thanksgiving_turkey_2

My “liberal” credentials might take a bit of a beating here. But, what the hell, I am African… I can’t pull punches just to make people feel better about themselves. I have some beef with what we eat…

You know I don’t like Palin. She an empty head with lots of background noise. I’m not even going to go into that. Just have a look at a few of the things I’ve written about her to know I am not a fan. See the letter I wrote to Sarah, or how six degrees of separation makes her anti-American and not a maverick, or what I want in a Vice President. Oh, there are many more. But those will give you a sense of my dislike of the lipstick pig.

And here I am defending her. Dammit. I thought about it for a while… But I know I have to. It’s about meat you see. And I am a meatarian. Ooh… Not everyone likes that part of me. Mmm. A few nice tjops and a boerewors on the open fire… Mouth watering sh*t I tell you. Anyway. Go have a look at my views on eating meat. Unpopular? Maybe. Do I care? Hum… Sorry… Was that a question? I eat meat. Live with it.

What am I talking about? I am talking about the “turkey incident”. You know, the one with Sarah “Empty Head” Palin talking to the media while a guy is busy cutting the throat of a turkey in the background to drain the blood. And of course, kill the bird. Here is a link to that just in case you haven’t seen it yet. Do what I did… Turn off the sound and just watch the guy in the background. I really have no reason to hear her voice. She sounds just like a bunch of turkeys in any case. And about as predictable. Have you ever stood with a bunch of turkeys and made the turkey “kulu-kulu-kulu” sound? Yep, they all react the same way by singing it all back to you in unison. Just like Sarah and her gang of bigots. You push the button and she’ll sing it back… So predictable. Anyway… Here is the video.

It was all over the news. People were up in arms about her being so stupid to stand in front of the cameras while the guy is killing the bird in the background. How could she? Is she that stupid? Hum… Yes, this “bird” is that stupid but it has nothing to do with the bird in the background. I really don’t get what the fuss was about?

Are you shocked about the killing of the bird? WTF? How did you think that turkey got on your plate over Thanksgiving? Do you think they were massaged till they died a peaceful death? Or that they died of some natural cause?

Yep. They did die of a natural cause. Natural for a turkey in any case. They got slaughtered. And nicely packaged for your convenience. Ready to place your order for a 16 pound turkey and pick it up at Roche Brothers the day before Thanksgiving. And then you stick it in the oven for a few hours and… Wallah! Turkey time!

(Oh, we had a chicken on steroids for Thanksgiving. Eight pounds – the smallest one you could order. Hey, the butcher frowned at our un-American size turkey – even after we explained we are four very normal size people. Two kids and two grown ups. But that maple syrup did the trick. Nice and juicy! Thanks babe.)

Back to reality… The meat you eat were once little calves and chicks and little piggies and little baa baa white sheep. Yes, they were cute once. But now they are dinner. Or maybe just mashed up into a burger or something. Get used to it. The things we call meat were once alive. Now they are nicely done (medium rare as the chef said) and on our dinner plates. Live with it.

More importantly, own it.

I find it amazing that people were shocked at the video. I just can’t understand how people can think that food comes nicely packaged without any consequences. Meat doesn’t grow on trees. Their natural state isn’t wrapped in plastic and in cold storage. They don’t grow up from little 1 ounce steaks into the half-pounder you slap on the grill.

I don’t have a problem with what I eat. I slaughtered a few sheep in my time. And cattle for that matter. Plucked a few chickens. Even helped a turkey or two from their kulu-kulu state into my plate. That’s life. I am from Africa and had to go to the farm when there was a break from school. I’m glad I did it.

And I am happy that I slaughtered the sheep and cows and chickens and rabbits and deer or whatever else came my way from the farm or when we went hunting. We ate what we killed. It wasn’t for fun. It was for food and to control the numbers. Too many wild animals and the semi-desert area would turn into a desert area if we didn’t cull the animals and control the numbers. Like I said, it wasn’t for fun.

But I am still glad I knew what I ate. And I am glad that I could take ownership of what I ate. From the farm to my plate. I knew the animals and knew what they were for. We always looked after them and fed them. Gave them space to live and kept them healthy. But they weren’t there to be played with. We respected them and treated them well. And then we will slaughter them in the best and quickets way we can. Always with respect and acknowledgement that we owe them as much as what we own them. Because we knew that in the end we will eat them. And live.

