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  • Robert Farago

Dear Boar's Head...

You are what you meat

Pleased to meet you! Are you pleased to meat me? I hope so. I’m a loyal customer. And a fan. First and foremost…

I’m enamored by the simple fact that Boar’s Head sliced meats - like all sliced meats - don’t look like they came from an animal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for store brand cold cuts or against killing animals.

The way I see it, humans fought their way to the top of the food chain. It was a deadly struggle and no sure thing. Plenty of our ancestors were food for other species.

If some other species had made it to the protein pinnacle, I don’t think they’d have spent a lot of time wondering about the ethics of eating us. Nor would aliens.

Bard AI tut-tutted any current day non-extra-terrestrial concerns about man-eating animals: “Humans are not a natural part of any current animal's diet.”

Natural. Got it. We’re just an occasional snack for crocodiles, sharks, lions and tigers.

Having traveled the world and the seven seas, my sweet dreams have nothing to do with eliminating man-eaters. I’m down with giving them space to eat mammals more to their liking. If their circle of life expands to include naked apes, well…

As for my diet, bowel cancer be damned! I feel healthier than an ox on a meat-centric diet, supplemented by vegetables, fruit and pistachio ice cream.

Me on the meat diet. Oxen eat grasses, sedges and willows (a great name for a Dickensian law firm). As do vegetarians.

But mainly vegetarians depend on lentils, edamame, tofu, beans, nutritional yeast, spelt, teff, hemp seeds, peas and spirulina to avoid a Darwin Award.

As you know better than anyone, ain’t nobody got time for that! I buy Boar’s Head sliced meat, slap it on some fresh bread and BA-BAM! Back to writing, just like the Earl of Sandwich returning to his card game.

Excluding my end-of-life schnauzer, mosquitos and various other bugs, I’ve never killed an animal. If I had to face all that blood and guts, I would. But I don’t, so I don’t.

I buy my meat sealed in a plastic bag or cleaned, cut and shrink-wrapped, ready for cooking. Looking nothing like it’s the flesh of something had a face.

Actually, I lie.

I’ve thrown live lobsters into a pot, listened to their steely death rattle, fished them out, bisected their tail with a huge knife, cracked their exoskeleton with purpose-built pliers, dug out their innards with a tiny fork, dipped the meat in drawn butter and subjected it to my digestive enzymes.

I’m not saying I pretended one was a fighter plane heading for the pot, screaming “Pull up! Pull up!” because that would be so wrong. Speaking of wrong…

I recently met someone at my local farmer’s market wearing a black “Meat is Murder” T-shirt and a V for Vendetta mask, carrying a portable TV screen at chest level.

I assured this strange visitor from another planet that I mostly eat Whole Foods’ meat and free range eggs (and wouldn’t be considered a delicacy on their world).


“You eat bread? Cake? Food cooked at restaurants? All of its made with factory eggs.”

They/them proceeded to show me a video of baby chicks going down a conveyor belt into a grinder. An endless procession of chirping death and dismemberment.

After throwing up in the gutter (as directed), I went home and checked-out the Animal Well-Being page on your website. I found the following:

The topic of animal welfare is of great importance to us. Quality products come from quality ingredients, which we believe begins with the ethical treatment of animals.  Although we do not operate farms or raise animals ourselves, we recognize the responsibility we have to promote the humane and respectful treatment of animals. As part of our commitment, we collaborate with some of the country’s foremost animal welfare experts and carefully select suppliers who share a common goal of supporting animal health and well-being. We have stringent processes in place for all of our meat, poultry and dairy suppliers, including verification audits, annual reviews and third party audits and documentation.

Stringent eh?

As you’re not a government agency, I have faith that your inspectors aren’t prone to the same incompetence and corruption bedeviling civil servants on the public payroll. (NB: I’m from Rhode Island.)

Also quieting my concerns: you support the “five freedoms” for animals raised for slaughter.

  1. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition.

  2. Freedom from discomfort.

  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease.

  4. Freedom from fear and distress.

  5. Freedom to engage in normal patterns of animal behavior.

That list would make an excellent prenup! No doubt the lawyers would demand a legally-binding definition of discomfort, fear and distress (a great name for an ambulance chasing law firm).

Anyway, close enough for a ham sandwich. Strangely, your home page contains a testimonial from a vegetarian.

We're a Boar's Head household. Although I do all the grocery shopping for the family and all the cooking yet don't eat meat. I still buy the best for my family!

That’s a bit like an alcoholic saying “I only buy the best tequila for my family!”

If I were you I’d say “fuck vegetarians” (which someone must have done to create that commentator). One of the many reasons I’m not you, aside from love of a good turkey sandwich.

I also discovered that Boar’s Head has launched a Simplicity line. Meat made from animals who’ve missed out on growth hormones and life-saving antibiotics. Minimally processed, without artificial ingredients, preservatives or gluten (used in some marinades).

I’ve never tasted Boar’s Head Simplicity meat but it sounds bland and expensive. Kinda like vegetarian food.

I can’t say I’ve seen Simplicity at H-E-B. Truth be told, I don’t shop there often due to its relative lack of Lulu Lemon (compared to Whole Foods).

I gotta say I’m a fan of Whole Foods’ meat department, whose animal husbandry standards surmount you own.

Specifically, Whole Foods’ five-stage rating system, from Stage 1 (100 basic requirements including no cages, crates or crowding) to Stage 5 (pasture raised, no feed lots).

I suggested they offer Stage 6 meat – named animals, pictures provided – but the nice they/them at the Service Desk pointed out that the price of their meat staging system accounts for the pawn shop near checkout. Stage 6 meat would mandate a mortgage department.

I know: Boar’s Head has to compete with cheaper in-store meats and lower-quality, lower-priced, additive-laced pre-packaged alternatives. Your meat tastes better and allows me to believe I’m on the right side of wrong.

Oh yeah, the reason I’m writing this. A suggestion!

Despite the diss-fest in the video above, I’d like to sample your more exotic meats. But I don’t want to bother the deli folks and hold up other customers.

How about a Boar’s Head meat and greet?

I promise not to ask your rep how the animal made the journey from farm to gullet. Like a behind-the-scenes look at reality TV and children going through their terrible two’s, some things are better not seen and not heard.

I just wish I could forget the cartoon showing a chicken next to a man saying “He might be Colonel Sanders to you, but he’s Adolph Eichmann to us.” Know what I mean?

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