Category Archives: “La Palette”

Eat Your Words: Toronto Horsemeat Restaurant La Palette Public Health Disclosures

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"La Palette", protest, toronto, "Queen Street West" , "french restaurant", horse, horsemeat

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The summer of 2012 was one where activists demonstrated almost every week against horsemeat restaurant La Palette on Queen St. West.  During that time we started paying attention to La Palette’s food safety evaluations under the “DineSafe” program operated by Toronto Public Health.  The program features an Interactive map of every restaurant,  grocery,  cafe and take-out joint that’s been closed by Toronto Public Health since 2001. If we hadn’t been watching, we would have missed a wonderful exercise in schadenfraude – partway through our demonstrations we read on the DineSafe website that Palette received a “conditional pass,” results of which are in the public domain. Restaurants are required to prominently display this information on the front of their entrances (known to Torontonians as “Scores on Doors”),  and when arriving one evening to protest, we were amused to see that a potted plant

La Palette Toronto Public Health Report - courtesy of a protester

2012: La Palette Toronto Public Health Report – courtesy of a protester (notice plant partially obscuring the sign on window)

appeared out of nowhere and partially obscured the signage. La Palette appears to be a restaurant that’s now regularly considered to be “medium/high risk” by the Health Department since in 2014, two years after that conditional pass, they are still being audited 3 times a year. That in itself is probably not atypical for a resto serving multiple meat dishes, some of which are served raw,  but the findings are interesting none the less.

Jim Chan, head of Toronto Public Health’s food-safety program, explains that Toronto Public Health uses a risk-assessment system to figure out how frequently to inspect any given establishment, whether it’s a hot dog cart or a hotel kitchen. Here’s how it works:

HIGH-RISK PREMISES (Inspected three times a year or more): “The more complicated the food preparation, the higher the food-safety risk. “Think of a restaurant with multiple items on the menu, with raw food and ready-to-eat food,” says Chan. “Think of a hospital kitchen, or a long-term-care-home kitchen. If these operators are not careful, it increases the risk of food poisoning.”

MEDIUM-RISK PREMISES (Inspected twice a year or more): “Lots of people think McDonald’s would be high-risk, but it’s medium-risk,” says Chan. “Everything is generic: You have frozen patties, and there’s one way to cook them and one way to serve them.” Other medium-risk establishments: most pizza places, bakeries, sub shops and cafés.

LOW-RISK PREMISES (Inspected once a year or more): “When you look at a 7-Eleven, where all they have is a few hot dogs on a rotisserie, or they sell chips, pre-packaged sandwiches, stuff like that, they’ll be low-risk.” Ditto for Starbucks and most convenience stores.”

"La Palette", horsemeat, protest, "Toronto restaurant" , "french restaurant" , horse

Shamez Amlani,  co-owner of La Palette,  engages a protester

A typical tactic of La Palette during protests was to go out into the street and start serving raw horsemeat to passersby.  In some respects this isn’t entirely a bad thing – when they give away food it means they aren’t selling it.  But whenever I think about eating raw meat, I feel an eating disorder coming on.  I get a little panicky when I think that people, perhaps unknowingly, are eating food I’ve been taught to avoid – even moreso because it’s horsemeat. Personally I don’t get it. It is clear that there are absolutely no critical control points to minimize the risk of infection with the consumption of raw horsemeat.

Here’s last year’s summary of audit findings served up online along with an inspection from 2015 (some of which are highlighted as “significant”).  All findings seem confined to washing, sanitizing, preventing contamination of foods/surfaces – all actions you’d want a restaurant to have figured out after years in operation and several previous cautions by Toronto Public Health.

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  •  OPERATE FOOD PREMISE – FAIL TO EQUIP FACILITY WITH WASTE RECEPTACLE O. REG 562/90 SEC. 68(3)(D)
  • Operator fail to properly wash equipment  (mutiple observations)
  • Operator fail to properly wash surfaces in rooms (multiple observations)
  • Operator fail to sanitize garbage containers as required
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE CAP WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE SINGLE-SERVICE CONTAINERS KEPT IN MANNER PREVENTING CONTAMINATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(D)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE COVER WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • FAIL TO PROVIDE THERMOMETER IN STORAGE COMPARTMENT O. REG 562/90 SEC. 21

None of the above issues mean that La Palette will get anything less than a green “Pass” evaluation,  and unless a diner takes the time to look up the last audit on the DineSafe website they will not be aware of the  individual infractions.   Since the inception of the program however, only 4 restaurants in Toronto have actually lost their license.

I doubt that any pretentious,  self-indulgent, horse-eating foodies will be tangentially concerned with food hygiene anyway – chefs are some of the least reliable people to ask about safely cooking food to eliminate bacterial (or parasitic) contamination.  And trendy executive chefs like former heroin addict Anthony Bourdain have long popularized the idea that eating”good” food needs to involve some element of risk.  And raw horsemeat = trichinosis roulette.

Animal Activist Do’s and Don’ts – A Code of Conduct For Protests

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Amberlea with clover for her horseWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Artwork by:  Heather Clemenceau

I think that many people hear the term “Code of Conduct” and think that they are automatically about to be thrown in a straitjacket of do-goodiness.  But a Code of Conduct is really just an itemization of our ethics – it sets the tone from the top down, on what our culture of protest, use of social media, etc. will be.  When the Code is understood by activists, it protects us from our own occasional tendency to want to behave roguishly, and it shows people who are watching and listening to us that we have lines that we just won’t cross,  no matter what others do.

I believe that protests should have principles that govern us.  So I’m drawing on my own experience in the Corporate world as well as the activist world in itemizing what I think are important facets of an activist Code of Conduct:

  • We stand for non-violent protection of animals.  Peaceful protest is honourable protest.
  • Keep the protest passive and try to avoid individuals who are overtly negative.  If they insist on arguing with us, stick to the facts.  Do not use inflammatory language or insults when pointing out your legal position and your right to protest
  • What are my rights and freedoms as a photographer in Ontario?  Here is an excellent resource that explains what can be photographed,  who owns a photo,  and what can be published – Ontario Photographers Rights.
  • Do not endanger yourself or others.  If you put yourself into a situation,  then someone else must either come looking for you or must assist or rescue you,  which also puts them at risk.
  • Stand on public property.  Stand where the police tell you and make note of their badge number if the request is questionable.  If a property owner insists that you stand somewhere else, be cautious,  since the police are the ones who must enforce trespassing laws.
  • Do Use the services of the local SPCA and other agencies that advocate for animals  – they can often help raise awareness of the issues or of future protests.  Ask them to include the dates of future protests in email blasts or newsletters.
  • Do not be defamatory – do not make claims about a person’s reputation or business that may be damaging and untrue.Killer Whales (2)
  • We will always make certain that we are parking on public property.  Please do not park on private property and then proceed to protest against the person or organization upon whose property you just trespassed.
  • Do not be threatening, abusive,  harassing,  and do not invade anyone’s personal privacy.
  • Do not make sexist, racist, profane, homophobic, or otherwise offensive and discriminatory remarks
  • Do not promote violence or other unlawful acts including trespassing.
  • Call the police if someone commits an offence against you so that documentation exists.
  • Obey the law and the police. The Animal Welfare/Rights movement is one that is increasingly intersecting with traditional areas of law such as tort, criminal, property, and constitutional law.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is entrenched in Canada’s constitution, guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly in section 2(c).
  • We must be responsible and accountable for our actions, intended or unintended.
  • We don’t condone wrongdoing in ourselves and will be responsible and speak up when it occurs.
  • Do create petitions,  use photographs and factual information to support the petition.  Rely on crowdsourcing to route your petition.  Do find a way to occasionally send a message to the people who have signed your petition to keep them up to date on the progress of your cause.
  • We won’t abuse alcohol or drugs.
  • Contact the police ahead of the protest.  Ask if permits are required.  If so,  ensure that they are fully complied with.
  • If we see violence or vandalism occur, we will report it and co-operate with authorities if required.when pigs fly
  • Know thy audience.  Familiarize yourself with the goal of the protest.  If you create your own signage,  make sure that it aligns with these goals.  Some groups are not susceptible to certain message points,  which means your time and effort protesting will be minimalized or lost entirely.
  • If we use a megaphone, we will ensure that its use is sporadic rather than constant.  We will observe all local bylaws regarding megaphone use.  We will ensure that megaphones are not used excessively in residential areas and we will always use it to convey factual information.  We will not use a megaphone if it startles flight animals.
  • We will respect the rights of non-violence and compassion.
  • We will leave no garbage behind.
  • We will always present ourselves as ordinary, everyday citizens, (which we are).  We have justifiable concerns.  We must also develop and sustain a sense of practicality and realism when responding to questions and concerns.
  • Select an issue that is of particular concern to you and run a campaign to foster change within your local community, workplace or university, or on a larger scale.
  • Video Documentation should be used with a view to preserving evidence and documenting our performance.  Video recording at demos and other events can be a critically useful tool in helping us to review and improve upon our effectiveness. It can also serve as a deterrent to intimidating or violent behavior to our opponents in addition to recourse to be used in litigation. Video recording, however, may unintentionally inflame passions or be viewed as an tool of intimidation if not handled correctly. In view of this it is essential that recording demos and events be done so in a professional manner that avoids aggressive behavior and avoids as much as possible verbal exchanges. (Thanks for this suggestion Martin)

Girl chasing sheepFor a long time it was left to philosophers to speak up in defence of animals.  For example,  Pythagoras urged respect for animals. In the 17th century, early animal protection laws were advanced by Locke, Rousseau, Bentham,  John Stuart Mill et al,  and followed eventually Henry Berg,  who founded the ASPCA.  What we hold in common with the philosophers is that we can advance animal issues by using critical reasoning,  the most effective strategy.

