Tag Archives: “Toronto restaurant”

New Here?

Standard

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

Hutul-horses-05

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!

485070_565322256819529_1110968047_n

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.

shop2_1696921a

Advertisements

Mainstream Magazine “Horse-Canada” Wrestles Tough Slaughter Issue

Standard

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.

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

Standard

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

Standard

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.

“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.

“Orange” You Glad To See More Calgary Billboard Pics?

Standard

Calgary Billboard Project Team Members

Despite the fact that the colour orange is associated with the NDP party in Canada,  horse slaughter is a non-partisan issue with national importance.  Yes,  many of us have an “Orange” crush on Alex Atamanenko – here’s his blog post summarizing his position on horse slaughter in Canada:

NDP – Atamanenko Rallies Crowd at Calgary ‘Stop Slaughtering Us’ Billboard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2012

BC MP wants predatory horse meat business shut down

Calgary, AB – Alex Atamanenko, MP (BC Southern Interior), along with expert horse advocates, addressed a crowd today at the anti-horse slaughter billboard recently erected on Barlow Street SE with sponsorship from the US based Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue (AAHHR).

According to the BC MP, all kinds of horses that are raised and medicated for every purpose other than the food supply are bought up at random by kill-buyers at auctions throughout Canada and the United States.  Since horse slaughter is prohibited in the US, they are transported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses and their meat then sold for human consumption to European and domestic markets.

Atamanenko has championed the cause with his private members bill C-322, which has brought about the introduction of thousands of petitions in the House of Commons calling for an end to the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

“It seems very clear that the horsemeat industry has been exempted from the same production standards required for beef and other food animals,” noted Atamanenko.  “Cattle farmers especially would be right to start questioning such an obvious double standard.”

“Phenylbutazone, a drug commonly prescribed to horses, is not permitted to enter the food chain as it has been associated with serious health issues in humans,” advises Dr. Sandie G. Hucal, a medical doctor who provides sanctuary for equines.  “But with horses entering the slaughter pipeline from many different sources, there is no guarantee that all horsemeat is free of this drug.  This presents a definite food safety risk.”

Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director for CHDC pointed out that covert video footage captured at four separate equine slaughterhouses and released through her organization have repeatedly revealed unacceptable levels of suffering when horses are stunned.“This has led us to conclude that the humane slaughter of ‘flight’ animals such as horses is simply not possible,” said Crosland.

Bunnie Harasym, owner of Paradise Stable Horse Rescue in Saskatoon noted that she has often seen the enormous capacity of horses to change people’s lives. “Horses provide security and self worth to the person who sees no future and they give hope and confidence to troubled teens, beaten women, and others lacking in self esteem – it is unacceptable that any horse should meet such a fate”.

“Clearly there are more reasons than not to shut down this predatory, cruel and inhumane industry which enables the inappropriate slaughter of 100,000 or more horses per year in Canada,” concluded Atamanenko.

Calgary Billboard Project Team Members

Charlotte Uhrich, board sponsor states, “We are pleased to put this anti-horse-slaughter billboard up in support of NDP MP Alex Atamanenko and his Bill C-322, a Bill to end horse slaughter in Canada. Horse slaughter is inhumane and barbaric; we do not slaughter and eat our companion animals in Canada. The closet door has been opened to Canada’s dirty little secret and it is time to end this practice.”

“The campaign to end horse slaughter recognizes no borders,” states Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director of the CHDC.  “Most U.S. citizens are adamantly opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as are many Canadians.  Horses are our companions and working partners – not food for overseas diners.  Many have received drugs in their lifetimes that are not permitted to enter the food chain.”

The CHDC calls upon the Canadian government to pay heed to the concerns of citizens in both Canada and the U.S., and end the slaughter of horses on Canadian soil immediately.

 For more information, please contact Sinikka Crosland at: info@defendhorsescanada.org

CTV Calgary Interview with Dr. Hucal

CTV Calgary Interview with Dr. Hucal – please click to see video

Shut Up and Let Me Eat My Pony in Peace! – La Palette Protest – July 13th

Standard
La Palette protest - July 13th - Summerlicious

La Palette Protest – July 13th – the Toronto Summerlicious dining festival

Written by Heather Clemenceau ©;  all artwork ©

PISS OFF - is this a Urologist's office or what?

PISS OFF – is this a Urologist’s office or a message to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford? Just a shopfront I saw while making my way to La Palette,  which also seems to foreshadow the prevailing sentiment for the evening.

