Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Is it time for a national meat boycott?

Nine maggots on a sirloin steak. Now imagine nine million
Corona Viruses on the same piece of meat. (It may be in
your refrigerator.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no vegan. I’m not even a vegetarian. I’m a carnivore to the depths of my soul. In my gastronomic firmament, nothing is likelier to get my juices flowing than a two-inches-thick sirloin steak, barbecued on an outdoor grill, flavored by the smoke from its own fat, crisply charred on the outside, pink and almost bloody on the inside, sizzling on my dinner plate.

All the same, I’ve been thinking of giving up meat. Not forever. Just until the COVID-19 epidemic no longer exists except in the history books.

I don’t think meat is safe to eat any more. Not beef. Not veal. Not lamb. Not pork. Not chicken. 

Certainly not in this country. And perhaps nowhere in the world. If you’ve somehow missed the story you can get some help catching up here. And here. And here. And here.

Infestation coverups and
uncovered faces

Meat packing plants are infested with the COVID-19 virus. Keeping meat refrigerated — necessary to avoid spoilage — also helps to preserve the virus until it gets into your supermarket, your kitchen, your refrigerator, your dinner. 

Massive outbreaks of this plague in meat packing plants all around the USA are getting covered up. Workers who don’t feel safe in those places, or who have already tested positive, get handed stark choices: Come into the plant and work until you die of the virus or fall so sick you need to be hospitalized. Or stay home and starve with your family, because if you’re told to come to work and don’t, we’ll cut off your unemployment income and you’ll have no money for food and rent.

And so meat comes to us — handled, breathed on, perhaps sneezed and coughed on, poked, prodded, sliced, sawed and wrapped by infected workers feverishly fearful of skipping work. In at least one case, a meat plant worker wasn’t even permitted to wear a surgical mask, according to the Bloomberg article cited above, because “it was creating unnecessary fears among plant employees.” 

In other words, it didn't look good. So eighty-six the mask even if it keeps disease from spreading  —  and start breathing droplets of virus on somebody's hamburger. We've got a meat business to run here!

Those dripping meat wrappers
may be dripping with viruses

But doesn’t cooking your meat kill the viruses? Maybe. I’m not a scientist. I don’t know. I do know that when you take meat home raw, it comes in bloody or watery packages, dripping with juices from the infested meat. Open the packages and you’ve potentially got viruses on your hands, on your kitchen counters, on your utensils, on your own cutting board, on your mixing bowl, on your floor, on and on.

But don’t we need protein? Yes, we do. And we can get it from eggs, milk, cheese, lentils, peas, tofu, edmame, chickpeas, and beans.

Will any of those provide the satisfaction of a slab of rare sizzling meat on the plate? Hell no. But think about it. Would you rather live on eggs and beans, or die gasping for air over a platter of virus-infested meat?

Maybe it’s time America let the meat packers of this country know that unless and until they can make their plants one hundred percent safe, and test their workers daily, and reveal the results of the tests, and send sick workers home to recover, they can also take their meat and shove it.


Anonymous said...

Boycotting on behalf of the workers conditions makes sense. I would support that for sure.

But the stuff about contagion through eating meat products is disputed by scientists, who would be yelling their heads off, if the case were otherwise. There's a fair amount of information out there on this.

The New York Crank said...

I haven't seen scientists dispute — or for that matter mention — the dangers of COVID19 in meat. Nor have they said it's safe. Perhaps because they've got their hands full dealing just with person-to-person contagion, the search for a vaccine, therapies, incoming flak from the President and his cronies, and so on.

There is, however, plenty of information that meats contain other dangerous viruses. For example:


And many more on the Internet.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Bill said...

In Nebraska our billionaire (R) governor has ordered that covid data from meat packing plants CANNOT be reported or collected. Some crapola about "privacy." How can statistical data with just numbers violate privacy?