The way has not been easy for contemporary animal activists and will perhaps get even more difficult. The animal exploitation industries have huge resources behind them, and have the ear of government,  But it is impossible to believe that, in the end, justice and compassion will not triumph.

“The question is not can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer?”

Space Migration with blue energy field

New Here?

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aboutOh hey there…..  Thanks for stopping by!  I’ve now been writing this blog for exactly 364 days!   While I’m not a professional journalist,  I hope I do a decent job of it,  at least better than these guys.

I started this blog not only as a creative outlet for myself, but because I was so inspired by the bloggers that I follow – a few philosophers,  as well as people opposed to horse slaughter and animal abuse.  I also wanted an outlet to document the protests we made against Toronto restaurants serving horsemeat,  and show that they were entirely peaceful.  My first blog post, on April 16, 2012, was the start of many posts about restaurants,  foodism,  eating animals,  pets,  and of course horses.  I post about 4-7 times a month,  and lately I’ve invited a few other bloggers and other people who write well and have a great message,  to guest post.  So I’m happy if I can publicize a great message or article, even though I didn’t write it myself.  These guest writers often end up having some of the most popular blog posts too!  I’m also a 3-D artist and like to use my own art and photography in the blog whenever possible.

mag-article-largeI try to stay away from blogging equine-related news only,  because there are so many other horse-related blogs that do a great job at that and have it totally covered.  I also want to write about local animal issues such as Toronto restaurants and livestock markets,  putting my own personal (and usually sarcastic) spin on it.  Hence the tagline “When Reason Goes Out The Window,  Ridicule Pulls Up A Chair.”  God only knows that in the world of horse slaughter,  there’s more than enough subject matter to tackle,  ranging from the inane to the irretrievably stupid.  That is not to say however, that I wouldn’t apply the appropriate gravitas or high seriousness to the subject matter that demands it.  I also write an annual summary of what happened in the world of horse welfare each year-end on Storify.  Please check out the summary for 2012 – Horse Welfare 2012 – The Year in Review

Roundups:

In these “round-ups,”  which bear no resemblance to  BLM roundups,  I highlight my own favourite posts as well as the most popular blog posts of the past year.  Check out  the top 20 countries that are responsible for the majority of traffic to this blog.  It’s like getting a quick’n’dirty view of the entire blog on fast-forward.

My Own Favourite Posts:

The Last, Best Days of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse

The Disquieting Truth About Drug Exposures in Horsemeat

Start The Car! The IKEA Monkey Chronicle Gets Ugly

Horse Sense vs. Non-Sense – 10 More Enduring Myths From The Pro-Slaughter Posse

Get Your Freak On – Horsemeat Restaurants (And the Companies That Should Sponsor Them)

Putting Horsemeat on the Table – Canadian Influences and Enablers – Infographic

Heads, I Win: Tails You Lose – Myths and Fallacies of the Pro-Slaughter Mindset

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Most Popular Posts  by Unique Hits (in descending order)

1.  Canada’s Live Export of Horses For Slaughter – Do Canadians Care?

2.  50 Shades of Black and Blue

3.  Small Town Stouffville’s Dirty Little Secret

4.  Have the Tentacles of Horse Slaughter Touched the Set of Heartland?

5.  Heads, I Win: Tails You Lose – Myths and Fallacies of the Pro-Slaughter Mindset

6.  Where Will All The Horses Go?

7.  A Tale of Two Polls…..

8.  Canada’s Horse “Welfare” Group in Dubious Company (Or Reason #189,743 Why We Cannot Trust Unified Equine or the IEBA)

9.  Hunting for Fallacies – Why Hunting is Bad for the Environment

10.  Slaughterhouse Sue – “We’re Losing Horses in Our Lives,” So Let’s Slaughter More of Them!

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Top 20 Views By Country:

United States

Canada

United Kingdom

Germany

Australia

Netherlands

Mexico

France

Italy

India

Sweden

Belgium

Austria

Spain

Switzerland

Finland

Russian Federation

Brazil

Poland

Ireland

Colophon:

Of course this blog uses the WordPress platform.  I want to give full credit to the great international community that WordPress has brought together.

The theme is “Matala” by Matt Mullenweg.

I’m using the Tag Cloud,  Twitter,  Links,  Milestone, and RSS Links Widgets, and I use Poll Daddy to collect and publish survey info.  I also use Sitemeter,  which is great when it works,  which isn’t that often!

Lastly,  please consider subscribing to this blog. You can also follow me on Twitter – @hclemenceau.  Please check out the other great blogs and resources on the right in the Blogroll.

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Mainstream Magazine “Horse-Canada” Wrestles Tough Slaughter Issue

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mom and babyLast year I was interviewed by journalist Liz Brown,  who writes for the Canadian publication Horse-Canada.  Sinikka Crosland,  Executive Director of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition was also interviewed.  This was a months-long writing/research project for Ms. Brown that was temporarily derailed when Canada stopped accepting imports of American horses briefly in October 2012.

I had wondered whether it would ever be published when a couple of people mentioned that they had seen it in the print version of the magazine.  As far as I know,  it’s not available online but I’ve reproduced it here.  It’s a fairly balanced piece that covers feedlot issues,  the ever-present spectre of horsemeat purveyor La Palette Restaurant in Toronto and our protests there,  toxicology issues,  the lack of testing protocols at the CFIA,  and the falsification of EIDs.  Of course,  horsemeat pimp Bill “Slaughter is a Wonderful Option” DesBarres is quoted as well.

You can’t read the article without arriving at the inevitable conclusion that this multi-million dollar industry is incredibly problematic,  quite apart from the actual cruelty involved.  Hopefully this article resonates with the audience of Horse Canada,  which primarily features more “fluff” pieces on topics such as coronary band injuries and dietary supplements.

Please click on the graphic to open the article in PDF format.

Horse Canada's Expose Stable to Table - please click to read the full article in PDF.

Horse Canada’s Expose Stable to Table – please click to read the full article in PDF.

Horse Welfare 2012 – The Year in Review….

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white arab greeting

© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Horse advocates have had a busy year working to prohibit the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter for human consumption. Horse protection groups released many damning reports of abuse and drug contamination,  and took aggressive legal action to discourage slaughter.

Undercover footage helped support our position,  and numerous investigations were publicized.  Citizen advocates monitored illegal trucking activities and for the first time,  retrieved horses directly from slaughterhouses. Pro-slaughters proved,  via their own (in)actions,  that slaughter does not prevent starvation.

We were also aided by the improved sensitivity of testing protocols in the EU,  which continued to reveal drug contamination of horsemeat,  a finding which is continually met with silence by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,  although the subject of drug contamination is making its way into the food webs.  We’ve told restaurants in both Canada and the US that we don’t want horses on the menu.

Horse killers,  kill buyers and their enablers did not have a good year – several were charged with felonies.  Slaughterhouse Sue and Dave Duquette were unable to open any of their proposed slaughterhouses, despite performing an endless kabuki dance around the true status of the plants.  Duquette also forgot to send a cheque to renew his own domain name on the web and subsequently lost www.daveduquette.com to a pro-horse HSUS site.

We’ve grown more media  savvy too,  with PSAs and billboards getting the message out.  We are mobilizing via different social media platforms to petition lawmakers. Numerous examples of “horse hoarding” received publicity as well,  with advocates rallying to promote horse adoptions through the increased use of Facebook groups.  We’ve also demanded that horse killers and those who fail to protect horses and humans be justly punished.  However,  despite our best efforts to keep Senate bill 1176 and House resolution 2966 active,  they both died without ever being brought to a vote.

The challenges in 2013 will be even greater,  as the EU moves to ban importation of North American horsemeat and the full force and effect of the ending of the slots program in Ontario are felt.  HWAC,  Equine Canada and the FEI are also launching “prototype” chipping programs,  ostensibly to ensure compliance with 2013 EU regulations.  As we fine-tune all our programs and advocacy efforts,  we look forward to a most challenging year,  but no doubt one filled with hope that we might be seeing the final death throes of the horse slaughter industry.  Happy Holidays indeed!

Read the entire chronological recap on Storify:

horse welfare 2012

 

Happy New Year

Join-Up! New Canadian Anti-Slaughter Billboard in the Air

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Get Your Freak On – Horsemeat Restaurants (And the Companies That Should Sponsor Them)

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hungry enough to eat a horseAs an Anglophone,  it`s sometimes second nature to make fun of the French,  after all,  they awarded Jerry Lewis the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award.  To me,  this is proof of French ridiculousness.  No offense intended to my actual French-Canadian friends though.  It has  also become somewhat second nature for me to make fun of hipster celebrity chefs who not only make endorsements for eating horse in particular,  but also promote other rather disgusting,  gross,  or cruelly derived animal products, in the name of french cuisine.  So many of them claim it`s OK to serve raw meat,  because it`s “grass-fed” (note to insufferable foodies – that`s sarcasm).   It`s widely known that the so-called celebrity chefs are victims themselves of “food fashion”and that they know squat about food safety.  The majority of celebrity chefs are food safety imbeciles and foodie fanaticism  continues unabated,  from Toronto to New York City……….

