I always wished the prison predecessor of “Fast Food Nation” had gotten the same traction, and maybe now, as a book, it will. Profit really is the toxic ingredient in the criminal “justice” system in this country — millions and millions disserved is the feature, not the bug. Even so, this exposé struck me as profoundly sad. A friend emailed the link with “dang, so much margarine,” which is ironic given that the gubmint, which sets the rules, is now cracking down on trans fats. My reaction: “Shit, so much diabetes.” Calories on these trays are as empty as the souls of those who come up with them. Although I do take tiny comfort in knowing most of the 1 percent have palates that never evolved to appreciate anything much more challenging. As I’ve often said, the tastes of Park Avenue gazillionaires and Death Row inmates are sadly similar.
We get two newspapers a day except (until just recently) on Sundays, and one informed us that feedlots are now in withdrawal from something I didn’t even know existed: “Vitamin Z,” a growth additive that turns cows into “muscle-bound athletes” in a matter of weeks. I immediately clicked over to the hometown paper to see if I might have missed a big story, and at that point the keyword did not turn up a single instance. And this is so far beyond pink-slime-scary it’s insane. Cows are staggering into slaughterhouses after being drugged to fatten them without the need for suddenly pricey feed. Anyone who eats supermarket/burger-chain beef is ingesting a product so freaky it makes test-tube babies look edible. And yet whole business plans are built on a commodity that was never meant to be a commodity . . .
It says everything that it took the Taiwanese animators to make the most fair-and-balanced sense of the cheval scandale. As someone who spends way too much time reading and not nearly enough writing, I already knew the issue was complicated. With hearts bleeding for ducks allowed to gorge to their guts’ content, everyone assumes inhumanity is involved in turning Seabiscuit into supper. But forcing the poor animals to be trucked out of the country for slaughter sounds far more traumatic to me. (Not that I’m whinnying, but the longest, hardest day of my life was the one spent getting from a hospital in Torino to our apartment in New York on a broken femur — and I had warm nuts in business class to ease me through it.) It’s fascinating to see people who happily eat cheap pork from abused hogs worrying about a protein many cultures regard as perfectly acceptable, even commanding a premium. I’ve tasted it only once*, the first time my too-curious consort insisted on ordering it, in a swanky restaurant in Florence where it was served in thin shreds as an expensive appetizer. I remember it was surprisingly good. But mostly I remember that the waiter kept wiping his oily nose and I later developed what felt like a particularly brutal form of bird flu. I would say “sick as a dog,” but that would be dinner in other cultures. Cooked at fever temp.
*Amended after a long walk: I remember I tasted it again, also in Italy, in Treviso, on bruschetta. And definitely not priced like dog food.
I keep Tweeting this, but Jonathan Swift must not be listening: Wingnuts apparently want to ban abortion to guarantee a healthy supply of babies to feed the poor in this country. Why else would they be yammering about “protecting” the unborn while whacking food help for pregnant woman and actual children? And no wonder one segment of the new nutrition plate is only labeled “protein.” Soylent would be too obvious.