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Mar 3, 2010 09:19 AM

Don't tell the kids...NYT food section today

I found this article very offensive, in tone and content. Not cute, not funny, not of gastronomic interest, just awful. Save me from Brooklyn wannabe hipster bunny murderers.

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  1. While the title (and a few phrases) were a bit flip, I didn't find the article to be offensive. Rather, I found it interesting in that it dispelled some of my assumptions (such as rabbit never having been a major source of meat in the US--for some reason, I'd always thought it WAS fairly common). At the farmer's market I shopped at when I lived in PA, one stand always had poultry and rabbits (farm-raised). I AM an omnivore who has never killed an animal for food, so I do have some grudging respect for those who can do what I have someone else do for me.

    I am curious why you felt that way (genuinely curious--this is NOT a criticism!)

    5 Replies
    1. re: nofunlatte

      I really wonder how many of the participants would be willing to slaughter a bigger animal in order to get closer to the source of the meat they eat. I grew up with a father who hunted and saw him dress deer etc, and the major part of our meat came from local farms, so I am not of the meat comes in packages in the supermarket mindset. My response to this is largely an emotional one. When I posted I had seen the picture on the front page of the section in passing - with that flip title - and had read the online version of the article which emphasized the killing over the gastronomic (the print article went further into cooking). Yes killing is a necessary evil if people are to eat meat of any kind, I just do not think that popularizing it as a putatively educational exercise is a good idea.

      1. re: buttertart

        Some people feel an ethical imperative to avoid meat unless they're willing to kill the animal themselves. IMO it's a reaction to the "packages in the supermarket mindset" you commented on. I understand that you don't feel that imperative, but I have a hard time understanding your problem with those who do.

        Do you find it offensive that these people are being taught how to slaughter animals, that the animals at issue are rabbits, or that the process is receiving publicity?

        Teaching people to slaughter small livestock is nothing new. The fact that it's being done in a Brooklyn parking lot instead of at the county extension office in a rural town shouldn't really make a difference.

        As far as rabbits vs. larger animals, the simple fact is that city dwellers don't have much access to cattle. And since a beef carcass provides dozens or even hundreds of meals, and giant chest freezers are not common fixtures in small urban apartments, a steer is typically divided among many people. If money changes hands for that division, you've suddenly got the USDA involved, and the slaughter has to happen at a licensed facility. So that's not really an option.

        But what if it were a different animal of the same size? Would you find it equally offensive if people were being taught how to slaughter chickens? Some people consider rabbits to be pets, and find eating them tantamount to eating the family dog. But that's a purely social construct. My family raised rabbits when I was growing up, and there was never any question that their ultimate destination was the dinner table.

        The fact that people are trying to connect with their food is, IMO, legitimate news. If you're offended by tone of the article, though, I can kind of see where you're coming from. The "hip-hop cuisine" and "don't tell the kids" lines are a little too flip for my taste. As somebody who's pretty far removed from effete urban attitudes, I can't really gauge whether the article was written for its potential shock value. But to the extent it was, I don't think that's appropriate. On the other hand, I don't think the tone needs to be completely somber, either.

        I've taught a number of friends to slaughter and butcher their livestock, and believe the experience is always educational and sometimes transformative. The process is always unpleasant, and I'd generally rather let someone else do it for me, but it's not a bad thing to know that you can kill your own meat if you choose to.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          It was the flippant tone primarily. I also find it unlikely that too many of the participants will go on to keeping rabbits for meat. If that were the case, I could see it being of value to the participants. I grew up in a smallish city that is in the middle of farm country and while I never participated in slaughter, I certainly was acquainted with some of the animals my family went on to eat. I also can't imagine any of the farmers/abbatoir workers/butchers I knew remotely entertaining the thought of giving lessons in killing animals to urbanites.

          1. re: buttertart

            the younger end of the food culture is so unbelievably earnest - and polarized between vegetarians and those who "meat" with theirr friends. Traditional foodways, including animal butchering have always been rather realistic and not emotionally based. As has been remarked in other contexts, food and eating seem to be increasingly delinked from survival and normal family life.

            Id like to think that there was an element of realism (developing a new food resource and new skills) in the butchering training,, but the article itself (the pictures and writing and the uneasiness about actually being close to killing animals) made it difficult not to be creeped out. by the undertaking.

        2. re: buttertart

          buttertart--even though I don't share your views on this, thank you for clarifying why you felt the way you did. I do understand emotional reactions and I'd probably gasp if this were kittens (even though, intellectually, I understand that this is a culturally based reaction). In one of your other responses, you did mention the "pet" thing--my colleague has had several rescue rabbits, so I understand this, too. Regardless, while I don't view this story the same way you do, I am glad that you took the time to answer my question.

      2. I found it helpful. I've long felt that rabbits are the most promising meat for people to rear and slaughter themselves; ecologically, rabbits go directly from leaf vegetables to animal protein. Rabbit is delicious; rabbit liver is the finest of livers (finer than calf liver). All around, it's something to promote for people who are interested in taking more control of their consumption of animal flesh but are not going the vegetarian route.

        1. You mean you don't find articles about killing bunnies and eating cats to be simply hilarious???

          Incredible world, ain't it?

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. I wouldn't even read the article once I saw the beautiful white bunny on the front page. I've never liked eating rabbit since I always equated it to eating a pet (plus the Fatal Attraction movie scene grossed me out). Now, I definitely will refuse to eat it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ellenost

                Thank you. There are pet issues involved with me (pet by proxy, friends' and relatives' not my own) as well, that's why I said it was an emotional respone.