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Let Them Eat Horse

I myself don’t want to consume horse meat, but I have no opinion if people who consider it a delicacy would like to import it from the good ol’ US of A.

By CARRIE ELLIS, Editor, Chem.Info

I realize it’s a huge fad to buy local, eat organic, know what’s in your food, count calories, hit the gym, read labels, cross-train for triathlons and be health-conscious to the max.  (Honestly, I can feel my eyes glazing over even as I write this because everyone seems to have a contradicting opinion on everything, easily boring me into a pizza-induced coma.) But how far have you gone to impose your ethics on other people’s food and eating behaviors?

I’m sure all of us carnivores and omnivores have had our meat-laden platters handed back to us over an animal rights argument by imploring animal enthusiasts and activists. In contrast, I’m sure we’ve all pinched our noses in response to someone eating something that would be equally repugnant to us. Especially as a self-proclaimed (perhaps counter-intuitively) animal lover, it’s an uncomfortable situation. The bottom line is that I enjoy eating meat, but I bow my head in reverence to the animals that had to endure … whatever they had to endure, whether coming from a factory farm or a free-range pasture or public hunting grounds.

To elucidate, I myself don’t necessarily want to consume horse meat (although I have had exceptional jerky from an abusive llama [formerly a pet], may he rest in peace despite the cracked ribs of his owner), but I have no opinion if people who consider horse meat a delicacy would like to import horse meat from the good ol’ US of A.

I have a hunch that the idea of every little girl’s dream gift ending up on a foreign dining room table has something to do with the stalling in regard to the controversial topic of opening horse slaughterhouses in the United States. Right now, a war is being waged over the newly legalized practice of slaughtering houses, so a couple of proposed plants—one in Missouri, another in New Mexico—have been hanging in legislative purgatory since.  

In 2006, Congress banned U.S. horse slaughter by defunding USDA inspections for horse meat, but in 2011, it quietly reinstated the coffer as part of a larger budget bill. Although the USDA won’t have the means to get its horse inspection program up and running until the end of this year, there is much uncertainty whether that will be the case for long.

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, “In June, Rep. Jim Moran, R-Va., moved to strip the USDA of money to perform the inspections. His reasoning: Americans don't eat horse meat, and taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize foreign palates.”

In an Associated Press article, horse sympathizers, it seems, are in favor of the more humane slaughter of horses under U.S. regulations, as opposed to more lax standards in Mexico and other target export countries: “The New Mexico Horse Council, which represents more than 200 horse owners and 30 horse clubs, sent the governor a letter, saying an informal survey of its members showed 94 percent favor humane slaughter.

“‘Horses deserve better than to be abandoned, starved, or transported long distances in overcrowded trucks to slaughter in foreign countries,’ the letter from council President Rusty Cook said, noting rescue facilities are unable to care for all the unwanted horses.

I grew up watching Mr. Ed, and admittedly, I loved his antics. But with such a high unemployment rate, wouldn’t you want Americans, under arguably more humane standards, ushering him through his last days, even if it disagrees with your palate?

What’s your take? Please feel free to comment below or email [email protected]