We’re part way through the Summerlicious dining event in the city of Toronto.  It’s hot as Hades,  and in typical Toronto style,  streets are closed-off for no apparent reason,  other than to inconvenience drivers.   You really cannot go downtown without a functioning GPS system of some sort,  because you are forced to weave through one-way arterial streets,  driving several kms out of the way and then doubling back,  and coping with other drivers who see well in advance that their lane is closing, but wait until the last second to butt in front of you.  And don’t even think about attempting a right-hand turn without checking in your mirrors and blindspots because cyclists shoot up on the right side of your car while on their iPhones.

It seems that co-owner Shamez Amlani has taken a pass on participating in Summerlicious this year,  which is probably a good idea considering that the resto only received a conditional pass in the Dine Safe program,  and there are anywhere from 5-15 protesters in front of the place each week.  It also might not be a good idea to feature raw meat dishes in Toronto as they’ve done in the past,  since it’s become apparent that the CFIA is cracking down on restaurants serving raw meat.

Toronto Public Health Report - obscured behind a plant

Toronto Public Health Report – obscured behind a plant

With the street closed-off in front of La Palette (again,  for no apparent reason),  we have much less street traffic than usual,  and less honking.   In the last few weeks we’ve seen that La Palette has a new “strategy,”  which consists of  sending out trolls to either confront us or try to get us to make damaging statements of opinion about the food at the resto.  We’re totally onto the practice of sending a troll out to talk to us under the guise of seeing if we will tell potential customers to eat elsewhere.  This can only mean that,  contrary to Shamez’ earlier statements that he loves our “marketing” efforts,  he is quite desperate to find a way to incriminate us.

Here’s how it works in practice:  a “covert agent” prodded into duty by Shamez,  walks up to the restaurant and expresses consternation about eating there in light of the protest.  After a quick minute,  that person approaches one of the protesters and asks for information.  We duly oblige.  Then the prospective diner (tonight it was an older gentleman) says he is meeting a date here for the first time and doesn’t know her very well.  “How can I explain to her?”  “What should I tell her about eating here?”  Sorry,  we’re NOT falling for THAT!  One thing we are very cognizant of not doing while on protest duty is telling anyone not to eat at the restaurant.  A few weeks ago it was a woman walking down the street, who suddenly flew into a rage at the site of the protest,  and was compelled to call the police.  Sadly,  she had no cell phone,  so she had to go INTO the restaurant to call the police.

It is not our place to render our opinion on whether the staff is friendly,  the food is good, or safe to eat.  We have NO opinion on that – patrons are free to eat there of their own free-will and we are not there to encumber them in their decision.  If you want to know whether it’s SAFE to eat at the restaurant,  check out the Dine Safe review and form your own opinion.  Of course,  it’s a dead giveaway that the person isn’t asking legit questions when he goes  inside the restaurant “to check and see if his date has arrived,”  and doesn’t emerge while we’re there.  I guess he found his dinner companion inside where he left her.

Is Shamez bribing these people to come out of the “dark, dusty” establishment to start arguments with us?  It sure seems that way. Which leads us to the Toronto Public Health report…………..where has that report been hiding?  It’s on the window where it’s supposed to be,  but it’s now somewhat obscured by a flowering plant,  which is a no-no.  To help patrons out,  one of our protesters holds an actual picture of the Dine Safe report so that passers-by can actually see it.  See how courteous and helpful we are?
La Palette Yelp Review

Yelp Review of La Palette – to be fair, the resto has many positive reviews, along with this and other negatives. Yelp throws out the highest and lowest ratings and those made by Yelp reviewers who made only this one review, as they deem them “statistically irrelevant.”

Confrontation at La Palette

Confrontation at La Palette – notice that the patron has gotten all grabby with Bob’s sign.

Tonight we’re plagued by an insufferable troll who moves from person to person trying to incite us,  under the guise of wanting to know why we’re here,  why we’ve chosen La Palette,  and what else we like to do on Friday nights, etc.  After listening to this guy for 15 minutes,  his “voice” sure sounds like one of the familiar trolls I’ve seen appear in the comments section of various Toronto newspapers for a while now.  He’s been eating horse all his life (explains a lot) and he wants facts.  Well actually,  he doesn’t,  he just wants to argue,  and he sets upon poor Bob again.  Another faux-pas is committed tonight when he grabs Bob’s sign and tries to wrench it away.  Bob,  we don’t know why everybody wants to start sumthin’ with you,  but we’re there for you buddy! Abuse of signs is not going to be tolerated. 
.

