Chris Cosentino, a champion carnivore and chef of Incanto and Boccalone dry cured meats, alerted me to this Washington Post article  about footage secretly taken by the Humane Society at a major meat processor in Chino, CA.  We can read about the global impact in the morning paper, but this video tells the story from cow’s vantage point.  It’s graphic and appalling (view it at the humane society or at Cosentino’s site with his angry commentary).  As Chris notes, it’s the price of cheap meat.  Temple Grandin, a woman who has been instrumental in designing humane methods for slaughtering cows, told The Post it is “one of the worst animal-abuse videos I have ever viewed."  And no doubt she’s seen plenty.


37 Wonderful responses to “Carnivore Part II, from the cow’s perspective”

  • stephanie

    There’s no link to Chris’ site, so here it is:

    I can’t bring myself to watch it yet. The look on the face of that poor cow is enough to make me realize I will end up in tears if I watch it.

    And, the fact that, as Chris mentions, this company has the National School Account???

    These people should be treated as they treat their animals.

  • Maya

    Great information, I think that we’re all so desensitized to videoes that people will probably view it and forget about it in a few weeks. Seeing it in person, that would have a more lasting impression.

    ps Veggie burgers are really varied and good these days, many of my vegetarian friends get freaked out a bit at restaurants because the taste and texture is so real. It’s worth trying with all the bells and whistles. And no nasty hormones or freaky texture.

  • one swell foop

    I love meat. LOVE it. I usually go out of my way to make sure that I get high quality, humanely raised and slaughtered meat product. I’m also pretty desensitized to violence in videos, but this makes me want to puke.
    I’ve always ridiculed vegetarians who are veggies for animal rights reasons, but when you look at our food production and distribution systems you come to realize that it’s difficult not to support people that process our food like this.

  • Vinotas

    Sadly, most people don’t really care or don’t want to care about where their meat (and by extension all their food) comes from. They certainly don’t want to think about how it’s treated before it becomes a McPatty for $1 or so.

    Now, I am an avowed omnivore, I’ll eat almost anything at least once, but I am also for humane treatment of animals that are in our food chain. There’s no reason for them to be treated like they were in the video.

    I realize not everyone has the wherewithal to eat meat that’s more expensive, but I’m pretty sure if they knew the barbaric treatment these animals received they might pay a bit more for humanely slaughtered food, or choose something else.

    I’ve always been unapologetic about being at the top of the food chain, but this does make me slightly ashamed.

  • Bruce

    That’s just FU’d and cruel, not to mention putting peoples lives at stake to make a penny more a share. The executives and overseers that run these places only care about themselves and probably have some sick perverse ego. I’m surprise they are also feeding these down cattle to the other cattle (Mad Cow) for the sake of their pockets. Respect has gone by the wayside for people and the animals we are privileged to consume.

  • Shelley

    How bizarre. This afternoon I was shut in a conference room with eight colleagues, reviewing our website design. “Let’s compare it to the structure of CNN’s site,” says the boss, who proceeds to go there and project it on the wall. He doesn’t notice that the rest of us haven’t heard a word he said after that because right there is a four-foot tall story about this horrifying video. I hope all the news circuits pick up this story to enrage enough people like me to find out how to stop this shit.

    How DO we stop this? Writing to my congresswoman seems SO lame…

  • faustianbargain

    there is nothing new here. the washington post’s 2001 article, ‘they die piece by piece’ >

    the humane slaughter act of 1958 is routinely ignored. any violation of the humane slaughter act …which is a federal law …carries no penalty. it also doesnt include poultry, rabbits or fish. halal and kosher slaughter is exempt from the humane slaughter act. what the fuck? the definition of humaneness seems to shift colours like a chameleon. if there is any other federal act that is more impotent than this one, i’d like to know.

    re cosentino’s must be noted that temple grandin consults the slaughter houses that supply McDonald’s meat…so $1 burger might as well be more humane than what your kid eats at school.

  • Victoria

    I can’t bring myself to watch this. I don’t need to see it to know about the cruelty in this industry and feel that it has to stop. I can’t remember who wrote the article in the NYTimes a few years ago where a calf was followed from birth to slaughter. That’s when I realized most meat production was a total mess and that’s when I started sourcing humanely raised meat. WE CAN CHANGE THIS. Consumers rule.

