|Photo by Stewart|
I like to talk the big talk about eating nose-to-tail. It’s wasteful not to, various parts that aren’t commonly eaten are chockfull of stuff that’s good for us, it’s economical, it’s respectful to the animal, I could go on. And I actually enjoy offal – liver, kidneys, heart, you name it. But as I found out recently, there’s a catch. With offal, and most meat in general, you don’t really recognize the body part. It all just looks like “meat”. But you put a recognizable body part in front of me, and I apparently turn into a girly-girl.
Case in point. I bought a whole mackerel. Actually, I bought an entire box of frozen whole mackerels, but that’s another story. I say “whole” because the fish I usually buy already have their heads chopped off. So I was actually really excited about eating fish head. At the time of purchase, I didn’t yet register any “yuck” factor – it didn’t even cross my mind.
Well, when it was all said and done, and the fish eyeball was sitting there on my plate, staring right at me, it took a heck of a lot to get that thing in my mouth. And then I instantly spat it out. Couldn’t chew on it, couldn’t suck out the inside, I could barely look at it much less eat it.
What is it about the eyeball that makes me squeamish? I guess it’s just too recognizable. After all, I have eyeballs, too. And I’ve watched cute fish swimming around, and they looked back at me with those eyeballs. You don’t look at a cow or a fish and say, “Oh, look at its steak, it’s so big”. But you could easily point out their eyeballs. I bet if you took that eyeball, chopped it up, and fried it, or prepared it in some other way where it no longer resembled an eyeball, I’d have no problem eating it.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s easier to disassociate an animal from its meat, and to not think about the animal that the meat came from. And no, these feelings don’t mean that we should all be vegan. I think this disassociation is more of a by-product of commercialized farming. Hunters know exactly where their meat comes from, as do farmers. But when you or I walk into a grocery store, all the meat is neatly packaged, all looking very similar – we never see the animal, and most of us prefer not to dwell on how that meat got into our shopping cart.
I’ve always loved animals and respected nature. But when I was researching farms to buy beef from, and I learned more about how the cows are treated, what they eat, etc., and then later about which cuts of meat I want, I developed a deeper sense of appreciation for the beef I was buying.
I think that if you’re going to eat the meat, then you should be comfortable with where it came from, and how it got to your table. That’s really more big talk from me, because watching an animal get slaughtered would probably traumatize me. Having said that, logically, I know that there shouldn’t be a difference then between eating an eyeball and a steak – it’s all part of same animal.
I’m a work in progress. “Luckily” I have a lot more mackerel eyeballs, and thus many more chances to redeem myself.
Do you get squeamish about eating recognizable “meat”?
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