Everybody seems to be getting a turn in the cage with this guy.  When he demands that I explain my position,  I just tell him to read this blog.  But that isn’t good enough,  which is surprising since he claims to have a PhD in journalism – one would think that he would have enough education to realize that War Horse was not a cooking show.   Because he leans forward towards me to argue,  and I interpret this as a Defcon 3-type threat,  I raise my camera to take a pic (little does he know I already got one of him grabbing Bob’s sign) and he sticks his hand in front of the camera, as if he’s Sean Penn and I’m a papp at TMZ.  This troll hung out with us so long that he probably needs his own protest permit!  We ignore him for as long as possible,  but can’t resist an

Go home and let me eat my pony in peace!

Go home and let me eat my pony in peace!

occasional poke at the bear,  who paces up and down in front of La Palette chain-smoking and just generally being a douche.  Shamez comes outside to observe the scuffle and stays long enough to make some oblique comment about “negros and plantations.”   Finally our journalist skulks back inside after demanding that we all 1) shut-up and 2) leave.  I hate to point out the obvious but we have a legitimate right to protest on the street and we don’t have to go home because you don’t like it.  You’d think a journalist would know that.  You’d also think a journalist or any other person possessing common sense would realize that if he weren’t out on the street arguing with us,  we wouldn’t be “talking.”  Cause and Effect – they don’t teach that in the Perez Hilton School of Journalism.

Some of us did have an exchange with a young woman who apparently works at La Palette.  She was overheard asking what many people ask – “Why horses?”  “Why not GMO foods?” etc. etc.  This young woman wasn’t offensive and did seem to be genuine,  even if not convinced based on her employer’s stance,  so I handed her an information sheet that explained that about 30% of horses slaughtered for food in Canada were racehorses who were likely to have received a compendium of drugs in their racing career.  Here’s what was on the list:

Table 1.  Therapeutic Medications Routinely Used and Identified as Necessary by the Veterinary Advisory Committee — (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium [RMTC] draft list of therapeutic medications, 2005) 

1. Acepromazine 17. Dipyrone  33. Omeprazole 
2. Albuterol 18. Flunixin  34. Pentoxifylline
3. Aminocaproic Acid 19. Fluprednisolone 35. Phenylbutazone
4. Atropine 20. Fluphenazine 36. Phenytoin
5. Beclomethasone 21. Furosemide 37. Prednisolone
6. Betamethasone 22. Glycopyrrolate  38. Prednisone
7. Boldenone 23. Guaifenesin 39. Procaine Penicillin
8. Butorphanol  24. Hydroxyzine 40. Pyrilamine
9. Cimetidine 25. Isoflupredone 41. Ranitidine
10. Clenbuterol 26. Isoxsuprine 42. Reserpine
11. Cromolyn 27. Ketoprofen 43. Stanozolol
12. Dantrolene 28. Lidocaine  44. Testosterone
13. Detomidine  29. Mepivacaine  45. Triamcinolone
14. Dexamethasone 30. Methocarbamol  46. Trichlomethiazide
15. Diazepam 31. Methylprednisolone
16. DMSO 32. Nandrolone 
 
Keep Calm and Stay Classy La Palette

Keep Calm and Stay Classy La Palette

The above list is not even inclusive – there are documented cases of racehorses being dosed with Viagra, cocaine,  cobra venom,  and Dermorphin (pharmacologically similar to morphine and derived from South American frogs).  Not only are these drugs an abuse of horses,  there is no way to confidently assert that these drugs and their metabolites do not enter the food chain.  Obviously,  the most commonly cited drug is Phenylbutazone.  On Pubmed,  there are over 8500 references to phenylbutazone,  so it has been frequently tested in case-controlled,  cohorted studies for many years.  It is a documented fact that even oxyphenbutazone residues,  the metabolite of bute,  can cause aplastic anemia,  and this fact is not in dispute.  Note to Shamez – slaughterhouse veterinarians and managers are in no way qualified to render an opinion whether horsemeat is safe to eat because they are not versed in toxicology or xenobiotics.

There is no incentive at this point in time to test bute any further since the FDA has removed approval for its use in humans,  it is no longer protected by patents,  if indeed it ever was,  and therefore,  no monetary value could be accrued to the patent-holder after roughly 40-50 years on the market.  We likely know as much as we ever will about the effects of bute on horses as well as humans.

