Wednesday 13 January 2010

Kill it, cook it, kill another one...

The BBC is the one medium through which I learnt a lot about "the Good Life", such a British concept of self-sufficiency, pretty alien to the Italy I come from and so fascinating to me. So I keep looking out for programmes about food production, sustainability etc. and over the last few days I watched the second series of Kill it, cook it, eat it.

I know, it is a pretty rubbish format, but still there is something that compels me to watch it. I think this programme is such a waste of a good opportunity. Enabling people to get in touch with real food and the food chain I would say is a good thing, and this series focussed around production of genuine v fast food.

For example, I found it much better than Jimmy's Food Factory which was so uncommittal that you were almost in no position to judge whether "supermarket food" (did they mean processed?!?) was any better for you than... what? Jimmy seemed to enjoy the ingenuity needed to make the food in his barn, but I am still not sure what was the point of the programme.

However, it seems to me the eccessive fuss made around the slaughtering process and the presenter's continuous references to the gruesomeness and any moral/ethical issues connected to it have a place only in heating up the dislike between vegetarians/vegans and "meat eaters".

I personally come from not only a meat-eating but a meat-producing family. My grandfather was a butcher. He was born at the end of the 19th century and lived in Milan. The Milanese were required to bring any meat to the public slaughterhouse, so because he wanted to slaughter the animals himself, grandad moved to the countryside. He was passionate about his job and wanted to ensure high standards of butchery. My grandmother is said to have made delicious capons by castrating chickens. Unfortunately, as they were too old when I was born, I never had the chance to watch them at work. But I would have loved to, and I am sure I would have gladly helped out. My father and auntie have always referred to meat and its production with great passion.

In the BBC3 programme, though, such a basic life-sustaining activity as meat production gets so politicized it feel so weird.

I am considering a future in smallholding, and would love to keep animals. And yes, in order to eat them you would have to kill them, and cook them. Same applies to vegetables, though. They are alive and pretty amazing things. Without them we would not exist. But would anyone ever dream to make a programme: "Harvest it, cook it, eat it"? And debate on the moral issues of chopping off plants?

That's extremes and hope nobody gets me wrong: I think respect is due where consistency is, and the same principles are applied to fish as to meat, to invertebrates as to vertebrates. It is strange to realise that you can love and kill animals, respect nature and make use of it to sustain yourself.

I have killed animals but also suffered from seeing animals (and plants) killed pointlessly - most spiders around the house for example get rescued rather than killed. And - unfortunately and unaware - a German cockroach's nymph too (as it looked so pretty, in its third mould, that I did not realise what it was).

However, it is the squeamishness of the participants that I find so out of place to be annoying. Somehow it seems to imply a lack of respect, and it must come from living in a world that is more and more virtual and less and less in contact with what surrounds us. I am sure I was much more squeamish myself before getting an allotment. Even though as a kid I used to eat fried calf brain as a kid, and still love chicken heart, and tripe.

No comments: