One more reason I really can't understand why anyone would eat meat

Of course, I have empathy for this woman, and I know from being a close part of many people's similar experiences that it's incredibly painful to have an illness that really changes someone's functioning in this way.

What I don't understand is why the slant of the story is that she's a victim and it's the meat processing plant's fault. This woman chose to eat dead animal flesh, chose not to make sure it was cooked to 160 degrees, and chose not to buy flesh that was certified as being from a particular part of a healthy organically raised animal. I absolutely believe she had the right to make a bad choice, as we all do, and I don't believe she should suffer or be made to feel guilty. But we don't need to view her as an absolute 100-percent victim. I think this is much more along the lines of someone who has a brain injury because they decided to go racing motorcycles at night with no helmet. It was a really stupid choice to make.

If there is some blame to be placed -- which I'm not sure there is -- it should be on our society allowing the United States Department of Agriculture to be viewed as a nutritional authority. I have no doubt that this woman grew up surrounded by the USDA's meat promotion posters hung alongside the fire safety and crosswalk safety posters in the classroom disguised as nutritional information and their heavily subsidized corn syrup and hotdogs portrayed in the lunchroom as a balanced meal. That kind of propaganda needs to stop, and people need to be taught accurate nutritional information by schools and physicians. But we also need to view conscious choices that adults make as exactly that. We don't need to blame our bad choices on the animal slaughterer or the vodka distiller or the car manufacturer.


Robin Abrahams said...

Wow. She was 20 when she ate that burger. Her own mother had cooked it for her. "Stupid choice" ...

I'm sorry. I just really don't know where to go with this.

eeka said...

Well, I'm playing devil's advocate slightly here, but it really bothers me that there's no mention of the human error involved in eating undercooked meat. I want to deconstruct the cultural myth that it's assumed that eating meat is a good idea. Obviously there's no absolute truth in the matter, and people of course have different beliefs, but I was bothered how slanted the article was. No mention whatsoever that meat carries a bigger risk of foodborne illness than plant-based foods (especially ground meat that wasn't ground in front of you and that was labeled as "hamburger," which is a completely unregulated term, rather than "ground round steak" or something), or pointing out that there's no reason for anyone to eat meat, and that many people choose not to solely because it's so contaminated.

I wonder if people would view this woman's story differently if, say, her cigarettes contained a toxic bacteria traced back to the tobacco. Or if her crack had been laced with something.

I'm obviously not advocating for any less empathy for ANY of these people, or anyone at all, but just suggesting that we try to look at these things without some of our cultural biases. Something is still an unhealthy and risky choice even if it's promoted in our society as something that's a good idea. I think the analogy to smoking works here, especially thinking back to before we knew much about it, and then more recently when we knew the harm it did but still glamorized it and just thought of it as "something people do."

ericjay said...

Eeka, I think you've really gone off the deep end this time. I see your comment saying that you're playing devil's advocate... but if I were to apply your logic here to a different situation, you'd probably think I went too far.

First off, I just can't accept your argument that engaging in a risky behavior when another's action/inaction causes harm makes someone any less of a victim.

If Bob rides a motorcycle without a helmet, he's increasing his risk of injury. If he gets hit by a drunk driver, would you play devil's advocate when the news articles vilify the driver? Would you sympathize with the defendant charged with manslaughter when his attorney insists that we need to consider Bob's role in his own death?

If Sally walks home alone late at night through an unfamiliar neighborhood she's increasing her risks. If she gets assaulted, would you play devil's advocate when the news articles vilify the attacker? What would your response be to a post on UHub calling out the media for not reporting what Sally was wearing?

Secondly, I think you're overstating the relative risk of eating meat. Take a look at this article on the front page of CNN today: Lettuce and eggs top risky food list. CSPI, a well known and respected consumer protection group found at least 10 common foods that increase health risks more than beef.

You wonder if people would view this woman's story differently if she was poisoned by cigarettes. Would you have viewed it differently if she was poisoned by one of the other items on the CSPI list? Leafy greens? Potatoes? Tomatoes? Sprouts?

In reality, you're not looking at this situation without cultural biases... you're just replacing someone else's bias with your own.

eeka said...

All good points, Eric. And yes, totally replacing their biases with my own. It's just interesting how and when the mainstream media decides that someone is or isn't a victim.