I`ve taken a sample of such menu offerings from some of these restaurants in Toronto,  not far from where I live,  and paired them with potential corporate sponsors and spokespeople who can benefit mutually by exploiting these opportunities.  And although not located in Toronto,  I`m going to include the now infamous M. Wells (All`s NOT well at M. Wells) who pretty much cover all the bases by offering horse,  marrow,  foie gras and other notably and unapologetically fatty foods.  Wherever possible I’ve used actual pics of the food provided by the restaurant.  Bon Appétit!

Blood Custard at The Black Hoof

Suggested SponsoBlood Custard at The Black Hoofr – United Horsemen`s Group

Suggested Spokesperson –  Author Jennifer McLagan – “Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal”

Since the pro horse-slaughter contingent advocates consuming their own horses,  why wouldn`t they eat blood?  They hate to waste anything,  and they already eat meat and horsemeat,  so what not just add some cream,  egg yolks,  and a little plasma (pick your favourite species) for a little dessert?  Lord knows that Sue Wallis is always preaching that the blood is the most valuable part of the animal.  Maybe Sue knows something that the rest of us don`t – perhaps blood could be the new king of condiments!  Chef Olsen at The Black Hoof certainly isn`t squeamish about it “I enjoy blood.  I think blood is a great vessel for culinary expression. When I look at The Learning Channel, at all those surgery shows, that’s when I get squeamish. But working with animals, no.”   Chef Olsen even tells us that horses don’t get parasites because they don’t graze the part of the grass stalk upon which eggs are laid.   Buy Jennifer McLagan`s book if you`ve ever wondered how to cook bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and, oh yes, testicles.

Bone Marrow at the Black Hoof

Suggested Sponsor – Legal teBone Marrow at The Black Hoofam at Monsanto

Suggested Spokesperson – Fred Flintstone

People who eat bone marrow frequently describe sucking the last bits of marrow out of the bones.  So obviously,  this isn`t a first-date kind of food – much like green salads,  which can get caught in your teeth and embarrass you later in your date.  This is the kind of food that the Monsanto legal department regularly chows down on (and sucks dry),  so  they should wholeheartedly endorse marrow.  However,  I`m not entirely sure  that one shouldn`t be cautious about eating parts of cows that may carry BSE.  FSIS in the US considers these to be the brain,  tonsils,  spinal cord,  parts of the nervous system,  and part of the small intestine.  If oxtails are suspect,  so too is bone marrow.  There is some confusion about bone marrow because it has been reported to potentially carry the infection.  Since bones were certainly around during the Paleolithic period,  and hence,  are available for inclusion into the Paleo diet,  I`ve chosen Fred Flintstone as the spokesperson.  Despite not having any dairy,  grains,  sugar,  legumes,  potatoes, processed oils,  or any other food grown after agriculture started,  Fred is still overweight and at least a 40 on the BMI scale.

Foie Gras and Nutella at The Black Hoof

Suggested Sponsor:  TotFoie Gras and Nutella at The Black Hoofal Gym

Suggested Spokesperson:  Paula Deen

I wonder what celebtard chef thought this up?  It seems like a finalist for the “Cruellest Dessert” category.  Just looking at this makes my arteries cry.  Paula Deen,  famous for the Krispy Kreme burger,  should endorse this one.  Therefore,   I suggest also incorporating a Krispy Kreme donut into this lacquered mess so you can have another sweet fat with a savoury fat – it`s a great big blessed matrimony of fat!  Adding mucho expensive (and ethically dubious) fattened duck liver to a dessert isn’t necessarily unusual. But to add some fibre to this meal I`d suggest adding a diamond-encrusted tennis bracelet and perhaps some other country-club condiments that Paula might be familiar with.

batifoleLe Tartare de Cheval Bien Relevé at Batifole

Suggested Sponsor – Merck and Co. Inc.

Suggested Spokesperson – The Geico Caveman

So this is a “well-raised” horse?  I wonder if the staff at Batifole can lay any claims to whether it was “well-killed?”  Excuse me server,  what breed was this horse?  I understand that wine painings with different breeds can be a bit tricky at times.  Perhaps to be safe,  you`d like to recommend a nice Chiati?  What wines are complementary with Trichinosis?  Foodies who embrace the new and the outré, might also embrace a dose of Trichinosis as well,  since it`s an acknowledged fact that horses carry Trichinella spiralis,  the parasite that causes the disease,  which occurs with some commonality in France.  That`s why I`m suggesting this is a sponsorship Merck might be interested in,  since they manufacture Mectizan,  the human version of Ivermectin wormers we are all using on our horses.  You might need some if you’ve eaten a horse with Trich……And our postmodern spokesperson,  the Geico Caveman, would no doubt have eaten some food raw,  at least before the invention of fire.  At least cavemen knew how to progress beyond the Paleozoic era…..

horse heart and tongueEscabeche Chevaline Niçoise at La Palette

Suggested Sponsor – FEI Dressage Rider Patrik Kittel

Suggested Spokesperson – Jasha Lottin

We`re really going to push the boundaries of good taste for this one – all around!  For the uninitiated,  this plate consists of horse heart and tongue,  with quail egg tarted up with  red wine Dijon vinaigrette.  I am presuming it`s cooked, but knowing La Palette,  you can never be too sure.  And if you`re not familiar with Jasha Lottin, she is the infamous Oregon woman who killed her horse,  gutted it,  and crawled inside the carcass, gnawing on various organs for photographs,  who was then endorsed by Wyoming Representative “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis.  Apparently Lottin thought she was recreating the scene from The Empire Strikes Back where Luke killed a tauntaun,  to keep from freezing to death.  Bear Grylls did the same with a camel.  Hey Jasha,  want to be “one with your horse?”  Go see Cavalia.   And of course,  even though video is available of  Patrik Kittel`s horse`s blue tongue,  he was cleared by the FEI from actually using rollkur at the Olympics,  since it was really only LDR (Low,  Deep, Round).

Foie Gras at La Palette

Suggested Sponsor –  ThFoie Grase American or Canadian Liver Foundation

Suggested Spokesperson – Anthony Bourdain

Odes to its “butter-soft texture and rich, subtle taste” appear regularly in the New York Times magazine.  Cruelty aside,  there may be another reason to pass on the foie gras. Scientists report that these livers of overstuffed waterfowl contain abnormal proteins that, when fed to laboratory mice, caused them to quickly develop the protein clumps themselves.  Various human diseases – among them Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and rheumatoid arthritis – are associated with these clumps, known as amyloids.  Foie gras is a traditional food in France and throughout Europe – where, interestingly, amyloidosis is more common than in the US. So why is this heavy, fat-rich delicacy also rich in amyloids? Put simply, force-feeding makes animals sick. To produce the succulent livers, tubes are inserted into the birds’ throats and corn mush is pumped in, massively inflating the animals. Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef-author-famous-TV-food-bourbon-swilling guy, should stand up and personally sponsor this entree.  He looks like death warmed-over,  quite frankly,  so it`s a fitting match.  And kudos to Wolfgang Puck for quitting the foie.

Quack “n” Track at La Palette

Suggested Sponsor – SQuack "N" Track at La Palettechering-Plough Animal Health Corp.

Suggested Spokesperson –  Banned Thoroughbred horse trainer Mark Wedig

Mark Wedig has had a symbiotic relationship with La Palette it`s true;  had it not been for the efforts of many individuals,  more Wedig trained horses would have ended up on the menu,  replete with all the usual drugs that racehorses typically run on.  Cactus Café and Canuki,  fresh off the track at Buelah Park,  were practically in the kill box at Richelieu slaughterhouse before they were miraculously retrieved after conscientious individuals presented their DRUG HISTORY to management at the abbatoir.  Not that their drug history is any different from almost any other racehorse.  Does Shamez charge extra for pharmacologically active horsemeat? Schering-Plough is one of the companies that distributes/manufactures phenylbutazone,  one of the major ingredients in horsemeat mains served in restaurants in Quebec,  Toronto,  and the OoogaMooga food festival in New York.

Tongue on Brioche at The Black Hoof

Suggested Sponsor Tongue on Brioche at The Black Hoof– Boston Scientific Corporation

Suggested Spokesperson – Andrew Zimmern,  host of Bizarre Foods

First off let me say that even when I was not a vegetarian,  I could never have overcome the mental barrier involved in eating something that had already been in somebody else`s mouth.  When fat and refined carbs are glued together in blessed matrimony, a heart attack can’t be far behind. Enter the Boston Scientific Corporation: It’s sold over a billion dollars worth of coronary stents since just 2009.  Of course,  Andrew Zimmern`s show includes a precautionary announcement, which explains that some of the foods featured on the show could cause death.  Hearing such an announcement must be the equivalent of a wet dream for Foodie Freaks.

