Saving horses from slaughter? Such an American idea

Other countries eat horsemeat; it's a matter of preference.

Other countries eat horsemeat; it's a matter of preference.

I'm in the Marais of Paris, and there's a boucherie chevaline (roughly translated: horsemeat butchery) just down the street. It's no big deal, really. Eating horsemeat rather than beef is a preference, like monkfish rather than salmon. But you'd think the sky had fallen and the waters of Elliott Bay had turned to blood if all you did was stay home and read the papers.

The Seattle Times sent reporter Lynn Thompson out to write a no-lose story about saving race horses from slaughter. "I guess I was naive," says one woman, "I had no idea what happened to race horses when they retire." Well, duh. Same thing that happens to any other farm animal past its prime.

Reaction came swiftly from Bruce King, a local entrepreneur who's now into farming and writes a blog called "Meat, Raising Animals for Food in Western Washington." His answer: repeal the ban the slaughter of horses in the U.S., a law that forces horses the shipment of horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

"What does horse taste like?" King asks. "That's a question that you, as an American Citizen, probably can't answer. We just don't eat them. They're edible, and other countries do, but we don't."

Eat a horse? That's like eating Fido. Equine slaughterhouses were outlawed in 2007, with the result that Canada and Mexico picked up the slack. Canada's okay, but in Mexico a horse is worth less than a Happy Meal. King's post is here; it's well worth reading, and it has links to half a dozen sites with further information.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Ronald Holden

Ronald Holden

Ronald Holden is a regular Crosscut contributor. His new book, published this month, is titled “HOME GROWN Seattle: 101 True Tales of Local Food & Drink." (Belltown Media. $17.95).