Barbeque Ethics

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.

5 thoughts on “Barbeque Ethics

  1. I’m not sure I follow this post. The idea of raising grass-fed beef cattle isn’t to be more humane to the animals. In fact, if we could ask them, I suspect they would say that they find the corn and soy feeds tastier than fescue. The goal is to save energy and food resources, because grass is a lot cheaper, more plentiful, and easier to grow than grain & bean crops, and because getting the nutrients from grains & beans into human tummies is a lot more efficient if you avoid the middlecow.

    So if this is an ethical issue, it seems to be bigger: When deciding between good food and plentiful food, where do you draw the line? Should we strive for a world in which each human is well-nourished with three bowls of tasteless slop every day? Or should millions starve in poverty so that Le Tour d’Argent in Paris can continue to titillate the palates of the wealthy with unbelievably expensive gourmet dishes? (It’s said that it is cheaper to eat money than to dine at Le Tour d’Argent.)

    I’m sure there is a line in there somewhere, but finding it takes a lot of balancing.

    • It’s a little of both. The grass-fed beef are allowed to graze, and not force fed in pens…it’s like the more ethical “free range chickens,’ who don’t have their beaks sawed off.

      Eating is an ethical dilemma within a conflict withing a gray fog. I’ve got to tackle it one of these days, but I just know I’ll end up a vegan when I do.

  2. Pingback: Barbeque Ethics « Ethics Alarms

  3. We buy two piglets each year and have them slaughtered and butchered, one for meat for the winter and the other for an annual pig roast for family and friends. The pigs are fed food and milk left over from daily meals at a local summer camp. The meat is delicious and we’re saving room at the local landfill. Is this an ethical way to eat good pork?

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