Horse Tartare at M. Wells

Suggested Sponsor –   Horse TartarePfizer Pharmaceuticals Inc.,  makers of Premarin®

Suggested Spokesperson –  Bear Grylls

Thank god I do not have a penis,  therefore,  I`m unconcerned about repeatedly trying to demonstrate how big it is.  Chef and co-owner Hugue Dufour is soon to be spending more time than anyone else apologizing,  well except for Canadian conservative politician Rob Anders perhaps!  The manufacturer of Premarin®, Pfizer, maintains that this drug is “exclusively from natural sources.” Yes, they are correct. Horse urine is natural, but so is manure. Premarin® is so widely used because it was the first product of its kind for estrogen replacement therapy. It continues to be used, not because it is superior to the other available therapy but because it is what doctors are told is the best. They are told by a company with a huge advertising budget who has a lot to lose if doctors begin prescribing other estrogens,  or simply telling women that menopause is not a disease that requires treatment. The mares on these farms are placed in a urine collection harness and rarely taken off the “production line” for exercise or any other reason.  Straps firmly hold a rubber cup on the mare’s urethra to catch every drop of the precious urine. The continuous standing on concrete causes swollen legs and crippling. Urinary tract infections are not uncommon and many of these horses die as a result of the stress, only to be replaced by another “disposable” horse that might soon come up as a menu item at M. Wells.

Bear Grylls is not only notable for eating virtually everything raw,  from spiders to grubs to worms,  but to giving himself an enema with fetid water just to keep himself hydrated.  Dufour may already know his spokesperson Grylls, since as sous chef for Montreal`s Au Pied de Cochon, Dufour appeared in a TV show called “The Wild Chef”a couple of years ago,  travelling through La Belle Province (otherwise known as Quebec) in search of unique food experiences.  Raw oysters on a bed of jellyfish?

m. wells equadorian cuyCuy (Ecuadorian Guinea Pig) At M. Wells

Suggested Sponsor – La Molina University in Lima,  Peru

Suggested Spokesperson – Michael Vick

Here’s a guinea pig fermenting in some sort of curry bath – reminds me of United Horsemen’s “Rescue and Rehabilition” program for horses – only it’s nothing like a spa treatment.  I have to admit I was shocked when I saw this pic on M. Wells Facebook page,  since I consider guinea pigs to be children’s pets.  Secondly,  I am shocked since I strongly suspect that this animal was never USDA inspected,  and since the proprietors imported it from Ecuador,  as per their own comments;  I wonder how they got it here?   Clearly,  since it’s a menu item,  they had more than one.  I know there’s an entire black market industry revolving around the import of animals and I’ve seen many pics of people caught in customs with animals in their suitcases or strapped inside their pant legs,  bound and silenced or even sedated.  Even if it arrived frozen from Ecuador,  how is a small animal such as this “dispatched” in that country?  Any meat that is not state or federally inspected may not be served in restaurants or sold in any way.  Selling uninspected meat is a serious crime.  Even wild meat that is processed by a butcher must be stamped “not for resale.” Our sponsor,  La Molina University, wants to exploit their genetic engineering of guinea pigs,  since they have taken an animal that normally weighs a pound,  and engineered it to weigh 2.5 pounds.  Makes you wonder what they have done to more than double the size of the animal.  Michael Vick is the celebrity face of pet cruelty,  and an appropos spokesperson considering that most people in the west consider that guinea pigs are pets.

How about we just go back to Meat (if you eat it) and plain old white potatoes. Maybe a green salad with a tomato or two.  But if we did that what would happen to the Celebrity Chefs? Oh yeah, they might just go back to cooking decent food instead.  I’m ready for this cruel macho eating to finally go away – along with the restaurants and chefs responsible for it.  Oh,  and another foodie freak habit I hope goes away real soon – taking photos throughout the meal and posting them on Twitter and Facebook – the rest of us don`t need to see your documentation of your food,  OK,  well I did,  at least for this blogpost.  Blackberries and iPhones are not as necessary on a table as are knives and forks.  `Nuff said.

Not Rah-Rah about Raw – La Palette Protest – September 21, 2012

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Written by Heather Clemenceau

Not Rah-Rah about Raw Meat

Just not feelin’ raw meat…….

Hello dear readers,  and welcome once again to our version of the Occupy movement,  on Queen Street West in Toronto!  A couple of recent protests with a smaller number of advocates in attendance have proven to be about as pleasant and soothing to the nerves as trying to shit in a public bathroom when the stall door lock is broken and you have to keep it shut with your hand.  La Palette co-owner Shamez Amlani no doubt  feels that when our attendance is in smaller numbers,  he is free to resort to douchebaggery,  and when the numbers are larger (more witnesses?) he retreats inside where his only offense is to scowl determinedly from behind the bar.

One recent attempt to get under our skin consists of having someone stand out in front

La Palette serves up raw horsemeat on Queen Street West

La Palette serves up raw horsemeat on Queen Street West (photo courtesy of Frances)

of the resto with crackers and a plate of horse tartare – uncooked horsemeat.  While some may not appreciate this tactic,  it personally bothers me very little – you know what they say about “loss leaders.”  Each sample of horsemeat that Shamez hands out free on the street is one that he cannot sell.  If I were going to recommend another tactic that works equally as poorly,  I’d suggest he also start using Groupon,  which has been shown to be an ineffective acquisition tool for customers,  primarily because curious, cost-conscious  people try a service once,  and never return.  IMO,  freebies and deals like Groupon don’t work for restaurants because while you’re devoting your time servicing a discounted customer base,  any people willing to pay top dollar for any service are often left unaccommodated.  I’ve no worries that Shamez would ever follow my business advice,  because if he did he would have gotten out of horsemeat for all the reasons I’ve accounted for in previous blogs.

“I run a small India restaurant and we were busy right after the groupon, but very few of the customers came back to eat. Plus, those that did visit spent the minimum and barely tipped our staff.”

Returning for the moment to the wisdom of offering uncooked meat to anyone who passes by – any meat,  including horsemeat of course.  I wonder how many people were initially aware that they were eating raw meat,  since this information wasn’t being provided to passers-by who took a sample?  This info might have been even more meaningful in the context of La Palette’s failure to achieve an unconditional pass from the Toronto Board of Health – Dine Safe Program.  Toronto Public Health also offers an advisory on food handling,  particularly as it concerns raw meat and cross-contamination.   IMO,  the serving of raw meat should not be allowed anywhere,  and municipalities are beginning to crack down on this practice,  because there will always be people who are determined to treat their bodies as a garbage dump, at least until they come down with a parasitic infection,   as evidenced by this comment from a foodie freak on a food blog:

“Until we fight the battles necessary to establish the fact that what ever we decide to put into our bodies regardless of perceived risk, is our decision and our right, the battles will never end. There will always be a new perceived risk with the psychopaths in government there to save you from yourself. Even if they kill you in the process. If you continue to fight each of these issues as an unique event, and try to argue the unique merits of a practice you will still fighting new battles that the system creates when the end of time arrives. Asserting your rights to what you put into your body and your absolute right to contract, is the only sane tactic and the only way we are going to win in the long run.”

Raw meat glorifies food porn and features terrible food safety.  Caveat emptor,  dumb-ass.  And it’s not a “perceived risk” either,  there is a quantifiable risk on several fronts.  From an expert:

“Raw meats or undercooked foods leave you at risk of infection of parasites or a slew of other illnesses,” says Dr. Michael Mansour of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

According to NYC’s Department of Health, restaurants must notify diners when food isn’t cooked to required temperatures — either verbally or by printing this on the menu. Basically, it’s buyer beware — though the DOH says it will investigate complaints of people getting sick from eating raw food.

Of course,  New York isn’t Toronto,  and despite my trepidation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA),  I give high marks to Toronto Public Health.  Toronto Public Health

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." Brillat-Savarin


“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
Brillat-Savarin

received the Crumbine Consumer Protection Award, consisting of a bronze Crumbine medallion and engraved plate, at the Annual Educational Conference of the National Environmental Health Association, on June 19 in Columbus, Ohio. This was the first time in its 56 year history that the award was presented to a local food safety jurisdiction outside of the United States. As a Crumbine Award winner, Toronto Public Health joins an elite group of local public health agencies that have demonstrated “unsurpassed achievements in providing outstanding food protection services in the community.”

The selection jury noted that they were particularly impressed by:
➢ Innovative and new ideas in the realm of consumer protection with technically savvy items like a phone application for consumers
➢ Transparency, with daily website posts
➢ Internationally recognized program with strong impacts felt across the United States and elsewhere

Toronto won for its restaurant inspection disclosure system – red, yellow, green signs on the doors.  La Palette is acutely aware of how this system works.

Toronto Public Health - La Palette earns a conditional pass

Toronto Public Health – La Palette earns a conditional pass

And congrats on that, because on the 10th anniversary of its groundbreaking restaurant inspection disclosure program, Toronto Public Health has become the first non-U.S. health department to win a prestigious award for “unsurpassed achievement in providing outstanding food protection.”

The city’s health department will receive the 56-year-old Samuel J. Crumbine Consumer Protection Award for DineSafe, an internationally recognized program that posts inspection results for Toronto eateries online and in their front windows.

So while Shamez is busy handing out the pharmacological version of Canadian horsemeat on the street (the EU will decline to accept American and Canadian sourced horsemeat come August 1, 2013,  but it will still be good enough for his customers)  I’ve been busy promoting this blog and the concept that horseslaughter and horsemeat are poor consumer and humane choices.  Case in point – this blog,  at the time of writing,  has received over 2,000 hits on La Palette related subject matter only,  not including Facebook penetration or hits on the individual images.  Some of my La Palette blogs rank higher in Google than the restaurant website itself,  depending on search terms and the geographical area of the searcher.  It’s the Queen Street West version of the Occupy movement.  Social media plays a huge role in shaping the views of society on a myriad of issues, and those media are also playing a role in shaping people’s opinions of dining establishments.  Social media has dramatically changed the world of protesting.

