Blood in your food, you say?
Many times over the past few weeks I’ve been tempted to comment on various things I’ve stumbled upon in the media or conversations I’ve either overheard or been a part of.
I’ve been reading Karen Davis’ Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs and Moby and Miyun Parks’ Gristle. I’ve read some astoundingly thoughtless and sexist comments reacting negatively to research connecting rape to hockey culture. I’ve thought a lot about the UFC coming to Vancouver and the connections between the sport and the organization and how they are implicated in the perpetuation of violence against both people and animals. I’ve wondered why Vancouver’s City Council is not making the connection between why “backyard chickens” are a bad idea and the need for a shelter to care for these chickens once the novelty of keeping them wears off. And I’ve pondered the misguided intentions behind the Threadless peliCAN t-shirt to help raise funds for the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico. (I say misguided because they’ve produced something that requires quite a bit of oil to make, and this seems to defeat the t-shirt’s purpose.)
Today, however, I encountered quite the head-scratcher.
I am at work.
My mental radio station, always on replay in my mind, is finally playing something other than an irritating commercial ditty: The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony.
Bittersweet, indeed. Something in the rainy day ether saw the coming conundrum far sooner than I did.
I tear my cuticle. Bleeding far more than such a tiny tear should, I head to the kitchen for a bandage. Two coworkers are in the kitchen, preparing early lunches.
Sucking on my finger, one coworker asks what happened, which inspires her to tell a story of how last night’s dinner had almost been ruined by her blood.
Cutting her hand on a Magic Bullet blender, her boyfriend had to rescue their dinner from her bleeding palm. Thankfully, no human blood was harmed in the making of dinner.
The story prompts an exuberant “Gross!” from the other coworker, who then, feeling silly for having spoken so quickly says, “Um, I mean, it’s good that your dinner wasn’t ruined.”
The symphony of violins in my head comes to a crashing, calamitous halt.
“Wait,” I think. “Let’s rewind here for a moment. You think a few drops of your own blood in your food is gross? Have you really looked at what you’re eating?”
I don’t say anything out loud. I don’t say anything at all lest a fitting but altogether inappropriate comment should come out of my mouth.
Of course, the irony of what they said escaped them. Chopped up dead bodies and blood mixed into their creamy, cheesy, pus-laden pasta sauces and tortillas? Not gross at all, right?
Somehow it’s more acceptable for them to be eating other animals and all of those animals’ bodily fluids (including their blood) than to get even a little bit of their own bodily fluids in their food. Because, you know, that’s just gross.
What I’ve illustrated here is an obvious disconnect that even a meat-eater or vegetarian could understand if it were put in terms more diplomatic than the dialogue that went on in my head.
Let me spin this disconnect into another scenario.
What if we turned the tables here? What if, instead of cow’s milk, human milk was used for the cheese and cream in our lunches? Even I think that’s gross. But for me, my disgust with “food” made from cow’s milk pretty much equals my disgust with the idea of making the same food from human milk. So why is one kind of milk more acceptable than another? It’s not, really.
Cows and humans – we’re both mammals. We both produce milk for the same reasons. If we’re going on the basis of culinary taste, well, there really is no reason at all why we shouldn’t consider human milk as an equal candidate for use in cheese and other dairy products, right?
And, well, I’ll leave it up to your imagination to think about why eating another animal, like a cow or a chicken, is not as gross as eating a fellow human. No matter how we look on the outside, we’re all pretty much the same on the inside.
This is what I came away asking myself: what it is that keeps many of us from making the connection I’ve illustrated here? What is it exactly that stops us from understanding that purposely eating another animal’s blood or body should be seen with as much revulsion as deliberately eating our own blood or bodies? And how do you get to that nugget of a trigger in each person’s mind that illuminates these connections so they can begin to understand what they’re participating in?