The submissive carnivore

As consumers, we’re constantly tested. Regular or large? Combo meal or a la carte? Cream or sugar?

Our options are overwhelmingly endless, and we like it that way. In a sense, it gives us some mislead sense of control. We know what we like, at least think we do, and we aren’t afraid to demand it. It’s natural to get cozy with the norm. It’s what we’re used to. It’s easy to say, “This meat is probably worth questioning, but I’m starving, and who actually has the time?”

There’s an infinite list of reasons to become a vegetarian. I am not going to list them, nor am I under the illusion that any Big Mac-loving individual would drop their greasy regular for my two cents.

The truth is that it’s beyond the calorie count. It’s even beyond the malnourished, hormone-injected, sorry excuse for cows who provided that hamburger patty. It’s about integrity.

There are many jokes about fast food and its quality — or lack thereof — but companies reap the benefits of our submission. Let’s face it, every time we order something through that tiny window of mystery, we’re paying for a blind taste test.

According to Rachel Tepper’s story for The Huffington Post, Burger King recently admitted to possibly incorporating horse meat into its burgers distributed in the U.K. and Ireland.

“This is just the latest chapter in an ongoing scandal in the U.K. and Ireland involving beef burger patties tainted with meat from horses and pigs,” Tepper said. “U.K. supermarket chain Tesco and other companies have also been affected. It’s suspected that a meat distributor in Poland, which worked with all the companies in question, used meats other than beef as cheap filler in burgers.”

The real scandal is not that consumers were eating horsemeat, but rather continuous affirmation from the public that this is acceptable. Fast food and chain restaurant food is notoriously awful, so what’s a little horse?

Where is the cutoff? Where is this imaginary list of ingredients acceptable to lie about? We’re nodding a zombie-like “yes” to false advertising and admittedly subpar quality food at best.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a lot to be said about eating locally.

Benefits range from naturally grown organic ingredients to supporting small businesses. Phoenix and surrounding cities provides a plethora of these legitimate restaurants that buy from farms or even grow and raise their own produce and meat.

We should and do have the right to eat a cheeseburger without playing a guessing game of what’s in it.

Unless the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy applies to your diet. After all, as Tepper explained, horse meat does not pose a health risk to consumers.

 

Reach the columnist at inovak@asu.edu or follow her at @IsabelleNovak

 

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