Weirkick“Things like spreading a message and amplifying a message to lots of people are really effective when done online,” said Matt Stempeck, a research assistant at MIT’s Center for Civic Media.

Horse Sense vs. Non-Sense – 10 More Enduring Myths From The Pro-Slaughter Posse

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Art © Heather Clemenceau

© Heather Clemenceau

© Heather Clemenceau

I’ve always had a interest in debunking false lore and hoaxes.  Usually  I’ve spent my time debunking pseudo science,  near-death experiences,  and alien abductions,  but the same flaws in thinking/rationalizing that lead to those belief systems can be found elsewhere.  And the pros don’t disappoint!  They continue to be dogmatic in their approach and persist in their beliefs even after shown evidence to the contrary.  Perception and reality are not the same animal.

1. We don’t have a right to tell other people/nations what to do/eat

When it comes to North American horsemeat,  the EU is certainly going to tell us what to do

– their expectation is that North American horsemeat will fall in line with their protocols,  not ours.  And countries frequently DO tell other countries what to do when it comes to prohibited trade or financial transactions.  Although I’ve heard this argument frequently on Facebook,  I’ve also heard it on the street and seen it in newspapers in Toronto – many of which seem to be linked to the whole La Palette horsemeat “promotion” that seems to be happening in Toronto – many foodies claim they should be able to eat whatever they want.  Frighteningly,  they even claim that if animal is enroute to slaughter,  there is,  accordingly to them,  no reason to treat it humanely.

© Heather Clemenceau

Do we have an obligation to avoid negligence or breach of duty?  Do we have a duty or obligation to protect people,  even if they do not live in North America,  from eating something they shouldn’t eat, or something they don’t know they are eating?  We also have a legal liability in many cases, even if the person assumes harm – these are basic consumer protection laws.  There is a branch of law referred to as “product liability.”  In the US and Canada the claims most commonly associated with product liability are negligence,  liability,  and breach of warranty claims.  Even if there is no negligence, i.e.- insufficient or faulty testing,   public policy demands that responsibility be fixed wherever it will most effectively reduce the hazards.  The CFIA and Agriculture Canada  and their counterparts in the US, can anticipate some hazards in the form of drug or parasitic contamination,  and guard against the recurrence of others,  while the  public cannot.

How many plaintiffs have sued tobacco companies for harm and won, despite the warnings?  Over time,  tobacco companies,  scared of the issue of product liability,  retreated to 2nd and 3rd world countries where they advertised heavily to the brown people who either didn’t understand the dangers or whose governments were not active in protecting them.  Ironically,  this is where some of the Pros suggested the next markets might lie……….and they sound quite a bit like Big Tobacco when they suggest it.

I’m not suggesting that horsemeat is the “new tobacco,”  but despite what many pros claim about people having the “freedom” to eat whatever they want and assume the risk,  that’s a myth,  and we must put the remains of that myth in the shredder once and for all.

2. Rescues are looking for any opportunity to steal horses

There are good and bad rescues out there.  Some rescues need their own rescues,  and others

© Heather Clemenceau

are run by thinly-veiled animal hoarders.   However,  I have honestly never heard of a rescue going onto a property and stealing someone’s horses without the benefit of the law behind them.  Don’t the pro-slaughters realize that rescues operate in conjunction with sheriffs,  who can also seize debtors goods?  Most people believe that animals in need are generally seized too late rather than too early or without merit.  Another oddity I’ve noticed is that if a rescue goes under and its animals are seized,  it’s “just desserts” according to the pro-crowd,  but if a horseowner starves his animals and they get seized,  it becomes a “property rights” issue that must be defended against.  How hypocritical.

When the property rights fanatics at United Horsemen heard about Nancy Skakel and her Shagya arabs,  they looked up long enough from their feedbags to pull some quantum moronics.  They strongly suggested,  or outright claimed that the rescue(s) had stolen Skakel’s horses,  when her neighbours should have made it their civic duty to help her by pulling down her derelict buildings,  even though she was trying to run them off her property.  Then they went on to try and ingratiate themselves in the White Salmon and Goldendale communities.  Skakel had had run-ins with the law since at least 2005 as well as with her neighbours,  who over time,  simply got fed up with her.  She couldn’t  pay her bills but kept breeding more horses,  while letting them run loose on roads for at least 5 years.  She also admitted to letting her prized stallion lay in his stall for four days until he died with no veterinary care or humane intervention after he was kicked by a horse.

Yet Duquette is outraged that  the “animal rights” folks have these horses,  even though she was charged.  This is one of the dumbest public displays of stupidity by Duquette and company ever, and that’s really saying something.   I for one am thankful that they continue to out themselves in yet another display of dumb-fuckery.  I have no idea if Duquette actually went in and repaired Nancy’s property, but if he really wants to make a difference,  why not promote any of the low cost gelding clinics in Washington,  promoted by the National Equine Resource Network?  Oh, never mind.

© Heather Clemenceau

3. Transportation is Heavily Regulated so horse injuries are minimal

The horses photographed by Animals Angels at Dennis Chavez’ feedlot obviously arrived there in terrible condition.  Had Animals Angels not documented the horses flailing on the ground unattended and without humane euthanasia,  how would the laws against such cruelty have been enforced?  Who loaded those animals on the trailers and how long were they there before they collapsed in the dirt on Chavez’ feedlot?

© Heather Clemenceau

The civilians tracking Three Angels and Terri’s Farms did so in order to document their chameleon operations and egregious avoidance of transportation laws.  A mere two months after the FMCSA ordered the closure of Lebanon, TN based Three Angels Farms because of flagrant safety violations, the agency was issuing another notice to Terri’s Farm under charges that it was operating as a chameleon carrier.  Terri’s Farm was shut down before any other serious accidents could occur (thanks to the efforts of private citizens and truckers), but chameleon carriers can go for much longer without being caught, often with serious consequences. If the FMCSA is so concerned with safety, shouldn’t they be doing more to prevent this?

The Animal Law Coalition contends that commercial transportation of Equines to Slaughter Act is unenforceable:

GAO has also confirmed that USDA/APHIS has not – and cannot – enforce transport regulations for equines sent to slaughter. 9 CFR Sections 88.1-88.6. Changing a few words here and there in the regulations will not make transport of equines to slaughter humane.  USDA/APHIS allows the kill buyers and haulers to fill out and provide the documentation – which is routinely missing, incomplete or inaccurate – relied on for enforcement. It is impossible to enforce regulations when the information to determine violations is supplied solely by the kill buyers and haulers, the very people USDA/APHIS is supposed to be regulating.

A 2010 Office of Inspector General report confirmed APHIS lacks the resources and controls to enforce regulations for humane transport of equines to slaughter. Not only is the information relied on for enforcement supplied by the kill buyers and haulers, APHIS continues to approve of new shipments to slaughter by kill buyers or haulers that have outstanding unpaid fines for violations of humane regulations. The current regulations do not give APHIS the authority to refuse approval. 

OIG also found there is no  adequate system for tracking the information, such as it is, that is supplied by the kill buyers and haulers about the horses. It is very difficult to track what happens to the horses, meaning enforcement is virtually non-existent. Also, APHIS often does not receive any information from kill buyers or haulers. OIG noted in 2011 that for the past year or more, APHIS had not received the required paperwork, owner/shipper certificates, from kill buyers or haulers for any horses sent from Texas to Mexico.

On top of that, APHIS only has two agents to try to enforce these regulations. Your agency is hamstrung by its own regulations and cannot assure humane transport of equines to slaughter. There is every reason to think your agency could not even begin to assure humane transport of horses within the U.S. to newly opened slaughter facilities. “

Lastly,  this compilation of both deliberate and accidental injuries to horses in transport was made thirty-six months after making a Freedom of Information Request of the U.S.D.A.  regarding violations of the “Commercial Transportation of Equines to Slaughter Act,” the documents were received. The 906-page FOIA includes almost 500 separate photographs of severe and alarming  cruelty of horses due to the horse slaughter industry that happened on U.S. soil. (EXTREMELY GRAPHIC) http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/favideo/demo_video.flv (EXTREMELY GRAPHIC)

4.  Slaughter operations are a desirable type of employment and anyone should be happy to work in any of them.

I guess your answer depends on what your definition of “desirable employment” is.  I can think of at least 100 different types of work I’d rather do,  some of them possibly not legal either,  which would be preferential to working in a slaughterhouse.  I’ve always wondered why we haven’t seen Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) filming a segment in a slaughterhouse.  I’ve seen film of him in a sewer,  but perhaps there are some jobs that are just too dirty for Mike………

The slaughter industry’s effect on physical environment, human health and on the high rate of injuries to workers has been carefully documented by scholars.  Slaughterhouses are also the source of human suffering as well.  The process of killing a living creature day after day creates overwhelming emotional dissonanceThis study – “Slaughterhouses and Increased Crime Rates: An Empirical Analysis of Spillover from ‘The Jungle” into the Surrounding Community, Organization and Environment,” by Amy Fitzgerald PhD,  analyses population/jobs/crime data of 1994-2002 in 581 non-metropolitan counties to analyze the effect of slaughterhouses on the surrounding communities.

