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IT'S THE PITTS -- CHOW CHOW

by: Lee Pitts

One hundred thousand South Koreans rioted (at least one was killed) and another 40,000 protesters held an all-night candlelight vigil because they don't want to eat American beef. This from a country that eats dogs on a regular basis!

Before our first mad cow South Korea was our third leading export customer for beef. Then in 2003 they placed a ban on our beef because, in their words, “they didn't want any crazy cows from the U.S.” Recently when their President announced that shipments of U.S. beef would resume his approval rating went from 50 percent to 19 percent! All because they are worried about our perceived sanitation shortcomings and mad cows. They are rioting in the streets about the safety of U.S. beef while at the same time health officials in South Korea are concerned with a rise in staph and salmonella infections that they have traced back to the dogs the South Koreans are eating. Still, the South Koreans seem to be more worried about mad cow than they are a mad Chow.

At the same time that Korean rioters were getting beat over the head Evan Ramstad had an article in the Wall Street Journal about the Koreans preference for dog meat. (Before you get the idea that instead of beef we should start exporting our Great Danes, Chihuahuas and any of the four million dogs we euthanize every year, be advised that dog farmers in South Korea are only getting 70 cents per pound.)

Although dog meat has officially been banned in Seoul since the 1988 Olympics (because they didn't want the rest of the world to know about their hunger pangs for dogs) Ramstad says there are over 530 restaurants in Seoul alone that have dog meat on their menu. They have restaurants that sell nothing but dog in specialties like dog stomach, dog sour, head dog, crispy dog and feet dog. (Toenails, skin, pads and all!) The favorite dog dish is spicy dog meat stew that is supposed to bring you good luck. (Although it's not that lucky for the dogs.) Currently the dog meat stew is selling for twice as much in South Korean restaurants than a similar stew made with beef. The South Koreans are rioting about our sanitation standards but there are no sanitation standards for the dogs because, technically, dogs are not livestock in South Korea.

There is even a doggie drink made by fermenting dog that has quite a quick to it. The dog's reproductive organ is often added to provide an extra energy boost. Ramstad wrote that doctors in South Korea often recommend dog meat to their patients and many Koreans believe that dog meat enhances ones sexual prowess. Just think men, you could throw away your Viagra and replace it with Cocker Spaniel!

When World Cup soccer came to South Korea in 2002 over 100 restaurants started a federation and launched an advertising campaign to sell dog to all the foreign visitors who came for the World Cup. It was like what our Beef Board would do in promoting beef. Can't you just imagine? “Dog! It's What's for Dinner!” The brochures claimed that “dog meat gives you an energy boost without that filled-up feeling” and 350 different recipes for dog meat were featured. The rest of the world went to South Korea for the soccer, tasted dog and emitted one collective upchuck.

Personally, I'm having a hard time getting used to all this globalization where we are all supposed to sit down at the global dinner table like one big happy family. I mean, how do you plan a menu? The Hindus won't eat beef because cows are sacred, Jews won't eat smooth skinned fish or “The Other White Meat” and the Vietnamese won't eat duck because ducks are stupid. (Who knew?) Besides dogs the South Koreans like to eat ornamental song birds and pig noses, most of the the world eats insects and a few eat horses. Instead of getting along, just like any family that gets together, I think the global family dinner would turn into one big food fight because as we are discovering in this age of globalization... one man's pet is another man's dinner.

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