Horsemeat and species preservation

The very idea of horse-meat getting into our hamburgers seems appalling. The very thought that the majestic steeds whose strength and personalities can companion and transport us, and has done so off and on over millennia, could end up in between sesame buns and covered with cheese and tomato, accompanied by french fried potatoes and a soda, is a no-no.

Yet in the longer ups and downs of civilization, in the scarce times, people tend to put their few remaining resources into that which supports human survival the best. Other species tend to go extinct. In fact, even in present-day good times, lots of species are going extinct each week simply because we are taking over their living space and we couldn't care less about those diverse creatures' existence, not even giving them a hello-goodby as they perish; we are to busy to pay attention to where our boots stomp. But horses, now, they have been special.

The subject article confronts us with this reality a bit. Apparently in Romania, the noble steed which can transport us through thick and thin, snow or desert, and find its own fuel in the grassland if necessary, at times has become needed food with which to survive.

Compare with the traditional steer or cow, which we feed until big enough to eat. Both cow and horse and even farm pig will look you in the eye and greet you as fellow beings on this planet now. Each of them is dependent on our support for them to live. And when we have messed up in our endless games of Whose-Boss-Here, resources get thin, and which creatures will be supported by people becomes one of the questions. Cows and steers provide us with milk and steak and hamburgers, and we give grain and feed to support them. Horses, on the other hand, could also provide hamburger meat - although not milk - yet before being part of a burger, a horse could provide us transportation and pull a plow; they have done so off and on for millennia.

Now a one-horsepower transportation may not seem much, as compared to our hundred horsepower steel and glass wheels that take us to work and the shopping center. But for a few tens of miles at a time, the one-horsepower horse can give us a lift almost as fast and vastly more energy efficiently. The hay-burner goes without any visit to the gas station, but has other quirks - hay is big and heavy, for one. Could one's car pull a plow to cultivate a field to grow food in a pinch? Maybe, especially if gas remained available and affordable. But a horse has done that for ages and can be powered by some of the agriculture which it helps plant and harvest.

And as Romania has shown, horses can also provide meat for lasagna and burgers, when work-time is done. Can a steer do that? Only the burger part. So, which is more versatile yet also provides us nourishment both in helping harvest but also as steak? The noble steed would logically be the choice.

Now, I have no interest in a horse-meat burger, any more than a kangaroo burger, such as was sold some decades ago, before an uproar against using the cute critters for burger makings put a stop to it.

The point am trying to - uncomfortably - make here, is that in the longer view of history, the species we find valuable enough to provide us food, are the creatures that we invest meager resources in preserving when the chips are down in the cycles of civilization.

I have sometimes wondered, does a bovine consider its life worth living, especially if in a feedlot existence, simply to end up as meat between halves of a sesame bun?

After much pondering, and also knowing that I cannot really speak from the perspective of such a creature, I would say that the answer is probably yes. Because, it is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all.

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