The findings of the study indicate that slaughterhouse employment is strongly correlated with an increase in arrest rates, arrests for violent crimes, rape, other sex offences, vandalism, arson, robbery, assault and disorderly conduct in comparison with other industries. The study documented increases of 130 per cent increase in violent crimes in Finney County, Kansas and a 63 per cent increase in Lexington, Nebraska. The Canadian town of Brooks, Alberta, witnessed a 70 per cent increase in reported crime. Particularly telling is the fact that the arrests in counties with 7,500 slaughterhouse employees are more than double than in those where there are no slaughterhouse employees. This strongly correlates the existence of a ‘Sinclair effect’ unique to the violent workplace of the slaughterhouse, a factor ignored previously in the sociology of violence.  Here’s a bit more about Sinclair,  “The Jungle,”  and Dr. Fitzgerald’s study.

The effects are not explained away by claiming that the workers are immigrants and therefore “undesirable” elements, nor by claiming that the workers are lower class,  hard drinking people,  social disorganization,  poor populations,   etc because people working in low paid, dangerous,  blue collar towns with high unemployment do not show the same patterns in crime.  The study examined towns that focused on ironworks,  metal stamping,  and other industrial operations,  with low pay, dangerous conditions,  and routinized labour as comparables, and found no similar spike.  The unique work of killing and dismembering animals in slaughterhouses has resulted in the types of crime which Upton Sinclair referred to as “the jungle” in the community. Dr. Fitzgerald and her colleagues state that “we believe that this is another of a growing list of social problems that need explicit attention.”  To me,  the answer seems obvious – such employment is likely to lead to the worker removing animals from moral consideration,  as a coping mechanism for what they must do on a daily basis,  which often leads to removing humans from moral consideration as well.

Of course,  there’s also the explanation that slaughter operations attract psychopaths to begin with,  and I think that’s true in some cases.  I’m not a psychiatrist,  and I don’t play one on TV,  but the Rubashkin family,  who ran Agriprocessors,  a former kosher slaughterhouse,  seems to have attracted more than their share of potential psychopaths.  Agriprocessors was cited for issues involving animal treatment, food safety, environmental safety, child labour, and hiring of illegal workers.  In November 2009, Sholom Rubashkin was convicted of 86 counts of financial fraud,  including bank fraud,  mail and wire fraud and money laundering.  In 2010 he was sentenced to 27 years in prison.  I don’t believe that the Rubashkins ever slaughtered horses,  and although slaughter can never be a socially acceptable concept,  there seem to be ever-present trends with slaughterhouses – moreso than with other industries which rely heavily on manual labour.

If anything,  slaughterhouses have been thoroughly studied by a small number of scientists and sociologists.  In the US,  and to some degree in Canada,  like other divisions of agriculture, slaughterhouse workers are typically people living in low-income communities. In recent decades, an influx of Latin American workers has been seen across the country, partially due to active recruiting by the corporations. Today, approximately 38% of slaughterhouse and “meat”-processing workers were born outside of the U.S.

Many employers knowingly hire undocumented workers in an effort to satisfy the extremely high turnover rate of the industry, which often exceeds 100% annually.   In some cases, they provide incentives for current workers to recruit family and friends and even help new workers to create fake social security cards. Undocumented workers are constantly faced with the threat of deportation – either by their employer or by federal raids.

Pity the poor employee who works in at “at-will” state in the US – they can be fired at any time at management discretion. The threat of termination discourages workers from reporting safety concerns, injuries, or other serious issues. Long hours,  repetitive stress and motion,  and under-reported injuries.   As a result, workers are conditioned to accept a hazardous and demeaning work environment if they want to remain employed. How do you like the idea of working in a slaughterhouse so far?

Any mass-production industry that has slim profit margins,  which emphasizes high-speed,  often with dangerous mechanized and manual labour, is never a good outcome for animals or people. An alternative to the slaughter factory,  for people that must eat meat and wish to do so from a position of somewhat greater humanity or ecology – is the mobile slaughterhouse.  We need to see more of them.  Still wouldn’t want to work at one though………..

5.  Every carcass is tested for the presence of drugs

We know that this isn’t true because the CFIA have told us so.  This is the perception by the general public and certainly that of La Palette restaurant in Toronto and possibly other chefs as well,   despite repeatedly being informed to the contrary.  “….the CFIA’s rate of phenylbutazone testing on horse carcasses is an abysmal 0.152%(143 samples taken on 93,812 horses in 2009).  If this is the frequency recommended by United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, then I am shocked.  I don’t think I’d trust the CFIA to run the “Guess My Weight” game at the local fairgrounds.

According to the CFIA’s own website “In addition to randomly sampling horse meat for chemical residues, the CFIA conducts targetted testing based on clinical observation of animals, before stunning and slaughter.The CFIA employs veterinarians and supervised, trained inspectors in each horse slaughter plant to identify any animal that, based on its appearance or history, may have been treated with phenylbutazone. The meat from these animals may be held until testing is performed and no residues are found. Animals are also examined post-slaughter for signs of conditions such as arthritis, which can indicate they may have been treated with phenylbutazone.“ I wonder what visual inspection protocols they have for clenbuterol,  dermorphin,  and Lasix?

IMO,  the above is not a testing program.  I’ve performed organizational compliance audits that had profoundly higher sample populations, in companies that did not produce foodstuffs.   Canada needs to pay as close a scrutiny to horsemeat testing as the US does with athletes – something is terribly wrong when more runners and cyclists are scrutinized and suspended for positive drug results than is our food.   Now that the CFIA is downloading inspection of food to manufacturers and distributors,  how would this affect horsemeat,  especially in the climate whereby the EU is demanding more accountability and traceability,  not LESS?

Shamez Amlani,  owner of La Palette restaurant in Toronto,   told the Toronto Star he is “confident there will no longer be a glut of horses in Canada that could compromise the safety of the horse meat.”  Note to Shamez – if the product you’re serving in your restaurant has to sit on a feedlot for six months in order that the drugs given to it degrade, then that should give you pause.  Also, a recent Forbes article disagrees with Amlani’s logic, explaining, “Bouvry Exports and Richelieu Meats, two Canadian slaughterhouses, recently stopped accepting U.S. Thoroughbreds—the only breed whose drug records can be traced.”

However, if the 2013 EU regulations put a severe crimp in Canada’s horsemeat exports,  La Palette and other Canadian establishments will be left serving the “pharmacological” variety of horsemeat that simply isn’t good enough for EU consumers.

6.  Horsemeat is organic

This is really a recurring theme amongst chefs who should know better but don’t!  According to the CFIA,  there are stringent requirements (if you can imagine the word “stringent being used in the same sentence as “CFIA”) for suppliers to satisfy before they can call their products “organic.”  This isn’t just a Canadian thing either, we have to have standards that harmonize Canadian provisions for the production, certification, identification and labelling of organic products with international ones such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission.  Since the vast majority of horses are raised by private individuals who don’t ascribe to any of these requirements, it should be self-explanatory that horsemeat doesn’t meet the definition of “organic.”

Also,  if horsemeat and its byproducts are so “organic,”   why was Natural Valley Farms,  a horse slaughterhouse in Saskatchewan, charged with discharging blood into rivers?  Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis,  who occasionally fronts as a Representative of Wyoming,  is constantly chirping about the usefulness of all things horse slaughter-related,  including the blood,  which,  according to her,  is a valuable commodity.  I guess NVF didn’t get the message…….

7.  Environmental damage by horse slaughterhouses is vastly overstated

From a US perspective,  one of the best “go-to” persons is obviously former Kaufman Mayor Paula Bacon,  who is more than willing to provide documentation from the Public Works Director,  former Kaufman City Manager, Presbyterian Hospital,  the daycare center,  and the Police Chief to support her claims about Dallas Crown,  which had a very long history of violations to their waste permit.   The city was even fined by the TCEQ for the plant’s failure to comply with backflow regulations that meant horse blood and waste backed up into sinks, toilets and tubs. When the plant finally closed, the city was left with nearly $100,000 in unpaid fines.

Dallas Crown consistently denied the City access to their property for wastewater testing despite requirement by city ordinance, city permit agreement, and court order. City staff reported that a $6 million upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant would be required even though the plant was planned and financed to last through 2015. There were numerous examples of offal and hides being transported through main thoroughfares in containers without covers,  as well as problems with bones and and other body parts in neighbouring yards,  resulting in the attraction of “dogs and other animals.”

In response to 29 citations for wastewater violations, each accompanied by a potential fine of $2,000, Dallas Crown requested 29 separate jury trials, potentially causing yet another economic strain to the City’s budget. The cost to litigate against Dallas Crown consisted of the entire legal budget for the fiscal year. During this period, Dallas Crown paid property taxes that were less than half of what the City spent on legal fees directly related to Dallas Crown violations.

The  Beltex horse slaughter plant also violated Ft. Worth’s wastewater regulations several times, clogged sewer lines, and both spilled and pumped blood into a nearby creek,  which seems unbelievable given Slaughterhouse Sue’s claims about the value of equine blood.  The horse slaughter plant in DeKalb , IL had a similar pattern. It was charged and fined by the DeKalb Sanitary District almost every month.  Like Dallas Crown, Cavel refused to pay their fines for years.