  • Big Red

    This video can be taken two ways. Brutus is right, lest the poor starve, save the animals. (That brings to light a WHOLE host of politico issues that I dare not tread to) But the persepctive of Temple Grandin is one I stand behind. There is really no need for this kind of cruelty, and blame it on demand all they want but simple changes are not going to change the bottom line. We need to each do our part, and show disapproval, whether that be cutting back on our meat consuption and/or only buying from certain sources. Monetarily a 2% reduction in total revenue would be enough to make the producers pull their head out of their asses if only temporarily. But, and this is just a random thought, what if the slaughter house people are truly sadistic people, and we take away their emotional outlet and they begin slaughtering people? Eeeeek. Sorry, I watched an episode of Dexter last night…

  • Gabrielle

    I’ve been emailed the link to the video, and it’s cropping up all over the Interweb, but I can’t click on ‘play’. I’m just so thankful that I gave up meat a year and a half ago. It was the right decision for me, and I hope a lot of other people wake up and think about where their food comes from.

    Mark Bittman also wrote a great piece in Sunday’s NYT, if you haven’t read it or blogged about it yet (hmmmmm, have you, and maybe I missed it?):

  • Gabrielle

    Oops, sorry, I see the previous post mentioning Bittman’s piece. What can I say, I’m behind in my blog reading. 🙂

    And, just because I’m a vegetarian/wannabe vegan doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what’s going on at Harris Ranch, because I think if people are going to raise cattle for food, that’s how it should be done. Either that, or maybe like the Masai. But we can’t have our own herds, now can we?

  • Darcie

    Growing up on a cattle farm, where I got to ride the few dairy cows that we had while they were being milked, I could never imagine a cow being treated like this. The video brought tears to my eyes and made me sick, mad, and then madder the more I thought about it. We would never have treated an animal like this. If a cow ever got that sick (which I cannot recall happening), it would have been humanely executed and buried out in the back pasture (there was a fenced-off area where we would put any cows that died).

    To Sir Brutus – it would be a lot more efficient to feed starving kids the grains that were grown to feed these cows. Then no one has to suffer – more people could be fed an no animals would have to suffer. There is absolutely no fucking excuse for this appalling behavior.

    This is why, although I really, really want to make veal stock, I don’t want to go to Walmart to buy the veal, even though it’s the only game in town. Luckily I have a local butcher who I can trust for the rest of my meat.

  • dave_c

    The treatment of the cattle is atrocious.
    What gets me is that the company was using sick cattle. Why were the cows sick?

    The attitude, “Best to let the poor starve, lest another cow get hurt.” really doesn’t apply. Also, kind of melodramatic. “Oh, the poor are starving because they can’t get cheap beef.” Come one, now. Do you really care about the poor? or are you taking a jab at “liberal tree huggers”?

    The issue is not cheap meat. It’s about potential food safety issues.

  • Kay

    Managing large animals can require a firm hand at times, but kicking them in the face and running into them with forklifts is pretty hard to justify, especially if they’re too sick to move because of something you did to them in the first place. I can’t even imagine they’re doing this to save money; a bullet would be cheaper than the time and energy these idiots are devoting to getting back at their doubtlessly abusive and/or neglectful parents by proxy.

    I never ate the meat they served us in school–not out of political protest, it was just rubbery and disgusting–and I know I wasn’t alone. Just because you’re poor doesn’t mean your taste buds don’t work. I’d say a good portion of what these animals suffer for ends up being flung across the room or pitched straight into the garbage can.

  • Phil

    Maybe I’m brainwashed, but when I see a crippled cow the first thing that comes to mind is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease).

    That looks like a downer cow to start with, and putting extra stress on it and driving adrenaline through its body is just wrong all the way around.

    Grass or organic grain-fed beef anyone?

  • Charlotte

    This has been a big story up here in cattle country Montana — on all the local news stations and the state health inspector has called for all schools and hospitals to throw out any meat from this company. Raising cattle for meat is big business up here, but the outrage at both the treatment of these animals and the way the company has potentially allowed bovine spongiform and other diseases into the food supply has caused general outrage.

