This is interesting on several levels. I find it interesting that nobody seems to approve of this. Meat producers are concerned that it will be off-putting; animal rights activists think it is too sanitized.
I think both stances are wrong. Neither side wants the truth; neither side wants an honest, unvarnished, unsensationalized view of the process from animal to entree. The meat producers want no coverage at all – it is obviously in their best interest if consumers are able to completely avoid thinking of dinner as having ever been a sweet little lamb or soulful little calf. They would prefer to avoid the issue entirely.
The animal rights activists are the opposite – they want the coverage sensationalized; maximize the blood and gore and the screams of the animals as they die (if they scream; I don’t personally know). They want fire and brimstone, to turn off as many consumers as possible.
Personally, I think the middle ground is the best route. I do believe that anyone who consumes should know what he or she is consuming. Consumers need to be aware of the process through which they are provided with products. We have become a nation – nay, a world, of mindless, unthinking devourers with endless and indiscriminate appetites, and we have been enabled to indulge those appetites with neither a sense of nor a concern for the consequences. We are presented with lovely, appetizing food in neatly packaged, sanitized containers, delivered right to our local grocery and purchasable with nary a thought for its origin. (Or for its nutritional value or effect on our health, but that’s a separate post.) We have been enabled, in this as in many other things, to simply refrain from any thought at all.
This is not to our benefit. Witness recent food and merchandise recalls – contaminated food, poorly manufactured products containing physically damaging substances. These things would be far less likely to occur if the general public were informed and discerning when it comes to the items we purchase. We do not research the origin of our children’s toys, or trouble ourselves to see what the constituent parts of them are or of what they are made. It was on the market, therefore it must be safe – if it weren’t safe, “they” wouldn’t be able to sell it. But we don’t even know who “they” are, or who the nebulous entities are that we think are protecting us.
So yes, I think the public needs to witness the process of meat production. Frankly, I think we should be made to, for a number of reasons.
First, and most importantly, no decision as to a lifestyle should ever be made without as many facts as you can put your mental “hands” on. If you are going to choose to eat meat – or subvarieties of meat such as veal or lamb – you should have made that decision based on the facts as to what it is and how it is produced, not on simple availability. You should weight the benefits of consuming that item against the consequences it brings to you and to the animal. If you then decide to consume it, that is your personal choice and the rest of the world can be damned, because it is not their decision nor their business. But you should do it knowingly. You cannot, or certainly should not, have a clean conscience about any action if you do it in wilful ignorance. The information is available, and you should take advantage of it.
Secondly, as stated above, uninformed choices are often detrimental to the consumer. If you know the source of your food, you are far more likely to understand the possible problems with it and be more vigilant and cautious, and therefore may be more likely to catch a problem before it adversely affects you.
Information is never a bad thing. Legitimate, sensibly-presented information is a tool of reason. Ignorance and sensationalism are the tools of debasement and the decline of civilization. Or, if you want to look at it that way, evolution in action.