Do consumers really want to see where their food comes from?

Cows visiting slaughterhouse videoLast week, I asked this question in my latest post on CNN Eatocracy. There were a variety of replies, mostly with concern for the ethics of eating meat. The majority of the 225 comments so far have missed the point. “How concerned are consumers about transparency in the food supply?” Read more here.

I included links to a couple of videos that show a great walk-through of beef and pork slaughterhouses with animal behavorist, Dr. Temple Grandin.

Video tour of a beef slaughterhouse from American Meat Institute

Video tour of a pork slaughterhouse from American Meat Institute

The comments on other sites in response to the post were generally more positive. Here is one of my favorites from Reddit:

I think lack of transparency in conventional ag has been a massive failure for their marketing. No one knows what the average system looks like for animals cradle to grave, and therefore, “educated” consumers assume that it all looks like the dungeons of animal torture portrayed by animal rights groups. If the people who wanted to see what it looks like could happen upon Temple Grandin’s videos before PETA’s, the level of trust wouldn’t be so dismal. That tide seems to be turning, but it’s going to take a lot longer to regain the trust than it would have to not lose it in the first place.

I’m glad that person actually took the time to read the post and watch the videos linked within it.

On sites like CNN, I don’t gauge the response solely by the comments. Usually there are mostly folks there who just want to stand on a box and shout their opinion (whether they read the article or not). The poll gives a different message from readers of the post.

CNN Poll Eatocracy Meat Slaughterhouse

In response to the question, “If you had the chance, would you visit a slaughterhouse?” most readers responded that the wouldn’t in fear that they couldn’t stomach the experience, or that they have visited one and are glad they did. Another 17% said they are ok with not visiting and are aware of the process.

What would be your vote?



  1. It seems to me like there were a few steps omitted from Dr Grandins tour. How can we ask if the consumer is ready to see it when we don’t show it clear through from beginning to end?

    1. Not sure what you’re looking for. I think the videos do a good job of answer questions about what happens to immediately prior to, during, and after the slaughter process. Care to explain what more you think should be included?

      I guess I look at it this way: I’m very thankful for videos like these because it is MUCH more than we have received recently from large slaughter facilities and a good move in the direction of transparency. There are many things here for both consumers and producers to learn about the process.

      1. I think an unedited video showing the process beginning to end could be a very powerful tool. This video answered a lot of good questions, but left out some images that are a part of slaughter. Show them how cattle are bled out, show them how the entrails are processed and used. Those can be graphic images but at least it is full transparency. I think when we edit out parts of the process, even if we think they aren’t relevant, that can be misconstrued as hiding something.

      2. Yes, those could have been included. I do believe the bleeding was talked about.

        I’m looking at this as a glass half full opportunity. Not trying to pick it apart for holes.

  2. In my opinion people like transparancy as long as it is convenient and fits into their (literal) comfort zone.
    – Everybody prefers to see a cow on the prarie (best if a little cute calve crosses the picture as well) rather than a less romantic feedlot.
    – Everybody prefers “grass fed” rather than feed alternatives they never heard of
    – Everybody likes to stop thinking at this point rather than think it through how the cow from the romantic green pasture becomes a steak on the plate.

    The list can go on and on, but for me it comes back to the point that people like what they know and what is comfortable for them.
    I’m not sure myself if I could stand a slaughterhouse tour, simply because I fear it has the same effect like emergency room and/or surgery TV shows.. flesh&blood(&smell) simply trigger some cavewoman insticts that overall make me feel “uncomfortable”.

    Nonetheless I “like” the videos because it is valuable information and I wish every person that “shares” the cruel “factory farming animal torture” videos with some “all ranchers are bad” slogan would make the effort to question the source and if there are alternatives (which there obviously are..). But that’s not comfortable…

    Thank you Ryan, again a very valuable post and you do a wonderful job with the CNN posts to spread the word about the “true” majority of ranching

    Greetings from overseas

  3. Ryan, I see what you mean re your CNN article. The comments became meat-eaters versus vegans/vegetarians. That always seems to happen and people get so hot-tempered! Maybe that occurs because if you don’t eat meat, and feel passionately about it, it stops all discussions. There would be no need for transparency if there was no need for meat. As a person who tends not to eat meat, I think I’d be okay viewing a video of slaughter, but in person, would probably pass out, LOL. I would feel greatly reassured if I saw compassionate slaughter and knew without a doubt that those practices were used everywhere. (However, I can’t seem to get myself to view the videos you posted, so I truly am a super softie.) Back to the point, the latter is what worries me. I know you feel that HSUS uses edited videos (who doesn’t?), but apparently something bad is happening somewhere. If you’re the one in a 1,000 animals that suffer you don’t feel it any less. But Temple Grandin’s work is very reassuring and I applaud anyone who makes the slaughter process humane. As a nation, we’re not going to give up meat, but let’s think deeply about it and make the process from birth to death humane. And I realize you’re a humane farmer :). I’m not a big meat-eater, but I believe in farms and farmers and what they do.
    Good topic; thank you for making me think about this!

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