  • Lydia

    I just wrote the same comment on Cosentino’s blog, but I’ve been upset about this since I heard about it. This dumbass I used to work with told me he’d bought an entire cow from a friend. I thought that was cool until he said he just wanted the steaks and whatnot. Then he told me how his friend had killed the cow- beheaded it with a chainsaw, because he didn’t want to waste a bullet. So angry and sickened I can’t even express myself properly.

  • Danny

    Brutus, do you honestly think that the giant industrial producers of meat are trying to keep beef costs low (resulting in the inhumane treatment of cows) in order to FEED THE POOR? Lower costs, higher profitability, Wall Street happy, end of story. The people who run these companies or otherwise have a financial stake in them couldn’t care less if you starve.

  • Samuel Fromartz

    There’s an assumption on a few comments that low cost=inhumane. Stupidity, badly designed systems, badly trained people, and f**king idiots lead to inhumane treatment. You can have a competitive AND humane system, which is what Temple Grandlin is helping to create in a measurable way. I’ve heard her talk, looked at her statistics on downer cows, prodding, cow distress (mooing). All of it improves. Why? Because she designs a better and verifiable system. It can be done, but I have no faith that the USDA will be a leader here. Right now, they are in the way.

  • Chris Mushall

    Ok this was disturbing if not outright wrong on a multitude of levels. However instead of just making a few thousand people aware of this and offering personal opinions and questionable facts, we must ask… what is being done to stop this grotesque abomination of the USDA lunch programs. The bigger question is…what do we know about the big suppliers like Cargill and Tyson?

    We need to start asking questions and educating others and ourselves. I embrace sustainable agriculture and aquaculture. The better you know the source of your product the less likely occurrences such as these will occur.

    Hopefully this does not become a tirade for neo-fascist “food police” to stand on a pedestal and rant about why eating greens and grains and vitamin supplements is the best option. Fodder for the masses: Being on the top of food chain means I can enjoy marinated rump steak and French fries as I wish, just know your supplier.

  • Wilmita

    I could NEVER understand why vegetarians, vegans etc. would want burgers, hot dogs, or any other meat impersonators.

    Meat is not what want to you eat.

    Vegetables,(which I eat at every meal), do not resemble or taste anything like meat: ergo eat only vegetables or starch.

    I should not EVER imagine trying to create a Porterhouse Steak to resemble a head of cabbage or broccoli in an effort to get vegetarians to eat it.

    I do not suffer Vegan-Jellice-ists lightly.

    I say live and let live. To each his own, etc.

    Go gently into that good night and/or post some exquisite vegan recipes.


  • Joel

    I’m not sure it is the price of cheap meat because no matter what Hallmark had to pay for the substandard beef they purchased, I bet they weren’t selling it at a discount to our schools.

    It sounded to me like the major qualification they were going for was that the animals must walk in the slaughter house under their own power, and this was the objective of the mistreatment.

    Once it walks through the door, all they had to to was hook it up to a chain, and it looks just as good as any other slab o beef.

  • Trent Hendricks

    I spent several years driving & dispatching tractor trailers hauling cattle, sheep & hogs all over the USA and Canada; I also worked in a large cattle slaughter house for a year scheduling and overseeing deliveries. While the video is unpleasant to view, sometimes life doesn’t always work out the way it’s planned. Sometimes the options available and the policies in place make doing the right thing all but impossible. Accidents do happen and cows do go down. Sometimes they can get up, but don’t want to. A little tickle of electric can change their mind. Current regulations stipulate that cows cannot be dragged or lifted until they are killed, and if they are not killed in a proper manner then their carcass goes to waste. Everybody loses, just the cow loses more. If the cow goes down on the truck, the driver of the truck may have to pay for the entire cow, which means he just worked for free. They have no interest in abusing any cattle if for no other reason then that their wages depend on the cattle arriving in good condition. Slaughter houses need the cattle to walk off the truck and into the kill floor to make money on them. Does it really matter who eats this product? Does one class of society deserve a better quality than another, or does it go to a tax funded government program simply because it’s the cheapest red meat out there?