My only problem now is that I don’t know where my meat comes from. I know about the force-feeding of turkeys and the steroids for juicy steaks and the transporting of sheep. I don’t like it. I don’t. But I have to make a choice. I either eat it and know what might have happened along the way or I should shut the f*ck up and go eat some celery.

Oh I try to be organic when I can afford it and when I can get it. I make sure I have as much information as possible. But I am not going to live in the clouds and think that there are no consequences. I know that there are some major sh*t going on in the US when it comes to the stuff they call meat. Those large commercial farms are not a pretty sight. But that happens when you want your steaks and you want your burgers. It’s as horrid as you can imagine and then some. Sh*t happens when we want to eat meat.

Know what you eat. Live with it. Don’t try and think you are all “eco-activist” by getting worked up about the turkey getting slaughtered. Those horrid pictures… That’s life. That’s how you get your food. Know it. Live with it. And then eat it.

I do. I’m not going to bullsh*t myself. I might be a disgusting bastard and barbaric African for eating meat, but I am not going to be a hypocrite. I know it. I live with it. And I eat it.

Don’t think your all organic green salad is that much better. Farming soya is killing the Amazon forest. And it tastes like crap. (No thanks, I’ve tried it many, many times in different ways. It always tastes shite.) What makes a plant so much worse than a cow? Just because it doesn’t have whiskers and a heartbeat?

It’s so stupid. People trying to humanize the animals we eat. Cows with glasses on? Yeah, it is funny… But it is also a piece of steak away from being on my plate. Chicken Little? Wait till he grows up. Babe? Mmm, wonder what the farmer did with him when he got old? Sorry, these animals don’t live the lives we are told on the telly or read in those nice bedtime stories. Those are stories, not life. I laugh at the stories of animals done so beautifully by Pixar and the Disney gang and I love Back To The Barnyard. But I also know that calling the main cow Otis doesn’t mean he won’t be eaten when the time comes.

You like cats or dogs? Guess what… The stuff you feed them? Used to be the crap left over after they cut the choice meat for us. Or the fish heads left over after we got our frozen bits cut into nice cubes. We eat meat. Or some of us do. And we should know what we eat and not be disgusted by how we get it. That is bigotry. Or at least hypocritical.

Thank God we don’t hear the broccoli scream as you snap the stem, dry freeze it before it is stuffed in a plastic bag and then dropped in boiled water or nuked by the microwave. Oh, those poor, poor broccoli. And the cute little peas. What did they ever do to you? Or do you wait for the carrot to die a natural death?

No. I am not going to eat roadkill. I know what I eat. Or at least as much as what I can know. I am not going to flinch when I see a picture of a dead animal getting slaughtered and packaged. I am going to look at it and then slap it on the grill.

I know it. I see it. I own it. I live with it. And I eat it.

Do you?

meat

Children sweating in the fields on the farms in the Ivory Coast or in the factories in Bangladesh. Children are working up a sweat – whether it is cocoa or soccer balls. Now it is in the cotton fields in Uzbekistan. Yes, we found another place where these pesky little people work when they shouldn’t be working so hard – or not work at all. I mean really, kids should be going to school and playing in the parks. Right? Maybe not as clear-cut as that. What’s wrong with a bit of child labor?

What’s wrong with kids working. Hey, my kid better clean her room before the all new tough dad comes a knocking (hear the laughter in the background – we had kids so I can have mates of my mental age to play with). But seriously, kids should do some work. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. The streets ain’t what they used to be. Just look at the yobs out in the streets in the UK. Oh, our bleeding bloody hearts. These poor little kids, poor little Peter, have nothing to do but sit around and drink and smoke. And we should support them a bit more if they get into some mischief (like stealing from and/or mugging people). Just today the UK moaned and bitched about disciplining the kids that are in detention centres. Oh shame, those poor little kids. All they did was rob, mug and assault people. What is a stab-wound between friends?

And then we look back and talk about the good old days. Remember the good old days? What did you do in the good old days as a kid? Backchat your folks? You get a piece of that leather on your backside for that. We didn’t have time to rob or assault people – we had to earn our meager little money (if any) the hard way. In the fields and in the roads and in the house.

For those privileged enough to have grown up in nice neighbourhoods. Remember what the kids had to do? They had to deliver newspapers. Come rain or susnshine – ride that bike and deliver them newspapers. Mr Wilson didn’t care if precious little Tommy was going to rain wet or not. He wanted his newspapers and Tommy took the responsibility of delivering them. Now? It’s a guy in his 30’s driving his car and flinging the newspapers out his window. Yes – that’s what happens in my street. Why? Because Tommy’s mom is a bit scared he might get a cold and he is still sleeping you know. He was up till late last night playing World of Warcraft. Tiring, I know. Maybe I am completely wrong and that 30-year old guy actually started delivering the newspaper about 20 years ago and just refuses to give it up. He’s got a nice little racket going there.

