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Now all we need is a good vegetarian scare

On behalf of meat eaters everywhere I offer this mantra – “we will not become vegetarians,” regardless of how safe lettuce may appear.

These thoughts come on the tail of reading this week’s commentary by Denny Bannister of the Missouri Farm Bureau. Denny, also an obvious lover of meat in his diet, talks of how he will continue to eat beef despite the recent scare of “Mad Cow Disease.” The President recently announced he would continue eating beef, and now here I am throwing my hat in the ring, too. Pass the steak sauce and stand back out of my way.

While I’m no beef-ologist, or whatever a bovine expert would be called, I can certainly tell a well done steak from a rare one. I mean, I’ve been around the grill and the feed lot enough to know a little something about cattle. Let me just say I’ve walked through the barn lot enough times to know that if it’s steaming, don’t step in it.

And that seems to be the problem with this “mad cow” scare. People who know nothing about the disease are panicking instead of listening to the experts. Some average people (and national and international reporters, too) really don’t know “what it is,” so they’re stepping in it blindly and making wild claims and causing fear. In turn, the beef producers of America are tensing up for a hard hit to their wallets. Cattle prices are falling in many markets, and there’s rarely a television newscast that goes by without someone talking of the famed Washington State sick cow. The latest news Tuesday afternoon was that the government was to slaughter several hundred cattle, one of which was a descendent of the highly-publicized “infected” cow. The beef from the herd would not be used for human consumption, the television reporter said.

Now for the skinny, vain, sophisticated Hollywood acting and modeling crowd this might not be such a devastation. I mean, after all, most of them already only eat things like tofu, raw vegetables and soy products. The few who do eat fish or chicken on occasion do so in such moderation as to cause the Gorton’s seafood man and Colonel Sanders to have to seek supplemental income. The cattle ranchers will lose nothing on them.

But what of us redneck meat eaters. Where does this leave us if we believe all that we hear on the evening news reports. I mean it wasn’t so many years ago that scientist announced that eating squirrel brains could cause health problems in humans. What, you’ve never eaten squirrel brains? Well it’s not a preferred taste of mine, but I know several people who did eat them, and still do.

Then there’s the scare of CWD, or chronic wasting disease, in the deer population. Stringent testing by Missouri officials have found no cases of the devastating disease in the state as of yet, but the problem is plaguing deer herds in several states across the country. The national Center for Disease Control says there’s no known cases of CWD being transferred from an infected animal to a human. But still those of us who savor venison must keep that in the back of our mind.

What’s next, hog infections or maybe a raccoon disease. I know people who enjoy a good barbecued coon as part of their diet on occasion. My grandpa and his family used to eat possum regularly – or, that is, until they discovered one gnawing on a human carcass one day. I can proudly say we are now three generations removed from including possum in our diet.

So my question is why can’t the scientist find something wrong with eating brussel sprouts, or broccoli, or spinach? Is there no salad disease? I mean, I don’t mind a good salad, but only as a side course or prerequisite to a good steak. Why wasn’t there a green bean scare when I was a kid? No such mishap has occurred among vegetables since the big potato problem in the old country hundreds of years ago.

Our family received half a butchered beef as a Christmas present this year. We grilled steaks in the cold blowing wind and snow late Monday evening. Let me just reassure you I never once considered getting “mad cow disease” throughout the entire meal. Both my dad and father-in-law raise cattle, and both have mentioned the concern over the future of beef prices should the public scare continue. I still believe education is the best defense when facing any new problem. Lets better learn the concerns before we all turn into vegetarians and waste away. Although my wife assures me that wouldn’t happen if I were to give up eating red meat, well …, I’m not ready to take any chances.

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