Would you like sparkling water, bottled still water or blood water?
That is the question restaurants in Dallas should be asking diners thanks to a slaughterhouse that has been dumping pig’s blood into a local river. “Dallas County health officials say photos investigators took show blood appearing to flow from the Columbia Packing Company [CPC] into Cedar Creek and then into the Trinity River,” the local CBS affiliate reported. The Dallas Morning News ran a photo of a local creek running dark red with blood.
CPC’s violations were so severe that the slaughterhouse was shut down, and recently CPC and two of its officers were indicted. “Former owner Joseph Ondrusek and his vice president Donny Ondrusek both face water pollution and evidence tampering physical evidence charges,” CBS DFW reports. The company faces fines of $1.5 million and the officers could be sentenced to prison time — one of them faces a maximum sentence of 50 years.
Councilman Dwaine Caraway said these measures may not have been necessary were it not for CPC’s complete disregard for the law. “The evidence proves they disregarded, disrespected, bullied the community,” he told CBS DFW. Dallas officials said an investigation revealed “a hidden pipe used to bypass a sewer monitoring device” in order to dump the blood into a creek.
Slapping a corporate executive with up to 50 years in prison is not a common thing in the U.S. of A. It suggests a populace that is well and truly pissed off.
I don’t think it is water pollution alone that has people quite so riled. Note this Care2 article: Polluters Dump 226 Million Pounds of Toxins into U.S. Rivers. Slaughterhouses are among the worst polluters of American waterways, and water pollution is nearly commonplace. So what has people in a tar-and-feather mood in this particular instance?
It’s the blood.
Blood grosses people out. We use fake blood liberally on Halloween to scare each other, and in movies for a thrill. It is never commonplace and almost always draws a reaction, whether it is our own or someone else’s. The more blood there is, the more disgusted or horrified we are, and this case involved a lot of blood — take another look at the photo. Yuck, right?
There are cultures that eat blood — on purpose. Blood pudding, anyone? No thanks, right? Much as Americans love our vampires, we have not embraced blood on a culinary level.
But wait a minute. People eat pig’s flesh all the time, though not long before that flesh was pulsing with blood. And I’ve got news for the non-kosher out there: when you eat that flesh, you are eating blood. Not much, maybe, but some. Pigs’ throats are slit at slaughter and they are bled, but not enough to clear out their entire cardiovascular systems. Kosher meat doesn’t contain blood, but it takes some effort to make it that way.
Blood is an inevitable and copious byproduct of killing and eating animals. Most of us don’t see it, or the other gruesome things that go on in slaughterhouses, because they are usually not in residential centers.
That doesn’t mean these things aren’t happening, and they are happening solely because people eat meat. “You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity,” Ralph Waldo Emerson noted. Albert Schweitzer asked humanity to “think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”
But people don’t want to do that. So when a photograph in the newspaper forces them to, the individuals responsible find themselves looking at 50 years in the slammer, where they will be “concealed in the graceful distance of miles.”