The US slaughter plants were clearly a nightmare in many respects, but Canada hasn’t escaped scrutiny either.  Even Henry Skjerven,  a board member of Natural Valley Farms Inc., recounts its ultimate decline and fall in the Western Producer in April, 2009.  You can read the complete accounting here.

© Heather Clemenceau

“Most notable was our failure with the CFIA. Natural Valley used precious resources, time, money and people in challenging CFIA staff and regulations. The final result? CFIA removed the company’s operating licence in early 2009. Natural Valley Farms died the day the decision makers chose to kill horses. It took months to implement and hundreds of thousands of dollars of cattle producer’s investment to make that change. But horse slaughter never brought a single minute of profitability to the company.”  Even though NVF management were kicked to the curb,  the government didn’t want to see the cessation of the business.  They offered the plant to the Carry the Kettle First Nations with government assistance – this report was prepared for the Carry the Kettle First Nations.  This CHDC report was instrumental in the Band’s rejection of this business offer.

8.  The BLM does not sell horses to slaughter

One thing I can’t figure out is this –  if you have millions of acres of vacant land and there’s 100 miles between towns, why on earth can’t they put all those wild horses out there?  What really happens to wild horses and burros after they “disappear” into the paper chain of a government agency?  And what happens to them after they have been sold once or twice to different buyers who are no longer restricted in whom they may sell the horses to?

In the US,  wild horses and burros are supposedly protected from the slaughter pipeline by the 1971 act of Congress “Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.” The act states that “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death.”

The most incriminating evidence against the BLM consists of  a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, current and former employees of the Federal Bureau of Land Management have accused bureau officials of falsifying financial records, taking part in schemes to sell wild horses to slaughterhouses and obstructing Federal investigations.  Much of the letter sheds new light on published reports that bureau employees took part in schemes to sell federally protected wild horses to slaughterhouses, then tried to obstruct Federal investigations of their involvement.  At least 36,000 formerly wild horses,  adopted through BLM programs,  are unaccounted for.  Also,  under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHB) the  BLM can implement the “Final Solution” for the horses:

“[a]ny excess animal or the remains of an excess animal shall be sold if–
(A) the excess animal is more than 10 years of age; or
(B) the excess animal has been offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least 3 times.”

Currently, a wild horse or burro must be offered for adoption at 3 specific satellite or adoption events before qualifying for sale under subsection (B). Wild horses and burros sold in this way are called 3 strikes horses. Animals sold under this provision lose the protections of the WFRHBA. The BLM cannot claim a lack of knowledge in what would happen to the horses.

The BLM has sold pro-slaughter horse trader Tom Davis at least 1,700 wild horses and burros since 2009, agency records show — 70 percent of the animals purchased through its sale program. Like all buyers, Davis signs contracts promising that animals bought from the program will not be slaughtered and insists he finds them good homes. By his own account, he has ducked Colorado law to move animals across state lines and will not say where they end up. He continues to buy wild horses for slaughter from Indian reservations, which are not protected by the same laws. And since 2010, he has been seeking investors for a slaughterhouse of his own.

“Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt,” he said. “What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?”

Some BLM employees say privately that wild horse program officials may not want to look too closely at Davis. The agency has more wild horses than it knows what to do with, they say, and Davis has become a relief valve for a federal program plagued by conflict and cost over-runs.

In the following video,  watch Trent Loos and Bill DesBarres incriminate themselves discuss the semantics with respect to American wild horses coming to Canada for slaughter.  Mustangs end up in Shelby Montana (feedlot) where they go to Canada,  and according to DesBarrres (who says leprechauns are mythological?),  they are no longer BLM horses because they’ve received a new “nationality” once crossing into Canada.  I see what you did there Bill!  So the minute a wild horse crosses from the US into Canada,  it surrenders it’s “nationality” and the problem of disappearing wild horses is solved!  Watch the clusterfuck of confusion at the Horse Slaughter Summit once they realize that they’re engaged in a battle of semantics………

Government organizations can no longer plead ignorance when selling horses under their control to kill buyers.  Earlier this year Big Bend State Park agreed to sell 11 of their park horses to a known slaughter buyer from Presidio, Texas for a total  .25 cents a pound.  Nevada Department of Agriculture has offered estray horses for sale,  before they are taken to auction,  where they are likely to be sold for slaughter.  23 horses that were to be sold for slaughter by the Nevada Department of Agriculture were subsequently rescued.  And the Salt River Horses are classified as “feral” – they are not protected by the government – they can be rounded up and shipped off to slaughter houses for human consumption overseas.  Some of the most highly trained,  “bomb-proof” horses may also have been sent on a one-way ticket to slaughter – 60+ Texas Prison horses  – sold at  a public auction, their most likely destination, a Mexican slaughterhouse notorious for unspeakable cruelty.  The state of Nevada is the legal owner of all wild horses in the state except those on public lands.  Nevada will now be making their horses available at a September livestock auction where they will be sold by the pound.

9.  BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy) was invented by animal activists to distract the government from noticing that extraterrestrials are invading the US!

Did you get all that?  Never in a million years did I think cruising around the United Horsemen’s Facebook page would yield this gem of a declaration!  This poster,  who doesn’t know much about animals,  certainly nothing about horses,   but insists that it’s every man’s right to own an exotic big cat,  must be a member of the Truther Movement.  He really knows how to bring the crazy – that fringe should be on a surrey!  Technically,  this isn’t even a “myth” because not even the other United Horsemen’s posters will let this shit go unchallenged!

Actually,  quite a few UH posters jumped all over this post,  trying to correct the poster,  who believes that prion diseases were “invented” by animal activists,  or that they don’t really exist,  or that Hansel and Gretel was a story about a REAL encounter with a witch……….or something like that.  Too bad the poster can barely take a break from the hysterical responses to read what was written in response to his claims.

Actually,  this claim about BSE isn’t that much different that what you might read from your average garden-variety conspiracy theorist who believes that,  because it’s posted on the intarwebs,  it must be true – it’s all a clandestine government plan created by the Freemasons and the Bilderbergs,  who were responsible for assassinating Lincoln,  poisoning us with chemtrails,  and destroying the World Trade Center.  Our brains have been poisoned by vaccinations for diseases that don’t really exist and fluoride in your water for teeth which were actually implanted before birth by the military-backed Electronic Banking Industry, (in cahoots with HAARP and David Icke) in order to slowly release mind-control substances,  produce schizophrenia,  steal your dreams,  and imprison everyone in Russian thought-control labs where we will be anally probed by Sumerian-speaking alien reptile kings,  who are in league with Big Pharma to invent new diseases such as ADHD,  HSV,  and HPV.  Yeah,  I know the type,  I argued debated with them like forever on the internet.  And you can’t learn ‘em either,  because they don’t use critical thinking skills and cannot recognize or discern facts from fiction!  All you can do is sit back with a bemused expression,  and “watch that fringe and see how it flutters……”

The idea that prion diseases in cattle were caused by insecticide was originally floated by a self-educated farmer by the name of Mark Purdey who is quoted by our conspiracy theorist.  Purdey himself never claimed that animal rights activists had anything to do with BSE,  nor extraterrestrials,  which is just a crazy embellishment on the part of our writer.  Purdey was an intelligent eccentric who claimed that organophosphates contribute to BSE, or in humans,  known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,  or vCJD or nvCJD.  I think Purdey had honest intentions,  but like so many “fringe” ideas,  conspiracy theorists glom onto them and distort them for their own misguided motivations.

A British inquiry into BSE concluded that it was epizoonotic and was caused by cattle,  normally herbivores,  being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal,  which caused the infectious agent to spread.  One theory is that it may have originated with sheep with scrapie that were processed in the same slaughterhouse.  Prions will not disappear even if the beef containing them is cooked.

10.  I am the Shedrow blogger

As most readers here know,  the Horse Farts Anonymous Facebook page was forced to go undercover because,  turnabout wasn’t fairplay  to them when the Shedrow Confessions blogger exposed them using the very site they originally created to mock the anti-slaughter advocates.  You know what they say about payback.  But don’t worry Pros,  I’m not gonna threaten y’all with lawsuits or anything like that……

"Ana Renza" claims I am shedrow blogger

This is one enduring myth!  As Shedrow herself describes,  the pros’ “logic” in arriving at the conclusion that we’re one and the same person  is based on Shedrow making an initial posting (I think she called it a poke) on the Naughty Mendy blog with a Canadian IP  proxy.  Of course,  I am one of the few Canadians the pros ever heard of who also had a blog (even though I’ve never posted on any of the pro blawgs),  so they proceeded to block me and every other anti-slaughter Canuck they could find on Facebook – just in case their hypothesis was actually wrong.  Just more naivete about Canada – thinking that we all use the same IP!  We’re got more total area than the US too – go here pros to learn more about Canada – a country where there is more than one anti-slaughter blogger!

Anyway,  all this was done on the suggestion of Mendy Tobiano’s “techies.”  I’m not sure how even the stupidest techie could arrive at that conclusion,  unless of course,  they’re also the type of neanderthal that’s still using a stick to scratch a record of their horse kills on the limestone walls of their cave.  Of course,  the mass blocking of my Facebook profile by all six pro-slaughters did absolutely squat because I never write to them or communicate with them except if they show up on my blog,  on a third-party site,  or in a site where pros and antis are posting together with the acknowledgement that both parties will behave with respect towards the other.  And I block non-friends from sending any communications  to me on Facebook,  so it’s not like any of them can write to me either – no drama mama here.

rumours about me and shedrow

Although, by not allowing them to write to me I sometimes feel that I am missing out on a lot of primo blog material!

