fresh, not gasified…and if you don’t believe me go look it up.
Many Asians eat dog, a fact that disturbs a good number of us. Many of us aren’t keen on eating Skippy despite plenty of good reasons.
The recent European horsemeat scandal sparked outrage that quality beef was being substituted with meat straight from pony riding school. But why shouldn’t we eat horse? It’s standard fare throughout parts of Asia, Europe and South America: recipes for traditional Veronese horsemeat stew or Parisian pot-au-feu de cheval are easy to find online.
Is it because in Australia we’d rather see a 5 foot tall jockey thumping the nag’s hide with a strap to make that noble beast run faster?
Wikipedia reckons that in 732 AD, Pope Gregory III began a concerted effort to stop the ritual consumption of horsemeat as it was a common pagan practice.
Australia is, in fact, one of the world’s largest horsemeat exporters. We just don’t eat it here.
If there is a legitimate demand, why shouldn’t a regulated industry be allowed to meet that demand? Imagine the marketing opportunities of a Black Caviar burger!
Why do we feed dogs horse meat?
I know, I’ll be accused of wanting to dine on dolphin dumplings and wear baby seal fur coats. And of having a heart as cold as a John Dory’s privates.
But our choices appear culturally contrived. Historically, the Japanese and Icelanders have enjoyed a bit of whale blubber with their tea.
We as Australians find this troubling. (They probably don’t think much of us eating Vegemite.)
One argument that excites anti-whalers is that the mammals are endangered. It’s true 100 years ago we nearly fished them into extinction.
Today it’s estimated about seven of the 13 species of great whale, including the blue whale and the bowhead, are endangered. But some fin and Bryde’s whales and minke whales are abundant. Not that it’s as easy or accurate to count whales in the ocean as it is sheep in a paddock. A few years ago, one Japanese bureaucrat reportedly labelled minkes the cockroaches of the sea.
I’m not talking about allowing hunting of endangered species. Iceland, Norway and Japan have argued they want to hunt only abundant species of whales. Scepticism is appropriate – but many controversial industries operate in a regulated environment.
But if you stop whaling and numbers return to a healthy level, how do you then argue they should not be farmed when they are once again frolicking in abundant numbers?
Should we not farm whales simply because they are magnificent mammals? Are we letting emotion guide us?
Yes we should farm them. Greenpeace’s own numbers show that some species of whale are abundant.