Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Calling all carnivores!

If this doesn't put you off beef for good, there's no hope.

No matter which way
the wind is blowing in Dalhart, Texas, you can smell it. The locals call it "the smell of money," when really it's just the smell of cow butt. I call it "the smell of death."

Twice a year for the past 20 y
ears I have driven through Dalhart on my way to and from New Mexico, and I have never grown accustomed to the stench and the sheer size of the dung heaps that lurk on the edge of town. As you head west out of Dalhart on Highway 54 you can literally see a murky dome of methane looming ahead. Warning: ROLL UP THE WINDOWS and PUT YOUR AC ON RECIRCULATE!!!

And as you get closer to the cloud, you'll start to see brown dots on the horizon. Those dots are cows -- tens of thousands of heads of cattle -- as far as the eye can see. They are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder into two massive feedlots on either side of the highway. You've never seen anything like this anywhere.

Regardless of my revulsion, this is an amazing vista. (The above picture doesn't do it justice, so I've added a Google Earth image of one of the lots.) These are huge bovine concentration camps the size of small towns where the cattle gorge themselves, poop a ton, eat some more, get fattened up, and then get loaded onto semis or box cars and transported up to Liberal, Kansas, where they're slaughtered and turned into Happy Meals.

And the frontage road leading to the larger Cargill feedlot is called "Farm to Market Road." Doesn't that sound quaint? As if these places can be considered "farms." How would you like to be the guy who drives around every day and picks up the dead cows who have keeled over in the heat? There's not a lick of shade for miles.

Bovine growth hormones! It's what's for dinner.

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