Whoever Shedrow is,  he or she is able to continue to read their comments unaffected – because the pros don’t know who to block!

On the rare occasion I post comments from pros who are not actually part of the pro-slaughter movement  – Slaughterhouse Sue,  Dave Duquette,  Bill DesBarres,  politicians,  public figures, etc.  I block out their names.  But since I’m being named here,  I’m not going to give them any such courtesy – you’ll understand why I’m sure.  Quid pro quo. Some of these comments are pretty strange,  I’m beginning to suspect somebody slipped Naughty Tobiano an acid tab just before she wrote the comment below.

Lastly,  I’ll leave you all with this,  courtesy of the Humane Society of Canada:

Who profits from the lives of horses destined for recreational markets?

  • • Certain breeders, private horse owners, auction marts and transporters
  • • Manufacturers, distributors and merchants for horse trailers
  • • Fuel companies (we believe that more fuel would be consumed through the widespread and frequent hauling activities of private horse keepers, as opposed to gas consumption by large transport trucks that move many head of horses in one trip to a feedlot, auction, or slaughterhouse)
  • • Hay and straw farmers, grain growers and merchants
  • • Thousands of farriers
  • • Thousands of large animal veterinarians (diagnostics, treatments, hospitalizations, surgeries, transport fees) and the people they employ
  • • Medical supply companies, distributors, and merchants (X-ray machines, centrifuges, etc.)
  • • Laboratories (blood, tissue, and wound samples, etc.)
  • • Equine therapists and acupuncturists
  • • Pharmaceutical companies (dewormers, immunizations, liniments, medications)
  • • Horse supply companies (manufacturers, distributors, and merchants for blankets, tack, fly spray, ointments, fly masks, linament for rubdowns, bandages, wraps, grooming supplies, buckets, feeders, hay nets, etc.)
  • • Manufacturers, distributors, and merchants for fencing and shelter materials
  • • Boarding stables
  • • Horse trainers
  • • Manufacturers, distributors, and merchants for equestrian show jumps & training equipment manufacturers
  • • Bed and Bale (B&B) businesses
  • • Trail riding camps
  • • Trail riding outfitters
  • • The sport horse/eventing industry (upkeep, training, events and entry fees, special bits and bridles, plaiting of manes and tails, advertising, media, food venues)
  • • Creators, publishers and merchants involved in horse books, calendars, magazines, posters, toy horses
  • • Artists, sculptors, photographers, cartoonists, framers, galleries.
  • In addition, huge show jumping events such as those held at Spruce Meadows hold widespread public appeal and attract international competitors. The facility employs over 70 full-time people, and its record attendance on a Sunday in 2002 was over 57,000. More than $5 million in prize money has been awarded toward this horse event by businesses and donors.

“Centaurs” of Attention? La Palette Protest – August 17, 2012

Standard

Tonight is the first night we’ve been back at La Palette  after their self-imposed “holiday” to catch up on repairs and renos,  you know,  just like the french do in France (after they have a humiliating experience with a restaurant inspector).  The announcement on their web page left me wondering exactly what renos they might be undertaking,  given that they’ve had an adversarial relationship with the protesters who have been camped out front almost every week since February 2012.

I can tell you that more than once I glanced upwards towards to the roof of this former horse stable,  to see if co-owner Shamez Amlani was standing up there with a boiling hot cauldron of bacon grease,  rather like those medieval “anti-personnel” fortifications that consisted of incendiary devices  or other flaming projectiles lobbed at enemy combatants during castle sieges.  Alas,  the “renos” did not consist of gunpower, quicklime,   flame throwers,  or napalm,  but Shamez is forever inching those plants out closer towards the sidewalk,  trying to push us further away from the front façade of the restaurant and towards the collection of derelict pre-WWII bicycles,  which he probably believes creates “shabby chic ambiance.”

I’d have to say that,  IMO,  the bikes  offer all the ambiance of  an episode of “American Pickers”  of the “Jersey Shore” meets “Hoarders.” You don’t want to brush up against this rusty junk – there are sharp bicycle fenders pointing

I Want to Ride My Bicycle!  Shabby Chic Elegance or Eyesore?

I Want to Ride My Bicycle! Shabby Chic Elegance or Eyesore?

out at right angles towards pedestrians as they walk by.  The Queen Street West drunks are particularly uncoordinated tonight,  snatching a protest sign  and lurching uncontrollably  into storefronts,  falling into pedestrians,  faceplanting on the sidewalks,  and narrowly avoiding that rusty tangled mass of junk.  I hope anyone coming into contact with these pre-industrial relics has recently had tetanus shots,  although I suppose when you’re drunk and lurching along Queen Street West late at night,  your physical well-being is already a low priority.

Anyway,  our protest group had speculated that at least part of the reason for the temporary shutdown was due to the excitement of the protest immediately prior,  where protest devotee Bob

Mounted Division

A Supporter from the Mounted Divison

was again manhandled by Shamez.  Shamez is really teetering on the precipice of arrest now – that bad boy can’t seem to keep his temper under control,  and Bob’s defenceless sign was mangled once again – now it has a permanent crease down the middle after La Palette’s chief horse-hater struck at Bob through the sign.  You’d expect that a clean air/bicycle activist would be a peaceful sort of person,  no?  I also wouldn’t blame you if you opined that it seemed like a direct conflict for such an activist to turn around and serve non-food animals who have been treated with prohibited drugs and then transported long distances and cruelly slaughtered, to his restaurant patrons.  Shamez seems to confirm,  as recounted in this blog since April,  that he’s hardly the zen-priest of pacifism,  logic,  or reason.

By definition,  assault  and/or battery consists of physical contact with another person without their consent.  An injury need not occur for an assault to be committed, but the force used in the assault must be offensive in nature with an intention to apply force,  which is surely does.  Typically,  people with bad tempers accompanied by poor life skills and/or coping mechanisms find themselves making physical contact with someone  as part of their argument.  Just sayin’


By now,  you may be asking yourself, dear reader,  WWBD  (What Would Bob Do)  after yet another altercation in front of the restaurant?  Bob and the other protesters conferred and in the end,  cops attended the scene,  and had  convo with Shamez that fortunately for him,  did not include a taser, handcuffs,  or a late-night phone call to a sleazy lawyer in a banlon suit.  The cops concluded their visit by advising Shamez that if he causes another physical altercation with a protester,  he will be charged.

Although we have no still pictures of this event,  we do have this incredible,  remastered, eyewitness video:

I guess this means that Shamez will now longer be mistaking the protest as a “Pro- La Palette” event,  as he has claimed in the past?

Modern Marvel?  You be the judge.......

Modern Marvel? You be the judge…….

In case you were thinking that Shamez was always the “Centaur of Attention” at his restaurant,  guess again.  It seems that his chef may also hold delusions of grandeur.  Don’t all chefs have delusions of grandeur though?  It is only food, after all, and chefs are not deities.  So whenever you see those big white plates with microscopic portions on them, you can feel validated for thinking that chefs take themselves far too seriously.  On his Facebook page,  Chef Brook Kavanagh makes the rather unbelievable  claim he is teaching a National Geographic course?  Seriously?  I thought a Discovery show on French topics might discuss the Maginot Line,  the French Revolution,  or Churchill on the Battle of France,  but no,  Brook claims he is TEACHING it.  This is a show about technology.

I know that some of these programs have teaching modules, but how could horsemeat possibly represent the subject matter for this show? Judging by the Facebook pics, it looks more like the History channel featured *something* on horsemeat.  Or perhaps it was a show on trichinosis?  I wonder if it was a segment dealing with the ramifications of leaving meat out at room temperature and consequently barely passing their Public Health inspection?

Try as I might,  I couldn’t find any independent verification of the claim of teaching a Discovery Channel show,  so I’m am throwing shade on this claim,  even though I totally believe that he is telling anyone with a pulse that horsemeat is just fab.  But when Teacher Appreciation Day rolls around,  I’ll have to give you a pass – sorry!

And now,  for a revelation that will give any attention whore pause…………wait for it……….

The last and most interesting development for the evening  is that an anonymous tipster,  who ate at La Palette and saw our protest outside,  reached out  to me via the blog.  One half of

La Palette Receipt

La Palette Receipt

the couple who dined there described Shamez’ demeanor as “perpetually pissed-off” on this evening (weekly jousts with protesters and cops might have that effect).  Ventilation was also terrible – the tipster described the place as being full of greasy smoke – the host apparently discourages patrons from sitting up front where the air is fresher,  because of the protesters!

I guess there’s nothing like greasy smoke for shabby-chic ambiance – but if it were me Shamez,  I would have made “improved ventilation” one of the “renos” that you were going to complete during the shutdown.  Other notable comments were that these diners felt that,  although they enjoyed their entrees,   they were overcharged for tiny portions  (there must be an inverse relationship between the size of the chef’s ego and the portion size – the bigger the ego of the chef – the tinier the portion?) and that the place was generally “underwhelming”  for various reasons. No wonder Amlani feels that he has to rely on the serving of horsemeat to prop up the resto – perhaps $18 for an entree “the size of your fist” isn’t going to cut it.