Horses in Canada received at slaughterhouses are held for a maximum of 4 days only, and in mosts cases not even that,  so even if they were given bute the day before and this was not disclosed on the EID,  this is insufficient withdrawal time by even the most lax (Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis) standards.

In addition to ALL that, bute has been found in meat shipped to the EU, and has been withdrawn long AFTER it has reached the consumer, further evidence that EIDs and passporting do not work when you are trying to jury-rig a system of slaughtering and consuming non-food animals for food consumption.

Yes,  many horses are treated very poorly,  and as you can read,  they are hardly “organic.”  To regard them with reverence or sentiment is not simply a matter of emotional response.   I contend that horses merit better than to be mass slaughtered and served-up to grab-happy journalists who have not informed themselves as to history, civil liberties,  the right to freedom of association, and especially the sciences.

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Activism – The Measure Of Our Success

Standard

Written by: Heather Clemenceau ©

How can we gauge success in our activist efforts? Obviously,  there are the public successes,  as we’ve seen with the Dorian Ayache/Three Angels Farm case – where three private citizens provided evidence and filed a formal complaint with the USDA OfficeKeep Calm of the Inspector General that he had violated the 28 hour USDA regulations. The regulations prevent horses intended for slaughter from “being on a conveyance for transport” for over 28 hours. These are the regulations that exist and are intended to provide a minimum acceptable standard for transporting animals,  but never seem to be enforced.  As a result of this citizen effort,  Ayache has now been hit with fines for violation of the 28 hour rule,  which  amounts to $5,000 per horse, or $185,000 for 37 horses.  One can only speculate how long this operation has flouted the law and caused terrible suffering to horses while perpetuating this cruelty at the expense of the taxpayer.

Obviously,  the citizen activism in this example required a significant investment of time coupled with the element of risk – what might have happened had they been discovered? To end the mistreatment of horses,  and indeed all animals,  we must inform people that is is happening AND ensure that reporting in the news is fair,  accurate,  and given the priority it deserves.  Handing out leaflets, flyers, brochures and booklets in public is one way to have a powerful impact and reach people who might otherwise never know about these issues – this happens every week in front of La Palette in Toronto, as part of the ongoing protest against the restaurant’s decision to serve horsemeat.

Through this form of direct activism, advocates can expose masses of people to challenging new information and perspectives. However,  not everyone can make a commitment of several hours per day or week,  nor may they be able to travel long distances doing field-work.  But we can all help prevent injustices against horses (or people, the environment etc.) by taking action on the internet and ensuring that what is published and reported is accurate.  It’s a daily challenge.I can't believe we still have to protest horse slaughter

We know  is that success is not measured only in large-scale social reform but is also found in moments of connection — in building relationships and raising awareness,  in correcting information and assumptions that we know are wrong. We have seen the power of  social media coverage that has been devoted to the Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT), better known as “pink slime,” which can be chalked up almost entirely to the attention of countless activists across the United States. The phrase “pink slime” was first used by a former USDA microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein.  The current debate began after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver drew attention to the product. This ultimately pushed a few hundred thousand Americans to sign a petition online which demanded a complete stop to the use of pink slime in school food. AFA Foods, a leading American processor of ground beef, has filed for bankruptcy, citing the wave of negative media coverage surrounding their so-called “pink slime” product.

Haters Gonna HateWe need to take the lessons-learned from the “pink slime” debacle and transfer them to the horsemeat issues. There are certainly some corollaries – Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis has also proposed that horsemeat be used in schools.   The “pink slime” issue is an example of what happens when “clicktivists” are galvanized into action without the necessity of leaving their homes.  I have a few recent examples of how this works on the small-scale,  and how a small number of people,  even one person,  can elicit change and create awareness without a significant investment of time.

Bates County Horse Slaughter Poll Cancelled due to "ballot stuffing"

Bates County Horse Slaughter Poll Cancelled due to “ballot stuffing”

The Internet is at its best when communities develop based on a vigorous and open exchange of views. While robust disagreement is generally accepted (or perhaps just tolerated),  deceptive behaviour is not. The Bates County Blog (Missouri),  which normally features news articles such as “Employee of the Month”  and “Circuit Court News,” decided to host a poll about horse slaughter.  They probably never had so much traffic at their blog site after it was discovered by pro’s and anti’s!  The poll apparently passed cookie and IP information from the user’s computer to the polling application server-side as a way to ensure authentication,  but it was subject to abuse and multiple voting by some.

