I don’t know about you, but when I find out disturbing things I feel, well…disturbed. (I checked the thesaurus for a better word to use, but obviously didn’t find one.) This week seems to be full of new disturbing facts I thought I’d share. I realize ignorance is bliss, so stop reading now if you’d rather not know.
This morning I found out my dog is, in fact, a cannibal. Maybe not technically, since cannibalism involves eating ones' own species, but I can't find a word to describe eating the head of animals, which is what she did.
It is something I’ve long suspected but could never find concrete evidence to prove until today. In the dark morning I trudged out into the yard in my housecoat and slippers (really a robe and crocs, but those words seem to flow better) to see why she wasn’t coming in when I called her. It took me a while to find the evidence, since we don’t seem to have functioning flashlights in the house, but the body of the poor bunny wasn’t far from my guilty-looking puppy. There stood my dog, a warrior protecting her kingdom from intruders, licking her lips and waiting for my approval. I didn’t find the head. Yuk.
While it is disturbing to find out a beloved pet has little regard for other species, at least I know she reacts by instinct. I almost hear her thought process: “See bunny. Chase bunny. Kill bunny. Eat bunny head. House is safe. Life is good.”
It’s when I realize how different people and animals are that I have to recognize how disturbing human behavior is sometimes. I recently re-read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which deals with, among other issues, the meat-packing industry in the early 1900’s. I then decided to look into how the industry has changed since then, expecting drastic improvements and reassurance that all is good with my food. Wrong. Of course over the years I've heard about the use of growth hormones and animal living conditions, but I never really wanted to find out more. Ignorance is bliss.
Sure, some things may have changed since Sinclair wrote The Jungle, but the way animals are raised—many times in horrible, unsanitary conditions after being fed hormones to make them grow faster—pulls at the heartstrings of any humane person. I feel horribly hypocritical as a meat-eater, but I at least want to know that the life the animal led contained some fresh air and freedom to roam without harmful drugs and injections. The images shown on commercials of happy animals grazing in open fields are far from the reality faced by most animals headed for our tables. The fast food industry plays a major role in how our food is processed, and the bottom line is profit.
In too many instances, the growth process is sped up so quickly that the animals bones cannot keep up, making them unable to move. Ever wonder why chicken breasts found in stores are so large? It’s not normal. Either are the drugs and hormones we end up ingesting. It’s disturbing. I’m still processing (no pun intended) everything I’ve discovered to try to figure out what to do about it.
In the meantime, if you want to know more I suggest a few documentaries: Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, and then Super Size Me. You'll never eat the same way again.
But I understand ignorance is bliss. I almost wish I didn't know the truth about my dog, and I almost wish I didn't know the actual contents of a chicken nugget (spoiler alert: it's really not much chicken.) But now that I do I have to act somehow. I'll keep you posted.