It's time once again to check in with all those fun folks out there who are selling and eating meat. Yes, like a cleaver striking home in a fat-laden pork roast, the meat industry and its customers are always on the cutting-edge of science, lifestyle and ethical behavior. We meager vegetarians can learn a lot! Here's the latest news…
Weenie Wars in the Midwest— Claiming the record for the "world's longest hot dog," the Vienna Beef Company unveiled a 37-foot, 2-inch weenie at the Taste of Chicago festival to celebrate the start of "National Hot Dog Month." The giant frank (gosh, I'm glad my name isn't Frank) was topped with, among other things, a gallon of mustard, a gallon of "bright green" relish, and 4 pounds of chopped onion.
Not to be outdone, a mere 2 days later the fine folks in Campbellsport, Wisconsin (a town 50 miles north of Milwaukee, where apparently they have nothing better to do) grilled a 48-foot-long bratwurst. This fine collection of ground snouts and ears (remember, they don't call it "wurst" for nothing) was paraded through town on a flatbed semi-trailer with police escort and a high school marching band (how sanitary!) before being eaten by townspeople in 160 portions. According to the Associated Press, it was topped with 400 ounces of ketchup and mustard, four gallons of relish (color not specified) and "more than a pound" of onions.
While the drama of a "who's got the biggest sausage" competition between the mighty city of Chicago and a small town to the north is certainly compelling, one has to agree that the burning social question that emerges from these stories is why are the people of Campbellsport so chintzy with their onions? (A measly 1/10th of an ounce per serving!) Are they more concerned than Chicagoans about their breath, or was it just that they didn't have any more onions in town?
The "McToad" Salad— Here at On of Off the Mark headquarters we're always excited to find new salad bar items. The latest comes from Dorinda McCann of Hanson, Massachusetts, who found a live, two-inch-long toad in a takeout salad bought at her local McDonald's restaurant. Evidently Ms. McCann didn't fully appreciate the extra protein and exotic new taste the McToad salad offered. "I was sick," she told local reporters. "What if I had salmonella poisoning?"
These stories about toads, worms, human fingers, etc. in the food seem to come out of the fast-food restaurants all the time. The kids with minimum-wage summer jobs at these places must have a good sense of humor. And of course we vegetarians find it all rather droll. After all, is there really that much difference between these things and the "food" these restaurants intentionally sell (yeah, lots of those snouts and ears, not to mention dead chickens that are almost always laced with salmonella)? All we can say is, don't take yourself so seriously, Ms. McCann! Go with the flow! If you're going to be a carnivore, dang-it, be a carnivore, and enjoy the variety the meat-eating world has to offer! You wouldn't want your cat calling you a wimp, would you?
Civilized Behavior Abounds— According to a recent study done by UC Berkeley anthropology Professor Katharine Milton, the addition of meat into our early ancestors' diet was a crucial catalyst for human development and evolution. I know this theory must be true, because everywhere one looks in our society today meat-eating is inspiring human civilization to new heights. Just take the average TV commercial for a "meat-lovers supreme" pizza, for example (racially-diverse group of young men eat giant pizza topped with 12 pounds of ground beef in messy apartment, while good-naturedly competing against one another in video games). You know they're appealing to advanced thinkers. And one need only watch the Tribal Council's maggot-eating contest on reality television's Survivor 17: New Jersey to realize we've advanced the arts just about as far as they will go.
If you need more proof, consider these fine examples from the recent past:
- Nationally-renowned barbecue champion Paul Kirk had his van and an attached $18,000 custom-made grill (!) stolen in Roeland Park, Missouri. Also gone were several chickens, a half-dozen slabs of ribs and a dozen pounds of brisket. The van and grill were recovered three days later, but there was no sign of the meat. The national media reported that the thief was "no vegetarian."
- A worker at a meatpacking plant in Kansas City, Kansas killed five fellow employees and wounded two others before committing suicide.
- Research at the University of North Carolina showed that more than three-quarters of "red snapper" samples from eight states turned out to be different, cheaper species of fish. Not only did this cheat consumers by several dollars per pound, but the researchers noted that product mislabeling distorts the status of fish stocks, contributing to a false impression that they are keeping up with demand. Seafood industry executives called the study "overblown."
- Two concrete pig statues were stolen from Mary and Bobby Romine of Gallatin, Tennessee. A ransom note signed "the big bad wolf" was left at the site of the abduction. A day later, the Romines received a fried pork chop and a second note that read, "Cooked the pig."
- The summer fad among young people at one sandbar location in the Florida Keys was to skewer themselves with meat hooks and dangle from a bamboo tripod. While Coast Guard officials were initially concerned, they found that the practitioners were already heavily pierced and tattooed, and were simply enjoying the afternoon. "It looked like a daily routine for them," a Coast Guard spokesperson said.
Yup, whether we're eating the stuff, or simply trying to "hang" with it, meat really brings out the best in all of us!