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March 31, 2013

Meat is meat.



Why are people so freaked out about eating horse meat? Slate wrote a piece about this a couple of weeks ago, and it got me thinking about why,  as a society, we have no problem slaughtering pigs, cows, deer, whatever, but somehow eating horse meat is repulsive and cruel. Why the meat discrimination? Other countries don’t have this objection (think France), and horse meat is healthier and leaner than most. Why not ship them to slaughterhouses just like all the other large animals? There’s a system in place, and there’s a need (think empty food shelves and urban liberal ‘localvores’).

As a journalist, I thought there's a story here, especially if I could find horse people out there who felt similarly. Apparently Oklahoma just passed a law allowing horse slaughter but in Minnesota it's long been illegal (they tried to pass a law allowing it in 2009). I reached out to a few of local breeders in Minnesota. All were surprisingly open to the idea but only one allowed me to come visit in person, a couple near New Prague who’ve been breeding and selling ‘Western pleasure' horses for years.

Arthur and I visited them a few weeks ago (Arthur came cause horses are fun!). By request they've asked to remain anonymous but were fine with me taking some photos and talking about this arrangement we've made.  First of all, I should tell you they have a freezer full of horse meat from a fallen stud last year they butchered on their own. Eating horse meat is illegal but apparently the DNR looks the other way if you own, butcher and consume the thing on your own property.

So after chatting I agreed to buy one of their horses (I bought a horse!), an older thoroughbred named Apollo. We didn't actually buy all of him, just 50-lbs. And of course not until he dies! Here he is with Arthur, who was definitely a little sad about the idea of eating Apollo.







As you might be able to tell Apollo has Ratititis, a skin disease common in horses. And four days ago I got a call from his owner: He was put down. A sad but necessary thing, I suppose.

Jessica wasn't entirely on board with the whole horse-eating thing. But she didn't say no and in my view that's a yes. Yesterday, I picked up our first batch of horse meat. They cut it into small chunks and froze it.


Jessica being a good sport.
Surprisingly there are no horse recipes in Joy of Cooking.


If you'd like to try horse, or would like to suggest a recipe, let us know! We've got plenty to share... This bit in the photo above turned into a not-so-tasty curried horse and rice. I think slow roasting the stuff is the way to go. The best (funniest) recipe I found was for horse burgers. Garlic powder, paprika, herbs, an egg and fine diced stallions.

The one kind of meat I really would have trouble eating is dog.

But I sorta feel the same way about it. I learned this from speaking with Val Thompson, the director the East Metro Humane Society, that Minnesota kills thousands of unwanted, perfectly edible dogs each year. She's long advocated for eating dog meat (if people are allowed to breed as many dogs as they want without any repercussions than they ought to be able to eat dog meat without any). So, in a not-so-subtle attempt to alarm the squeamish and raise awareness of puppy-mills, Jessica and I have made an arrangement with the East Metro Humane society to take one fresh dog a month. Here's the one we're hoping for, a mut named Peanut who maxed out his time limit at the pound.



Tell me he doesn't look delicious? Please, when you're dog get's older, or you'd just like a new one, let us know. I can take him off your hands when your kids are at school.

Dinner.
APRIL FOOLS!

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