Wednesday, October 5, 2011
For Pro-Life Thoughts Inspired By A Food Critic
I unwittingly came across one of the best Pro-Life articles I’ve ever read (via the mainstream media) in the latest on-line edition of Time magazine. The funny thing is, the author probably didn't realize that is what he was writing about. But that’s the wonderful way unintended graces work themselves out. You write one thing, and I see another, which in a nutshell is why sola scriptura is nonsense (but that's a post for another day).
The piece, written by Josh Ozersky (a James Beard Award—winning food writer and the author of The Hamburger: A History) is about food, not people. Specifically, it is about killing and eating young animals, and why we really shouldn’t be doing that. As I was reading it, it struck me that many of the same arguments work well for why we shouldn’t be killing young human beings.
Below you’ll find Josh’s short piece in plain script, and my parallel thoughts in italics. There I was, just minding my own business and reading about food,
The Gastronomic Case Against Eating Baby Animals
It's odd, given American meat eaters' sporadic bursts of conscience, that as a nation we are so O.K. with infanticide. Veal cutlets, suckling pigs, spring lambs, game hens — with or without the euphemisms, I know that I've made my peace with eating very young animals. But it's hard not to be struck by the peculiar blindness of people who fawn over puppies and kittens and devour their barnyard analogs.
Heh. What’s weirder is that many of these same folks are blind to the even sicker reality of killing unborn human beings. Wee tiny baby boys and girls, surgically scrambled up, dismembered, and fed to the garbage cans of abortion clinics all across the country. Talk about peculiar blindness. The case for killing human babies has peculiarly blind reasoning behind it too.
I don't have much to say on the subject of morality, and wouldn't presume to offer advice to fellow sinners even if I did, but I can say this: if you want a good reason not to eat baby animals, consider the fact that they really don't taste that good.
Seriously, sinners ‘r us, for sure. As for the morality of killing unborn children, did you notice how easily your eyes just slipped over those words? Let me shout it from the rooftop: WE’RE KILLING LITTLE BABIES?! How sick of a culture are we for making murdering babies legal? Look at this picture.
See, you don’t have to be right-leaning, Moral Majority card carrying, Catholic Christian, pro-life zealot, to “get” the idea that killing unborn human children is wrong. Stop hiding behind Roe vs. Wade, put you thinking caps on, and look at the facts.
Animals, like most everything else in nature, grow stronger as they move from infancy to adulthood: they develop more fat, more muscle, more everything. They've eaten more food, and the food they've eaten changes them; it makes them taste like their food, which can be a very good thing indeed. I am against eating baby animals on gastronomic principle alone. The flavor of all immature animals is uniformly bland. The real taste of sheep isn't to be found in lamb, but rather in mutton; no teensy little 4-lb. chicken is ever going to have the flavor of a fat old hen.
The similarities to feeding baby humans is striking again. You see, baby human beings develop more of everything as they mature too. Language skills, manual dexterity, cognitive skills etc., etc. They too eat and grow and develop and the next thing you know you’ve got what no pet animal will ever achieve for the world: folks with the ability to send rockets to Mars, cure the common cold, and fix your car so the dreaded “check-engine” light doesn’t come on. And these same folks will build the networks of the future , pay into our old age retirement systems, and do all the other neat stuff that our social programs and economic systems are built upon. The real payoff is when the babies become adults. Which begs the question,
So why, then, do we persist in eating babies? One reason, though not the real one, has to do with texture. Baby animals don't taste great — really, they don't taste much like anything — but their flesh is tender and so satisfies a country where the greatest compliment any meat can receive is that "you can eat it with a spoon." Yes, baby animals are "like butter," but so what? Take an old tom turkey, or the shoulder of a 250-lb. hog, and cook it for many hours in a heavy pot, a slow oven or a sous vide bag, and it'll be "like butter" too.
Hold those thoughts on the butter and let me ask, Why do we continue to kill unborn babies? Insanity is all I can figure. It’s mind-blowing to know that as a culture we are like farmers who are eating our seed corn, instead of planting it. It’s mind blowing that our governments don’t see the fact that killing off future generations will leave us barren and starving. We’re setting ourselves up to be starved of the life blood of innovation that comes from the stock of human capital that we have been blessed with. Man, I’m starting to get hungry for a turkey sandwich.
