When I read the first line of this enlightening Slate article, my first thought was “hey, I had that horse bologna sandwich at GoogaMooga. It was salty and GoogaMooga was lame.” I’d eaten horse before in Europe and liked it, but their culturally relaxed horse-eating culture and our highly stigmatized and pretty unhinged horse-eating culture are very different. Here are 6 reasons Americans don’t eat horse meat:
- Horse meat is considered an industrial by-product, like wet baled-up cardboard boxes or steel slag, meaning you’re not supposed to eat it.
- Horse-racing is a controversial practice for a plethora of reasons, but near the top is the unregulated pumping of racing animals with horse-sized doses of drugs — uppers, downers, steriods, antiparasitics, antibiotics, muscle relaxers, sleeping medications. You know the rule about mercury in fish? The larger the fish, the higher the concentration of mercury. Especially since, you know, the fish don’t know they’re eating chemicals.
- The racing horses that end up as food aren’t raised for food, they’re raised for racing. At the risk of sounding redundant, at no point do the people who tend to racehorses consider that the majestic beast nodding off from barbituates might end up on a plate.
- “Bute,” or phenylbutazone. This anti-inflammatory and pain medication is prescribed to just about every racing horse on the tracks today. No longer approved for human use due to its carcinogenic effects, bute isn’t supposed to be used on horses that might end up as food but there’s no longer a need for this regulation since…
- The last American horse slaughtering operation shut down five years ago…
- …but we now outsource to Canada and Mexico. That’s just long enough without so much as a flicker of an artisanal revival movement to strongly suggest that horse is not a meat we should currently be eating.
I’ve never had horse meat in the U.S. (aside from the little bit that was in that bologna), but I’ve also never been less inclined to neigh, whinny, enjoy the awkward silence and dirty looks and dig into some equestri-yums. Adventurous eating is rarely a bad thing, and it looks more and more like horse no longer falls under that category.
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