THE brutal imagery of defenceless cattle being slaughtered in Indonesia has caused outrage among the Australian community, although the butcher won’t be going out of business anytime soon and Coles will still be selling beef.
The fate of the majority of domesticated cattle in Australia can be predicted as soon as they are carefully bred using genetically superior bulls and cows at one of the many stud farms scattered throughout the country. This of course ensures the most tender meat.
If a calf is unlucky enough to be born a bull the consequences are dire; he must now be transformed into a steer. A steer is a bull castrated before sexual maturity to ensure the majority of his muscles will grow at his rear – where the choicest cuts are – and not the front.
Once he has grown to a satisfactory size it is off to the abattoir to be slaughtered humanely, carved into familiar names such as porterhouse and eye fillet and then into your refrigerator. Perhaps a part of him will be forgotten at the back of the shelf and thrown in the rubbish bin a few days later.
Imagine what Mr Steer is thinking whilst grazing in the fields of cow heaven. A person who has never met him, wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to kill him, let alone prepare him, suddenly has the privilege to eat his meat or discard it like a piece of rubbish.
This opens the question of the 21st century hunter-gatherer. Should we eat animals that we cannot kill ourselves? And is it just to cry foul at slaughter techniques abroad whilst we turn a blind eye to rearing processes in our own backyard? Has supermarket convenience stripped us of our most primal skills; hunting and gathering?
The choice of what us homo-sapiens had to eat in the days of old was whatever was in season at the time and whatever we managed to hunt ourselves. Now our hunting methods are taking the car to the supermarket and shooting meat with a check-out laser reader.
So next time you’re at a fast-hunting outlet, see the butchers section for what it really is, not porterhouse and eye-fillet but pieces of what was once animals and ask yourself the question; could you kill it?