No, the real reason we eat a lot of baby animals is much cruder than any misguided preference for tender meat. Here's the thing about raising meat: Americans don't like to pay a lot for it. The longer an animal lives, the longer its owner has to shelter it and feed it; so every day it's allowed to live makes it less profitable. That's why the ribs at Burger King are the size of dominoes, and the chicken at Popeyes is barely bigger than quail. It's not pure evil on the part of the producers; even small farms can't afford to keep many animals alive for many years.
The inconvenient truth: people cost money. I knew there would be a Mammon angle here somewhere. Are we just killing off future generations now because of the costs in money and time of raising these future producers? How short sighted. You just want your sex sterile and to not be bothered with the little people that results from this? Grow up. By the way, the Mammon angle is the same one for killing off the elderly too, which means you sooner or later. You’ll be too damn costly to keep around. But getting back to the future, good investors( and an enlightened Mammon) know that the real returns on capital are not instantaneously achieved, but that they compound over time. It’s no different with human capital, except the returns far outweigh the costs of production.
Which is sad, both for the animals and for us. I was in Italy last week, and, as you might expect, I ate a lot of good things (spaghetti, obviously; there was spaghetti flying at all four walls). But the thing that made the strongest impression on me was probably the single ugliest thing I ate during the whole week: a plate of braised wild boar in Montalcino. That boar tasted powerfully of pork. Not sage, not smoke, not soy or mustard or red-pepper vinegar. No, it tasted like pork. If you had a pork chop like that in Chicago or Atlanta, your first thought would be that it had gone bad. It was "gamey," a catch-all adjective that we use to describe meat tastes that aren't mellow and sweet.
In the case of our killing baby humans, it’s more than just sad, or tragic. It’s abominable. Want to be able to fly to Italy to eat spaghetti in the future? That’ll be hard to do if there aren’t people to build, fly, and maintain the aircraft. Or design faster, better aircraft to get there quicker and cheaper. And like the strong dishes mentioned above (I’m getting hungry again!), people in all of their richness and the fullness of humanity are pretty “gamey” too. Mellow and sweet at times, and hell on wheels other times. But like my friend the foodie writes…
But that's O.K.; grownup people should like grownup tastes. In any case, the art of cooking is supplied with a lot of strong flavors to complement and support big, bold tastes. "I like tastes that know their own minds," wrote A.J. Liebling, one of the all-time great gastronomes, in 1959. "The reason that people who detest fish often tolerate sole is that sole doesn't taste very much like fish, and even this degree of resemblance disappears when it is submerged in [sauce]." Liebling thought such indifference to intrinsic flavor was a sign of weak-mindedness, and he thought that it also explained the popularity of such things as Golden Delicious apples, American cheese and vodka cocktails.
Killing our young is a clear sign of weak-mindedness too. Isn’t that obvious? Grownup people should also let babies grow up, because in that way the fullness of life, in all its dignity and depravity, can be achieved. To what purpose? That’s not my call, nor is it yours.
If you want to taste what meat really is, then don't eat lamb: eat mutton. You already know how much better a great steak is than a thin, wan piece of veal, so wouldn't it follow that that steak would taste even better another year down the road? Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten is still talking about a 10-year-old draft ox he ate a couple of years ago in Spain. Maybe I'll go there on my next trip.
In much the same way, I can truly say if you want to taste what life is all about, then don’t kill babies: let them grow up! And like the foodie is still raving about that great meal he had in Spain (some babies grow up to be spectacular chefs!), I am still raving about the day each of my children were born, all the trials and triumphs of their lives (and mine) right up to that campout I enjoyed with my 10 year old cub scout last weekend; hearing my 12 year old daughter’s prayer requests over dinner every night; and watching my 15 year old son hit two line drives (one to left field, and one to right) and steal second base twice.
Life is good! Killing young animal life is always a little strange, but killing baby human beings? That is always evil. There is no way to put a happy face on it. Now...what’s for lunch?
Update: Jimmy Akin asks, does sin make you stupid?