Saturday, March 1, 2008

Westland/Hallmark Meat Company

Torn from the headlines! (Like this one and this one.) It's the timeliest Suicide Food post ever!

The recap: Undercover video reveals horrid practices in a California meat-processing plant. So-called downer cows are crammed into the nation's beef supply, dragged there by chains, carried in by forklift. (Downer cows are cows that are too sick to walk, possibly due to mad cow disease.) A nation that had managed not to pay attention to the million-plus warnings and observations about the hell that is factory farming was appalled. (This is not an easily appalled nation! Be proud, America!) The largest beef recall in U.S. history is undertaken. School cafeterias suspend the sale of beef.

Although it failed to make the headlines, the reviled Westland/Hallmark Meat Company also sports suicide food. Do you see it, there, in the upper left-hand corner of the Los Angeles Times photo, above?

Everything makes sense now, doesn't it? Seeing that suit-wearing cow on the Hallmark sign is like detecting something off about a criminal in a post-office flier. The cold eyes of the killer, the smirk of the swindler. We are relieved to see the inner deformity made visible.

Of course, this imagery is a mass of conflicting tropes: the suit denotes authority—the cool objectivity of the businessman—while the halter and the ring through the nose denote subservience. And the whoop-de-doo index finger symbolizes sarcasm. Put them all together, and you end up with—what else?—an animal cruelty/dangerous food juggernaut!

(Thanks to Dr. Drew for the referral and to Dr. Bea for the Hallmark logo image.)

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