And for those who grew up on the farms? You think Chuck had the luxury of lying in a bit before school? And get his breakfast in bed over weekends – at about 10 in the morning at the earliest? Don’t think so. You want some cereal this morning Chuck? Good – go cut some corn and milk the cows first. Cornflakes and milk don’t grow in containers you know. Get up at 4:30 and do your work before getting ready for school – and cycle to school. No soccer moms back then. You want to play soccer? Then run to school to warm up. I’ll show you what to do with that ball. Those Bangladesh kids worked hard to make those soccer balls you know.

But for the majority of kids there were no good old days. You see many of them did grow up on the farm. But it wasn’t their farm. They were just the workers on the farm. Little Sipho also got up early in the morning with young Willem (South African names). They were good friends back then. They milked the cows together and had their morning chat about what mischief they were going to get into later that day. When Willem gets back from school. Sipho didn’t go to school. Didn’t make sense. His folks earned next to nothing on the farm and to make ends meet Sipho had to work. And even if the farmer treated his workers like his children – these children didn’t go to school. No. They had to work. What else were they going to do?

And the other kids in the township? Some of them went to school. Where they were taught in a foreign language by a teacher with little or no qualifications. But it was better than nothing. Because those with nothing ended up working. But not in the “nice” places like the factory or the farms. No. They ended up working on the rubbish dump. Joseph is picking through the rubbish that the “rich” threw away. Collecting the empty bottles and paper to sell to the recyclers. And picking the copper out of wires to melt and sell. And sometimes you find a few nice toys or clothes or sport equipment that you can wash off and clean up nicely. And then sell it at the market on Saturday. Some “easy” cash those toys and clothes.

And what about Kwame? Kwame would think Joseph has it easy. But he doesn’t know about Joseph. Because Kwame doesn’t know much outside his world – his world where he travels between the mine and the hostel. Hostage of the mines. The chemical mines. Those chemicals we need for our medicine. But it’s medicine little Kwame won’t get. He’ll die to young and the medicine is to deal with obesity and hair-loss – things he will never suffer from. No. Those would be the least of his worries. And then there is Abhra doing the stitching of those soccer balls. But stitching the soccer balls is better than the alternative – selling your body for a little bit of food and money.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Those in the cocoa fields are lucky. More than 80% of them are actually members of the family who owns the farm. Like Willem. They work on the farms because it is their farm. School would be great. But it doesn’t put food on the table today. And learn about what? Maths and science and geography? All you need to know is the maths of running a (small) profit on the farm to feed everyone – know how much it costs you to grow your crops and how much you get when you sell you crops. And the science you need is knowing how to grow your crops and use the right fertiliser to make sure they grow well. And the geography of how you use the lay of the land – and plan for good weather and bad weather. They don’t teach those maths and science and geography in the school. No. That’s what you get from working on the farm and listening to the old and wise men who have been doing it since – since their father told them. This is the schooling you need because this farm will be your farm one day. And you have no time to waste on theories when the reality of climate change is coming your way.

We need more child labour in this world. More children knowing how the crops grow. Because they need to feed us tomorrow. They are our future. If they don’t grow it no one will. And we need more child labour to keep those yobs off the streets. Give them something meaningful to do. Something that will keep them busy. Work is a natural restraint – we won’t need those detention centres then.

But of course it isn’t that easy. No. We know the world isn’t black and white. Because what do we do with Joseph? What do we do with Kwame and Abhra? That is where we fail. Those kids on the rubbish dumps and the mines and the prostitutes. They are still there. Picking through what we threw away. Digging for those ingredients we need to make us feel better. Stitching the soccer balls little Tommy needs. And for those pictures we find on the internet – sorry, I can’t even go there. That’s just too hard. This is too hard.

I have kids. I don’t mind them working. In fact, they should be working. But there is a line. A line that crosses all cultures. A line no culture has the right to cross. But we needed to give people choices. We need a little less of Kwame and Peter – a little bit less working on the rubbish dump and living on the streets and a little less of being a rubbish yob in the streets. Let the children work. But remember who they are. They are children. They are our children. I have two daughters. And this is too hard. I need some hot cocoa now.

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