To that end,  a couple of anti-slaughter advocates decided to enlighten the editors of the Bates County blog by simply forwarding the postings from that “petulant pony “ blog,  where the author gloated (a little prematurely,  I might add) at the duplication of the votes by the pro-slaughters,  who deleted cookies,  used IP-concealing proxies and who knows what other “black hat” techniques in order to vote multiple times.  Clearly  the editors had no choice but to suspend the  poll after relaunching it late last week.   Of course,  the pro-slaughters will rationalize the closure of the poll any way they like, but the posting on the website speaks for itself – what are the chances that they will take a breather from the hysterical responses and read what was actually written? “We have investigated and found that the poll received multiple votes from the exact same locations,  indicating that the overall results will not be accurate.” Please take a moment to thank the editor for his honesty.  Spin it any way you like, pros,  because we know that you live in a world where verifiable facts are considered mere opinion.  It was a hot mess and you got caught confessing to stuffing the ballot box.  Pwned.

ActivismMy second example involves the Viandes Richelieu slaughter plant website.  Some months ago it was noticed that the  Massueville Quebec slaughterhouse had been taking liberties and running with the truth about the horses they slaughter.  Their stock of horses was,  according to them,  bred in beautiful surroundings and fed natural products.  Of course Richelieu is not a breeding farm, but a slaughterhouse,  so they don’t do any horse breeding,  much less in pastoral surroundings (you only have to look at a Google map image of the plant to see this).

To investigate their claims of organic horses frolicking in bountiful pastures, I wrote to Advertising Standards Canada,  a non-governmental body made up of advertisers, representatives from advertising agencies and the media, and consumers. It discourages false or misleading advertising by its members through codes of conduct. While they do breed horses, elk and bison at Bouvry in Alberta,  they certainly aren’t breeding horses at Richelieu,  and can hardly attest to what the horses have been fed in their previous incarnations as privately owned pets and performance animals.  I asked Advertising Standards Canada to help me understand exactly what “breeding” was going on in this “happy-horse” slaughterhouse,  and where they kept these horses that they bred specifically for slaughter,  you know,  the ones where they had evidence of traceability ::rollseyes::.  Here’s the original website:

Viande Richelieu False Advertising about horse slaughter

Not too long after sending the letter in 2011,  I received a response from ASC,  and I was advised that Viandes Richelieu had revamped their website to remove the misleading claims.  Perhaps it was as a result of the inquiry,  or perhaps they decided that their generally sucky website needed an update.  In any case,  a few minutes of writing likely lead to the removal of misleading language that has given life to the verbiage we hear over and over again from restauranteurs in Toronto serving horsemeat – “our horsemeat is organic.”  Here’s the response from Advertising Standards Canada:

Letter from Advertising Standards Canada/Les normes canadiennes de la publicité

Letter from Advertising Standards Canada/Les normes canadiennes de la publicité

OK,  so that’s one problem solved,  more on Richelieu and their new website later in the blog.  In our internet travels we also come across more examples of either accidental errors or deliberate attempts to mislead the public.  It’s important to take time to EDUCATE editors, bloggers,  and writers whenever we notice that they have either misunderstood information provided,  or have been deliberately mislead.  There seems to be a lot of this happening with Big-Ag E-zines for some reason.  Case in point – the US has not,  in any given year,  slaughtered anywhere near 9.2  million horses,  nor has the slaughter industry provided 400,000 jobs, as evidenced in this next example.  And what’s up with the comment about beef, pork, and poultry etc?

I wish someone would ask Charlie Stenholm if he has monsters under his bed,  what with all this fear-mongering.  It’s more than a touch unreasonable.   The people prepping these PR pieces should be giving a side-eye to these numbers,  because,  while I don’t live in the US,  they sure made me do a double-take.  400,000 people working in three slaughterhouses?  That would make horse slaughter a larger industry than health care!  Those numbers actually refer to the TOTAL number of living horses in the US and the TOTAL number of jobs in all equine related businesses.  So that leaves us to wonder – who’s responsible for these grievous errors?  Meat spokes-whore Charlie Stenholm?  The E-zines?  Or someone working in Charlie’s office?  Is it accidental or deliberate?  And how many more are out there waiting to be discovered?  And who might be reading all this bogus information and making decisions based on it?  We saw more than one example of these exact same numbers provided to other Pro-Ag websites,  and asked the editors of one such site to correct their information.  Looks like groups on the receiving-end of Charlie Stenholm’s PR machine need to run all his comments through FactCheck.org before publishing.  Just sayin’

To put that into perspective,  it took only a handful of activists who sought to correct this misnomer in a polite and diplomatic fashion,  and it was accepted and corrected.   The resulting post was a mere shadow of its formal self.

