In a provocatively titled post called “Screw Ethics, Good Barbeque is More Important”, the Dallas Observer food blog “City of Ate” made an interesting case.
“Yesterday’s Blues, Bandits & BBQ competition in Oak Cliff was a success on every score but flavor,” the post reads.
“Organizers estimate more than 1,000 people turned out to celebrate tunes and barbecue at the grassroots festival, which may have been the first in the nation to require its pit teams to use sustainable, grass-fed meats.” And the results were not good. The blog reported that noted judge and BBQ expert Daniel Vaughn tweeted afterwards:
“After dozens of samples of BBQ made from sustainably raised, grass-fed beef and pork, I must make the broad generalization that it sucks.”
City of Ate investigated, and Vaughn’s fellow judges shared his contempt. Vaughn told the blog:
“The grass-fed beef and pork had so little fat that every bite was tougher and chewier than the last, and wasn’t to the least bit enjoyable,” Vaughn writes. “This form of sustainable meat just isn’t conducive to good BBQ.”
So is producing good barbeque unethical, or is robbing humans of the pleasure of good barbeque in the interest of being more humane to pigs and cattle a case of misplaced ethical priorities? There is even an argument that half-measures like grass-fed stock are ethically corrupt ways to rationalize eating meat. If you don’t have the ethical commitment to be a vegetarian, be bold about it. On the other hand, creating lousy BBQ is a good step toward eliminating it entirely. Once eating meat is less tasty than a garden salad with no-fat dressing, one might as well eat virtuously.
Something to think about while you’re eating your ribs.