Butchering Livestock: Essay Samples
The Beauty of Eating Meat
The process is fairly simple and requires only a few essential tools, but these basics are just as important as the pen is to the scribe, or the brush to the painter. To begin with, weapons are needed. Sure, weapons often carry with them a negative connotation, one that screams violence and harm, but what better way to change this ill perception than with art—the art of the slaughter. Most butchers use knives and saws to do the job (Slaughter). Wait, no, there are guns involved as well. In fact, a shotgun is a most useful tool. Dinny Slaughter explains: “Fill a 12-gauge shotgun with high brass No. 4 or 5 shot, stand about 10 feet from the steer, and imagine two lines drawn from the base of each ear to the opposite eye. Then carefully aim for the spot where the lines cross and fire. The shot will make a silver dollar-sized hole in the animal's skull, and the beast will immediately drop to the ground.” Simple, eh? Textbook stuff, really.
The next step is caring for the carcass. Yes, carcass also tends to have a negative connotation, so perhaps a more fitting term would be the “butcher’s canvas,” because now the artistry can really begin. Dinny Slaughter describes the next few steps in vivid detail but rest assured that there might be “thrashing hooves” while the butcher must “force its head back as far as possible” (Slaughter). This, however, sounds all too primitive, too fumbling. The art begins with a sharp blade—the sharpest of blades to sculpt the butcher’s canvas as cleanly and as artistically as possible. The cuts must be precise, careful not to puncture any other organs on the canvas. Then, when the canvas is cut wide open down the middle, the spreading and stretching can begin to make a small canvas even bigger and more visible for any curious onlookers. As it bleeds out, the colors will be beautiful and vibrant!
The next step may seem dull, but this is where the artist (butcher) really shines: the skinning. The skinning is no laughing matter. It takes careful concentration and, with the help of a little gravity, there will be ready slabs of skin flying in all directions as if peeling a potato. Perhaps this is to be too figurative, too nonchalant. Those thick slabs of skin require a good deal of elbow grease and a steady hand to separate the outer canvas from the inner canvas. These precious pieces of the outer canvas are most excellent when served as cracklin’ with a side of horseradish (but that preparation is an altogether different sort of artistry).
Once the skin is peeled back (like a banana, perhaps, instead of a potato), the carving can begin. Few artists besides the butcher have such a plethora of artistic skills. This is also when the artist digs back into his bag of tools to remove the much celebrated hacksaw to make some much needed alterations, refining the canvas of such blemishes like hooves. The precious material once stored within the canvas can be emptied out, so the canvas can shine in all of its hollow glory. But this never lasts too long, for the carving must begin before the night is out, and thick, delicious cuts of meat, the butcher’s finest brushstrokes, must be sliced away and packed into a freezer or, alternatively, right into the oven.
It doesn’t end there, however. No, meat-eaters stay close to their meat throughout the entire process. In fact, once that fine piece of art enters the mouth and moves its way into the stomach, it shows no sign of going anywhere. According to Dr. Oz, “A steak dinner can take you two, maybe three days to get out of your intestine. What that means is the way you digest it is basically to rot it in your intestines” (“Facing”). But that is just what meat-eating is all about—community, solidarity, symbiosis. The beautiful process, from beginning to end, is one of connection, and shouldn’t we be connected to the food that we consume? Often times with vegetables, no one knows where it comes from. No one knows just what kind of planting and harvesting techniques were used. Where’s the art in that? Vegetables leave us feeling lonely and forlorn because that old instinctual connection is missing. That certainly is not the case with meat. From the minute the butcher raises his shotgun to the rotting end, meat-eating is an absolute art.
Only a fool would decline to be part of such a process of artistic inspiration. From the tools to the attitude to the process of the slaughter to the process in our bellies, the business of eating meat is one to be championed and celebrated, preferably over a hot grill with a cold beer. Even though much is overlooked by the common meat-eater, a small bit of research into the beautiful process of butchery can get that meat-eater all the more closer to his meat, which is the natural conclusion to any love affair. And through a newfound appreciation for the forgotten art of butchering, both meat-eaters and vegetarians can find some common ground that at least art is good for art’s sake.
“Facing the FAQs.” The Doctor Oz Show. Doctoroz.com, 11 Aug. 2009. Web. 2 March 2015.
Slaughter, Dinny. “Killing and Butchering a Cow.” Mother Earth News. Ogden Publications Inc., 1979. Web. 2 March 2015.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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