    Let’s stop demonizing the visible problem and look further upstream. Other than the accident scenario, why was the cow allowed to deteriorate to the condition it was shipped in? Because of a cheap food policy and the desire to get a few more cwt of milk out of the poor beast so that the high price of cattle, land, feed and operating money can be recouped? Greed? Whose greed, the farmers, or the people who clamor for a cheap food policy and the politicians who placate them? Until we as consumers demand and pay for high quality food and support/vote with our money & time, local sustainable agriculture; cheap foods must be produced as economically as possible. This includes feed yards, mega dairies, slaughterhouses that process 10,000 head of cattle or hogs daily, and terminals and trucks to disperse the products nationwide.

    When we look for the culprit, maybe we should look in the mirror. Or maybe not. I expect the readers of this blog are more virtuous then the average consumer, but we can all do better. My farm is certified humane, all natural, sustainable and meets all regulations that we know of. We sell directly to the consumer and feed 100’s of families. It can be done. Only we can fix the problems we allowed to exist. Bemoaning the industry and its inherent problems, while perpetuating the trends that fathered the industry, is like a dog returning to its vomit.

    Since the problems were not created overnight, I suspect the solution will take time also. Still, change begins with us.

  • Maya

    Trent, I think that was well said and I agree that consumers must know what they’re buying. Just look at the global warming scenario – that’s the fault of everyone on the planet, with very few exceptions.

    However, we in the animal business must remember the same thing that doctors do – the concept that those in the know have a higher level of responsiblity than the general public because we have had years of training that most people have not.

    The burden of treating an animal humanely falls on those working directly with the animal – not the public who are just trying to grab dinner and go home.

    Yes the public should support humane practices, but it’s not widespread enough yet that it is easy for people to find. It’s the people in the meat and restaurant industry who control the prices, practices and how the animal is treated. It’s up to them to make the right choice.

    Congrats for being certified humane – obviously you made the right choice. 😉

  • Tags

    One reason I like Michele Simon’s “Appetite for Profit” is because she gives a great explanation for corporate behavior.

    A corporation is made up of people, but it is a completely different organism. Its sole purpose is to make a profit, and it has no morality outside of this one rule. In order to effect favorable policy, its lobbyists make contributions to candidates who support non-binding “voluntary” laws and regulations.

    The myth of government intervention being unnecessary when the industry can “regulate itself” is a result of the foxes buying the henhouse.

    The only way to effect meaningful change is to challenge these well-heeled hooligans and call them out and expose their obfuscation and misdirection.

  • Flaime

    This is an effect of the comoditization of food. When food becomes a comodity, it is only valuable to people for it’s low price.

    The aftereffects of Nixon and Republican party farm policy.

  • Techie

    Throw the book at them. My grandfather was a rancher and he would never treat any of his animals like this.

  • Techie

    Wait, what is food if not a commodity, the most basic of commodities? Does one not buy and sell food?

  • Eilish

    I live in Chino. My husband has a dairy support business; Chino has always had a strong dairy community. I think most of our community has had a similar horrified reaction to this news. Most of the dairymen around here treat their animals well.

    I have heard some wisdom from older dairymen that makes sense to me. When you separate animal husbandry from animal slaughter these things happen more easily. If you have raised and cared for an animal, you have more respect for it and it is more likely to be treated well in life and in slaughter. I don’t know how we can change this system to reflect that wisdom. It would be nice if we could.

  • Megan

    Ruhlman – Thanks for the link. This is absolutely horrendous and heinous (yes, they probably mean the same thing, but I don’t care). No animal should ever be treated this way. And yet, because we’ve moved from small family farms to a factory farming system, this is bound to become the norm as the USDA looks the other way.
    My mom used to work in a rural school district, and one of the families offered us a chance to purchase a side of beef. We knew that the cattle was humanely treated, allowed to roam in pasture (except when it was milked, if it was a dairy cow), humanely killed, and most of the cow was used. The family has a proud farming tradition, going back 100 years in the area. I avoid buying my meat in the major grocery chains, perferring to go to either a farmers’ market or to Whole Foods. It’s more expensive, but at least it tastes like chicken or beef.