We’re in my favorite holiday season of the year. This holiday really doesn’t have a name, perhaps because the beginning date of the season varies from year to year. Let’s call it ...BLT season.
Whenever the first tomato ripens, that’s the beginning of the best season of the year. When coupled with bacon, it makes for the perfect meal. Oh, yes, acronym and convention require a bit of lettuce, perhaps for the crunch. Whatever! The rabbit food is hardly important. The tomato is tangy, a warm flavor, the fleeting essence of sunshine captured by the earth, pleasure long denied by the months from frost to solstice. But the tomato meets its soul mate in crunchy, salty bacon. Taste bud perfection, summer variety.
Equaled only by a hamburger still wreathed in the smoke of an outdoor grill, or a steak dripping juices on its way indoors from its bed on the charcoal. And let’s not forget fried chicken, or turkey at Thanksgiving, or – well, you get the picture. There is nothing that will shake my devotion to meat, my voter registration in carnivore nation. Grilled. Fried. Baked. Heck, I’m even fond of steak tartar. The perfect food; the most important part of the meal; the center of the plate; the reason that I eat. I like meat.
The perfection of pork, the sublime pleasure from bacon, the wonder that is a sirloin leads me to wonder why the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is funding research into artificial meat. I’m not sure why we need meat grown in a lab, from stem cells. PETA is even offering a million dollar reward for the first commercial sale of artificial meat. One might even say that PETA is now in the business of sponsoring factory farms.
Why mess with success, why change what can’t be improved? I’m reminded of my brother, when he asked my mother about how babies are made. She told him, in the kind of clinical detail that only a farm wife can provide. He was silent for the longest time, and then said “I wish I didn’t know that.”
Well, perhaps you can raise meat in a lab, and grow steaks in a test tube (they would look like hot dogs, I guess) but why would you want to? Like my brother, I really don’t want to know that. Nope, I’m glad farmers are in the business of growing hogs, cattle, chickens, and lambs for my supper. I don’t really need to know much more about how we can replace Missouri farmers with guys in lab coats.
I’m pretty sure PETA knows the market for artificial meat would be small. They aren’t really trying to replace farmers with meat factories, or hogs with Petri dishes. I imagine that their aim is to stir the pot a bit, and make farmers’ knees jerk. This stunt doesn’t deserve our anger, but rather our scorn. And a few giggles, as well.
The scientist doing the research is a vegetarian, but swears he would eat artificial meat. After all, according to him, it would be more humane to grow meat in a lab. But what could be more human than tending animals, raising them for the meat and milk they provide? We’ve been doing it for tens of thousands of years.
Eating meat is a large part of being human, and by sponsoring this research, even PETA is now admitting that fact. This is progress. Perhaps PETA will be grilling a few steaks at their next picnic.