Growing up, I was always a fan of those ubiquitous "best of the year" stories that news outlets put together every December, so I thought it fitting that I give a little something back this year to the thing that has given so much to me through the two-thousand-aughts. Of course, I'm talking about meat products.
So below is a recap of our platter-sized meat stories from the past decade.
Mad Cow Disease
We'll start here because it's gross, and I want to finish hungry. So it turns out that
making cows into cannibals by feeding them other cows is a bad idea. Who knew? First cropping up in Britain in 1984, mad cow disease had its coming out party in 2003 when the first case was discovered in the States, which really pissed us off. It also worried the Japanese, who stopped buying beef from us for two years, and U.S. beef exports plummeted. As of now though, only three American cows and three American citizens have been infected, as opposed to upwards of 180,000 U.K. cattle and 170 U.K. folks. So we've pretty much stopped giving a shit.
The Swine Flu
Not buying bacon is poor judgment. Not buying bacon because you think you can get swine flu from it is idiotic (though PETA exploited the non-connection in a scare campaign to make more vegetarians). The most over-hyped, fear-mongering story with a meat-related name helped identify morons in the butcher department and highlighted the vice-president's lack of a brain/mouth filter when he went on national television and said: "I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now ..." For the last time: you can't get swine flu from pig, and Joe Biden needs a muzzle.
National Poultry Museum
In 2009, the new National Poultry Museum finally opened its doors on the grounds of the National Agriculture Hall of Fame in Kansas City. At last there's a place to find out the answers to questions like "where do chickens come from?" (though I'm pretty sure I know that) and "how many pounds of poultry is consumed a year?" Because, you know, the internet sucks for that sort of thing.
The first nine years of the decade saw a slow build in positive White House influence on meat. We started with Bill Clinton, friend of McDonald's and barbecue, then transitioned to eight years with a president who not only cooked meat but would make almost as good a hunting buddy as Ted Nugent (as long as the veep stayed at the White House). The Obama administration, though, has stepped backwards a bit by setting a horrible example for America's youth. At a local restaurant in D.C. this past spring, the president ordered a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and jalapenos (so far, terrific), then sprayed the agent orange of beef condiments all over it when he added mustard. A public humiliation of ground beef that was an insult to cows everywhere.
The McRib Farewell Tour: All Three of Them
McDonald's awesome slab of pork, pressed into a shape that almost resembles ribs, then slathered with clumsy barbecue sauce, went on farewell tours in 2005, 2006, and 2007. It then reappeared in 2008. And 2009. Kind of reminds me of Phil Collins, but with more talent.
Sausage Is Back!
Obnoxious vegetarian hipsters finally discovered what most of us already knew: not eating meat makes you flimsy. And now that eating meat isn't frowned upon buy the cooler-than-thou set, artisan sausage makers have opened shops up all over the United States. With link after link of creative meat blend variations available pretty much everywhere, there's just no reason to buy Prozac anymore.
So the vicious lies about our tasty animal friends are in the rear view mirror and meat is making a thunderous comeback (despite the odd presidential misstep). What more could I possibly ask for (besides a barbecue master living in my basement)? Until the next decade meat wrap-up, remember: it's never too early in the morning for meat, and it's never too late in the day to point and laugh at a vegetarian.
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and resolves every New Year's Eve to turn at least one vegetarian away from the dark side.