The image above in my opinion is a good representation of the ambiguity and carelessness that surrounds the meat industry in the US. Both the facelessness of the person and the ambiguity of the meat to me represents the carelessness in how we ingest meat, without knowing or understanding the treatment of the animal. As well as noting how widespread this willful ignorance is in regards to the food that we eat in the US. I feel like the image could also be interpreted differently, noting how the human figure and the meat are an equal size denoting an equality that isn’t being respected. One image is not larger than the other symbolizing an equality that is not being upheld.
Gendering food is a large phenomenon in our culture. We commonly associate men with meat and women with salads directly correlating men with strength or vitality and women with the earth. Another gendered food is alcohol, men are socially allowed to drink casually or even to excess without a second thought. Women on the other hand, are judged and even blamed when they have alcohol in their system. We shake off the men who make rude comments or are disruptive while drinking but women are not afforded the same courtesy. How many times have you seen a drunk bachelorette party or sorority girls at the bar and complained about how annoying they were or how disruptive they were? Not even taking into account the amount of women who are victimized while drunk and then later blamed due to their intoxication or “bad choices”. Another gendered food is dessert or sweets. Women being classified as feminine and soft are more often associated with dessert products. Think about it a man can call his wife “sweetie pie” or “honey bun” but culturally that language of affection changes we see women reply and call their husbands names like “teddy bear” that still denote affection yet have a more masculine background. We see in the article “Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity” by Zoe Eisenberg how this social construct is damaging to mental and self image as well as physically unhealthy for the body. Not only is the meat industry uncouth and unsettling in its practices but it is damaging the health of the general population to make the easy and cheap decisions. One thing not mentioned in this article is the easy accessibility to meat by most of the population through fast food chains and other businesses. We live in a culture where food is expensive and the foods needed to supplement vitamins like iron are typically more expensive than buying the meat itself. When money is tight it is hard to compare the convenience of a dollar menu burger with the alternatives.
When looking at the writings of Gaard and Curtin we see a call to action and an urge for balance in the way we treat animals. Curtin speaks to the oppression of animals and how some are tortured and then slaughtered for food while others like dogs and cats are held as pets. Curtin points out how in both scenarios we are depriving animals of their own freedoms and using them for our own needs whether they be for affection or food. Gaard breaks down the ethics of killing animals for food and brings up how contextually there are reasons to kill an animal. Gaard points out that if it is a matter of life or starvation to feed you and your family, it is understandable to use animals for necessary sustenance. The problem is that in this society there is little need to go out and butcher an animal when there are a plethora of options to choose from. The issue I find with this idea is again accessibility. I have personally gone through points in my life where I only had a few dollars to feed myself and I knew I was much better off at a dollar menu than in a market trying to find alternative meat options. Not only are the alternative meat options expensive but they really aren’t conducive to most of the budgets near or below the poverty line. Food deserts are a problem as well in this country that ought to be a part of this conversation. An article from Verywellhealth.com points out how widespread this issue is saying that “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food deserts are a serious environmental health issue. More than 13.5 million people in the United States live in one.” Where some residential areas have farmers markets and community gardens, other and more impoverished areas have corner stores and gas stations where they purchase food and other necessities. While the relationship between humans and animals is oppressive and there are huge changes that need to happen within these industries it is important to recognize how these industries were systematically put in place to take advantage of the lower income communities and have been left as many peoples only option.