Have a butchers? We hide from the truth about meat

A campaign to remove carcasses from the display window of a Sudbury butchers shows just how far we will go to ignore the bloody reality

Share

On a recent edition of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson held up a bacon sandwich (I can't remember why): “Ah, the bacon sandwich,” he said. “The only known cure for...vegetarianism”. It was a neat joke - like all the best ones, rooted in reality - but I found myself fantasising about an anti-Clarkson figure, who'd turn up on a popular TV show, hold up the severed head of a pig, and say: “Ah, the pig's head. The only known cure for...meat-eating”.

We are too squeamish about the precise origin of the meat on our plate, and the methods by which it gets to us, and the Battle of the Butcher of Borehamwood Precinct tells us much about our double standards when it comes to meat-eating. There, in Sudbury in the heart of Suffolk, a campaign was launched to get JBS Butchers to remove the display of animal carcasses, game birds, and, yes, pigs' heads from his window. He bowed to public pressure, and withdrew his Damien Hirst-esque still life window display.

It had been a very English campaign. Letters were written to the local paper, started by a man who said he didn't want his 12-year-old daughter seeing “mutilated carcasses” when she was on her way to the sweet shop. It became a topic of debate on local radio stations. A petition was started, and a boycott of the shopping centre was mooted. As a result, JBS took the dead bodies out of the window. Where once hares and pheasants hung, there was a sign which said simply: “Due to complaints there is no window display!”

Cue the backlash. Give us our severed heads and bloody flesh back, insisted the now-vocal majority, spurred on by the forces of conservatism (aka the Daily Mail), who characterised this as a battle of touchy-feely, metropolitan liberalism versus age-old Middle England customs. Of course, it's a little more complicated than that, but JBS Butchers, having benefited from the publicity about taking down their display, have received another burst of positive PR by vowing to bring it back. The beast of political correctness has been slayed, butchered and hung up for all to see.

I very rarely eat red meat, for health rather than ethical reasons, but I believe that those who do should be happy to embrace the reality of meat production. In fancy restaurants, they make a song and dance on the menu about the provenance of their meat, but, outside of this privileged environment, no one pays much attention to the bloody process involved in bringing, say, a burger to the plate. Hats off to JBS Butchers, I say. At least they're being honest about their product, illustrating what a steak looks like before it's been flame-grilled.

I wish other retailers would show their products in the raw. Let's see low-price clothes stores have pictures of the conditions in which a pair of £3.50 jeans have been made. We are all too willing to ignore the process, concentrating merely on the output. People should have an opportunity to make an informed decision about what to buy and, in any case, if you can't stand the meat, stay out of the butchers.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month