Monday 29 December 2003

Cult of the Mad Cow

How to find Hidden Valley
Americans seem to have a thing with cows, from the amount of beef they eat through Enron Capitalism to their first mad cow. Yes, a mad cow found on a farm called Hidden Valley Dairy in Washington State. You can read anything you want into the situation.
The reference to Enron Capitalism alludes to a jocular explanation of how corporations work with a cow analogy. The Enron part appears below, but access the link to read the rest.
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public buys your bull.
Indeed the public bought that bull for $62bn and the loss of a big five accountancy firm.
Obviously, one could comment on how to determine the co-ordinates of Hidden Valley Dairy, but we would leave that for the professional comedians.
The Story
Apparently, the farmers on that farm noticed a sick cow and wisely slaughtered it and put it in the food chain. A picture speaks louder than a thousand words, however, in the case of the picture of a mad cow, you will not notice much. A video recording of a mad cow, speaks volumes, one has to be so inured not to have the scene etched in one's memory.
A cow suffering from BSE - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Mad Cow Disease to you and me is as unsteady on its legs as a robot trying to walk downstairs, use your imagination.
The farmer slaughtered the cow, possibly for monetary purposes; one should not jump to conclusions, rather than incinerate the cow and lose money. The greed of capitalist pursuits almost always yield greater demons than cannot be tamed.
Now it transpires that meat from this cow has ended up in eight US states and the island of Guam.
Help me here - How on earth does meat from one cow end up in 9 places? By the mechanical extraction of meat.
Traditionally, you had the chop, rump, cut, slice or chunk none of which now suffice. After the butcher takes his chops, a machine sucks the meat off the bone and this ends up in burgers. YUCK!
Ahem! Before I end up in an Oprah experience, the truth really is, that is where it ends up, in the food of globalisation.
Only 18% of total American meat production gets exported and most of that to three countries that have now banned the importation of American beef for good reason.
Blame the North
The Canadians are now getting payback for not joining the Coalition of the Cajoled that invaded Iraq. The one mad cow found in Canada in May 2003 has already cost that industry over $2.5bn.
So, the plausible story from the US Food Agency is that this cow came from a batch of 74 imported from Canada in 1991. One would not be cajoled.
If that is the case, questions abound.
  • Why was the cow not just destroyed rather than fed into the food chain?
  • How long ago was this discovered before it became public?
  • Where are the other 73 cows of this batch that got imported?
  • What were the cows being fed, hay or the manufacture-tainted foodstuff?
Zero-risk meat
No thanks!
Cows being fed dead cows become mad cows. The infected parts of the mad cows are supposedly the brain and the spinal cord. Well, the brain and spinal cord got infected through the digestive system.
One being a layman, it is impossible to ignore the fact that any infected part of an animal is a sick animal, just as a headache reduces an effective performance of a human.
A mad cow cannot stand on its feet, salivates foamingly, one would recoil at the thought of touching it.
Zero-risk? I think NOT!
The function of dentition
The dentition of animals is linked to the digestive system and vice versa. Dental classification defines what animals eat, how it is masticated and made ready for digestion.
Herbivores eat plants and have a digestive system that allows for the food to be regurgitated and chewed again making it digestible. That process is known as chewing the cud. Cows are herbivores.
Carnivores are animals that eat other animals. Lions and wolves are examples of such animals.
Omnivores subsist on both plants and other animals. Humans are omnivores. It is surprising that after millions of years of evolution, certain humans evolved more dramatically in the last century to become saintly vegetarians or herbivores without a change in either their dentition or digestive systems.
The whole concept is absurd but does not lend itself to objective scrutiny on the part of the vegetarian.
In all cases, it is interesting to note that the herbivore, carnivore and omnivore feed their young milk. Bedlam (one-time a mental institution) almost beckons for patients who have evolved out of the norm.
Well, cows need to chew the cud, but when fed bone meal and offal as part of the non-evolutionary but crazy science balanced diet, their digestive balance is disrupted. In the case of milk-cows, more mucous ends up in the milk and that affects the taste of what is a useful life-giving source of nutrients.
Mucking around with our food
In the quest for ever-redder tomatoes, sun-yellow egg yolks and coloured carrots pandering to customer choice and better science of agriculture horrible Frankenstein foods are unleashed on our fragile digestive systems making way for humans with animal diseases.
Customer choice? What does a city-dweller born and bred in the city know about the real taste, colour, texture, appearance and quality of fresh food? However, they form the basis of the surveys conducted on what food should be like.
Blinding science with politically motivated assurances from professors with more letters after their names than the alphabet, belies the blunders of salmonella, listeria, E. coli 1057, BSE and genetically modified crops, none of which are now able to quell or curtail our hysteria whenever a food scare is announced.
There is no more trust of the establishment in these matters.
Humans are neither herbivores nor carnivores, but omnivores, we eat both plants and animals. Our physiology has evolved for that purpose.
Eating healthy and healthfully does not have to ignore that basic fact.
One warning and protest must always be - Stop mucking around with our food!

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