Livestock Lost – Part I (Slaughterhouses and the Culture of Meat)

livestocklostindexThe Livestock Lost series examines the farming and business of meat, dairy and egg production. It will explore the known and unknown dangers of meat production and what people can do to source alternatives to what many would refer to as a cultural staple of the North American diet.

Part I – Slaughterhouses and the Culture of Meat

On this Part I of the series we hear from Toronto author Susan Bourette. After going undercover at the Maple Leaf Foods slaughterhouse and processing plant in Brandon, Manitoba, Susan became deeply disturbed at the state in which meat, animals and workers are degraded in this industry. The experience led her to embark on a journey to learn if meat still holds any cultural significance in North America, or if it has simply become an industrial commodity. She titled the product of her journey “Carnivore Chic”, because as Susan discovered, meat eating does continue to be a cultural experience in some areas of the continent while in others, meat is once again becoming “cool”.

Whether it be food safety, animal welfare, human health and environmental concerns, Canadians are no doubt being presented with every reason to rethink where our meat is coming from. There’s just one problem: The availability of meat that one may feel safer purchasing (meat that is healthier, that is more humanely produced and has less of an environmental impact) is not so easy to source. This is especially the case in British Columbia.

In May of 2006, Deconstructing Dinner was the first media outlet to cover the controversial new meat inspection regulations. The topic was revisited in 2007 and will be covered once again as a part of the Livestock Lost series. Prior to October 2007, it was legal for a British Columbian to show up at a farm and purchase meat from a farmer. That choice is no longer afforded to anyone because all meat sold in the province must now be processed at a federally or provincially licensed facility. Many areas of the province are without such a facility and as a result, farmers across the province have been closing up shop and/or considering an occupation change.

Meanwhile, the Province of British Columbia continues to promote local food!


Susan BouretteAuthorCarnivore Chic (Toronto, ON) – Susan is an award-winning writer with a reputation for investigative journalism. Formerly a reporter for The Globe and Mail, she is now a freelance writer.

Corky EvansMLA Nelson-Creston / NDP Opposition Critic for Agriculture and LandsNew Democratic Party of British Columbia (Winlaw, BC) – Corky Evans was elected as the MLA for Nelson Creston in 1991, and was re-elected in 1996. He was once again elected to represent his constituents on May 17, 2005. Corky has ten years experience as an MLA, during which time he served in many cabinet portfolios, including Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. He now serves as Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Lands.

Jenny MacLeodSecretaryDistrict ‘A’ Farmers’ Institutes (Gabriola Island, BC) – The District ‘A’ Farmers’ Institutes represents all farmers’ institutes on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Powell River.

Tony TothFormer CEOBC Food Processors Association (BCFPA) (Vancouver, BC) – The BCFPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to represent all segments of the food, beverage and nutraceutical processing industry, and to coordinate common industry activities and resources under one umbrella. The organization was asked by the province to manage the implementation of the meat inspection regulation changes announced in 2004. In August 2007, Tony Toth was interviewed by Connie Watson on the CBC’s The Current. Segments from this interview are featured

Audio Clips

“Meats With Approval” (1946) United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)