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Dinner dates and death

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jul 17 2015 10:00AM

Serious Topic Alert. There is a slightly dark tone to this blog piece but a necessary one.

Last weekend we killed and ate our dinner. We stabbed it twice and then barbecued it. Ask yourself honestly whether you were at all uncomfortable reading that? If you were, can you put your finger on why? Is it because you find the idea of eating an animal unpleasant or merely the idea of being invovled in its death?

The meal in question was a large spider crab that we caught diving off the Dorset coast. We killed him in the recommended way (the crab is pierced, once between the eyes and once on the underside, to kill both its nerve centres) and then barbecued him on the beach. It sounds brutal, and it is, but is also about as quick and "humane" as killing an animal can be. He had lived a long, entirely free range life and when the end came he died quickly. Yet some people will be uncomfortable with the idea of being present when their dinner dies.

As society evolves, most of us are increasingly detached from the source of our food and we're increasingly unaware of what goes into its production. Surely we owe it to ourselves, not to kill all of our own food or even to witness its death, but at least to understand where it comes from and what it goes through in order to arrive on our dinner plate. Whether we're talking about a fish, game bird, cow or a crustacean, every time we eat meat or fish an animal dies to feed us and buying the produce from a shop invariably shields us from the worst of the process that is involved in taking its life. It is an unpleasant and sometimes barbarous process. Yet, without understanding where our food comes from and what it goes through in order to reach our plates, how can we decide if it's something we want to be part of?

As with so many things, the answer is to to educate ourselves. Rather than seeing meat and fish as sterile, packaged commodities on the supermarket shelf, we should make it our mission to understand as much as possible about how it got there. How was it born, how did it die and how was it treated every step of the way? The more we know, the more we can make informed choices and the more we, as consumers, can make the food chain an ethical one that we are happy to be at the top of.

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