Livery

Kage Baker was an unembarrassed omnivore. She ate meat; and not only made no excuses for it, she defended the practice. She noted the human digestive tract (shortened, like a carnivore’s), the canine and incisor teeth (designed to slice and tear), the metabolic dependence on protein (which fuels, among other desirable things, our huge brains).

And, Kage pointed out, she -and many people- just like to eat meat. More, she – and many more people – really do not like to be told what they must not eat. Especially when based on someone else’s morals. Militant vegetarians distressed her; she compared their efforts darkly to Prohibition – which not only did not succeed in persuading Americans not to drink alcohol, but increased production and imbibing while empowering a criminal empire to new and unparalleled heights.

That attitude, and its results, can all be seen in her Secular Puritan future. Kage speculated widely on the effects of legislated veganism, Beast Liberation and the criminalization of  normal human appetite: she took it to  to comic lengths – chickens, unprepared for an unprotected life, become extinct in England. Conversely, tigers naturalize – because who’s gonna stop them? But she also had some quite serious points to make, showing a growing alienation growing up between humans and the natural world.

You can see it happening even now, as urban dwellers become less informed and more afraid of grass and trees and untethered animals. Those of us who teach small children are all familiar with stories wherein school children – or their parents! – become distraught when they discover the realities of meat and milk: to wit, even good old milk originates in an animal. I have personally had parents become angry when their offspring learned that hamburger once walked around, and a slice of cheese comes from an udder. It’s not because it’s wrong to hurt or abuse animals, either; it’s because animals are nasty.

This is no way to raise normal human beings. They will never respect the sources of their food, they will never feel a bond with other living things, they will never understand that violence is real and not  amusing noises on a computer screen. They won’t even choose vegetarianism from a sense of moral purpose  – only because a soy bean is less yucky than a pig.

By the way, I think vegetarianism- even the rigours of vegan eating – are a perfectly acceptable choice for an informed adult. It’s not how humans are designed to operate, but if you are educated enough to fill in the missing fats and proteins, it’s your choice. I’m not convinced we’re designed to wear shoes, either, but I do it anyway for personal reasons of comfort and style. However: it’s no way to raise healthy children. We’re omnivores – and kids need even more fat and protein than adults. If they are deprived of those things, their immune systems are crippled, their growth is stunted and their brain do not mature properly.

I called today’s rant  LIVERY (and I admit, I am ranting more than a bit) because of an article I read yestreday. One of the meanings of livery is “providing food for someone.” And at the moment, upper scale restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco are providing special liver evenings for fans of goose liver. These are dedicated foie gras menus: multi-course meals based on presentation of foie gras in various dishes and styles. They are doing it because as of January 2012, the production and sale of foie gras in California will become illegal. Those who like to eat it are doing so now; restaurants that like to serve it are making a point along with a bit of extra money.

Kage liked foie gras. She usually abhorred organ meat, not caring for the flavour as well as falling prey to the yucky factor. But a restraunteur friend once served it to her, and Kage was too polite to say Dear God No. One bite and she was hooked – some primal appetite opened its eyes and declared that this was what it had been waiting for all her life!

It was a moral dilemma. Was it proper to eat the liver of a goose purpose-raised to have a big fat liver just so people could eat it? She did some research … feeding geese with lots and lots of fattening food rammed down their throats certainly sounds cruel – but that happens to be how birds do feed their young. And the geese raised for the trade rush to be fed when they see the guy with the funnel and the goose feed. And they live as happy a life as any other goose raised for food.

Kage decided it was as proper as eating any other animal, and it meant another bit of the goose did not go to waste. So on those rare occasions when we went to restaurants fancy enough to include it on the menu, she indulged. And she always commented on how it would soon be illegal, if her future came to pass … then she’d order  something made with cream for dessert, twinkling wickedly.

I remembered that yestreday, reading the news. I thought of Kage, actually looking up the care and feeding of foie gras geese, to see if her fondness for goose liver was justified; I thought of the researcht that went into her decisions. I thought of her still saying grace before every meal, thanking God and the meal’s donors for feeding her.

And I think I need liver and onions for dinner now. Or at least a braunschweiger sandwich.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to Livery

  1. John Monday says:

    California was right to pass a law banning the cruel force-feeding of ducks for foie gras. Even California’s sole foie gras factory farm supported passing the law! See http://www.humanesociety.org/CAFoieGras for more info.

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    • Kate says:

      I can’t agree, John. But you already knew that. BTW, your link is dead – leads to an aggregate site for animal groups, not to an article. I recall the battle over this issue in California, though – and what the one goose farm was in favour of was changing feeding procedures: not making themselves illegal.

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  2. Wayne says:

    I watched a lovely episode of the F-word where they explored the issue thoroughly. Visiting a farm where they simply made sure there was plenty of feed available for the geese that naturally fatten up for winter. then of course they slaughter before the geese can start to lose the stored energy…
    I’m with Kage on this one.

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    • Kate says:

      It’s not necessary to force feed them, it turns out – geese will eat until they pass out, if the food is supplied. One of the farms that supported the legislation was, I believe, just inb favour of not force feeding.

      Although, you know, that’s how adult birds feed their young. And their spouses, too, when they are courting.

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com

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  3. buddhist59 says:

    I buy grass-fed organic beef from local farmers, and I keep asking them if they would please notify me before they put down a cow for stock. I want to feed it apples and thank it personally. When I told some friends about this wish – a party for the food animal before it dies – they told me I just “want to feel good” about eating meat. No, I want to let the food animal know that its life is supremely appreciated, and its energy is going to a good thing — dinner.

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    • Kate says:

      Makes sense to me, Joy – part of the grace Kage and i said on official conventions was a toast: To the founder of the feast. That included the entities that were contributing their lives to ours.

      A friend of mine raised ducks while her three daughters were growing up. They used a lot of the eggs, but when the ducks got too numerous, she would have a local butcher kill and dress the excess. When they were served at dinners thereafter, her little girls would ask who it was, and thank them and comment on how nice good old Krumkake or whoever tasted …

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