Friday, May 21, 2010

Mobile Slaughterhouses

I've highlighted articles about the lack of infrastructure for local, organic meat in the Northeast before, so I thought this report about a mobile slaughterhouse noteworthy:
“We had no models to follow,” Snyder said. “We were trying to miniaturize what is a very complex process and still keep it able to be legal on the road. It’s so well choreographed in there. It’s like the Rockettes: you can’t step out of line because you’ll bump into somebody’s saw.”

Yes, you will. The kill trailer is 8 feet wide and 53 feet long. In that space a cow, lamb or goat is stunned, killed, bled, skinned and eviscerated. The organs are rolled into the adjoining inedible parts trailer, to be composted or picked up by a renderer for disposal. The carcass is sawed in half and washed with a lactic-acid solution before it’s moved to a chilling compartment. Later, it will be transferred to the connecting refrigerated delivery truck, which can drive off to the nearest “cut and wrap” facility, or butcher. During the entire process, a U.S.D.A. inspector — in the Eklunds’ case, a ponytailed woman with a warm smile — stands in the kill trailer.

I wasn’t allowed in during a kill, but I was able to watch the Red Devon cow I’d just admired in the holding area be led calmly up the ramp and into the trailer. The wild thrashing that followed triggered primal fear and sadness, which caught me off-guard considering that I’m that obnoxious meat hipster who serves pickled pigs’ tongues at her wedding. Silence. Then blood began trickling from the pipe. When I entered the gory trailer at the end of the day, the quarters of four cows dangled neatly in the cooler.

There's no mention of how expensive it is to operate something like this... obviously it's much more inefficient than a regular slaughterhouse... but presumably it's worth being able to keep your meat organic and to not stress the animals with transport and the like.