Mind the GAP: Lessons From the Stun Line
Posted on August 20th, 2012
I’ve written about my visit to Kansas a lot, both here and on Rachael Ray.com. I probably will write more about it. The reason is that I was moved by meeting the steers I have enjoyed eating for so long, and seeing them slaughtered and “processed,” i.e. cut up into pieces, at the Creekstone plant. Maybe it was the fact that, immediately concluding the tour, I was taken to the boardroom and fed all the steak I can eat. And all the steak I can eat is a lot.
Below, you can see the video I made of the experience. It’s long, and NSFV (not safe for vegetarians.) This is a video for hardcore meatheads, but I think that anyone who, like me, loves to eat beef ought to watch it. I eat a lot of beef, probably more than some midwestern townships. But I try to eat only beef from producers whom I know are doing the right thing by the animals. Of course, you can’t always go to the plant, the way I did. So if you want to know how the animal lived, one option is to go by the GAP system that the most conscientious retailers, like Whole Foods, employ. Basically this is a five-step program. Even a producer with a GAP rating of 1 is approximately a thousand times better than the vast, unspeakable necropolises where the agribusiness giants do their evil work. Generally it’s smaller producers that get the higher ratings – but don’t make the mistake of thinking that because an animal is local, that it lived well. Jeffrey Dahmer had neighbors, too.
I realize that all this animal welfare stuff is kind of a buzzkill. I myself would rather watch Marc Forgione make a steak than worry about how cows I have never seen will meet their end. But the longer I do Meatopia, the more I have to think about these things. I’m not going to tell you that I would lose sleep if I ate a chuck roast from Publix, instead of a GAP rated steak from Whole Foods. I could tell you that, but you wouldn’t believe me. But once you start promoting yourself as a meat guru, and putting on the biggest meat-centric culinary event in the world, you have to think about how much blood you have on your hands. After going to Creekstone, I felt good about it, the same way I feel about Bell & Evans chicken (GAP rating: 2) and American Homestead pork (GAP rating: 1). The upshot is that if beef, pork, or chicken is on the GAP 5-step system, it’s OK to eat. That’s what I saw at Creekstone, and that was my takeaway.
Now sit back and watch what that trip was like.