False Information Charlie Stenholm horse slaughter

And below is a very similar proclamation from another Big-Ag website,  that started out with almost the exact same wording as above,  but with the inaccurate information removed,  which pretty much eliminates half the text in the article.

False information Charlie Stenholm horse slaughter

And then,  there’s this,  for which I have few words.  But it’s the “Beat our Meat Trade News Daily,”  where you can read about masturbation, homophobia,  and America-bashing along with industry news and food safety issues.   I guess the editor must like Canadians though,  because we will slaughter anything that can’t outrun us.  I almost feel sexually harrassed just by reading this.  This is not a blog,  but a supposedly professional publication catering to several countries.

I’ve written to this wanker,  oh s’cuse me, editor before,  and in response to one polite email,  received 5 or 6 pervy responses back before blocking his ass.  Is this the way  professional editors govern themselves?  Can you not make reference to your trade without calling your readers wankers or bastards or referencing an act of sexual gratification?  And can you think of any reason why you’d want to read this E-zine in future or believe anything they publish?  Rather than complain about this,  I think it’s funnier and more damaging to the organization to leave it up.  No doubt someone other than myself will see fit to give it a well-deserved mocking.  Soppy wanker!

meat trade news daily - false information horse slaughter

So now we come back almost full-circle to Viandes Richelieu and the latest incarnation of their website.  Of course,  their new website is a whole new breed of offensive,  what with the recommendation that pregnant women eat their untraceable horsemeat – am I the only one that thinks that they are tiptoeing dangerously around giving health advice to pregnant women?  Pregnant women of all people should NEVER consume raw meat,  which is often how horsemeat is consumed.  When you think of it,  what other products can you buy at a grocery store that come with the recommendation that they should be eaten by pregnant women (aside from vitamins)?  And what’s with the comment that customers enjoy “thoroughbreds and half-breeds?”  Aren’t they supposed to be declining thoroughbreds?  And what’s the point of emphasizing any breed of horse?  Once they’re dis-assembled and converted into slabs of meat,  an appaloosa is indistinguishable from an arab.

Truly,  I think that the business of slaughtering horses is governed by people possessing a degree of intelligence that is far below the mean for the rest of the population.  We can’t by shy about going after these purveyors of dis-information.  So with the launch of their new website comes the re-launch of my old complaints about their providing misleading information.

new Viandes Richelieu site - questionable information

easy buttonWe do need to be careful that social media doesn’t foster “Clicktivism,” which may also create a “diffusion of responsibility.”  Many legitimate causes get lost in cyberspace because in this age of information, because someone is wrong on the internetwe sometimes feel that all we need to do to “get involved” is join a fan page, or “like” something our friend has posted. Certainly people are more informed, but what are they doing with that information? I have seen several on-line petitions that absolutely did achieve their end result – 100% verifiable success (not related to horses though),  but by signing on-line petitions or forwarding links we must always ask ourselves what exactly are we accomplishing? It’s sometimes misleading us because it lets us off the hook from actually doing something that we can see or measure directly.  Be authentic – be a real voice for horses.  Personally,  I always make comments elsewhere on the internet using my own name because I want pro-slaughter advocates to know that I am always “on” for horses.  It can be very gratifying to follow-up and  see what became of our on-line efforts,  which sometimes takes as little as one email or phone call. As long as someone is spouting bullshit about horse slaughter, someone else should point it out.  And I’d love to hear other examples!

You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable” – Marian Wright Edelman

Honk If You Like Honking! La Palette Horsemeat Protest – June 15th

Standard
La Palette Horsemeat Protest June 15th

La Palette Horsemeat Protest June 15th (Thanks as always to our vegan supporters)

Written by Heather Clemenceau

All artwork/photography copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only please)

Queen Street West  in front of La Palette –  where protesters against horsemeat have revived the lost art of honking.  Here,  tonight,  honking is no longer interpreted as something hostile, like a rude gesture, or a jab in the side in a crowded elevator. Tonight,  honkers in cars and on bicyclettes honk to reach out to us,  and show support.  We have determined, via direct scientific observation of the La Palette subjects,  that the management DOES NOT support the social compact between us and the public.  It does not seem to matter whether the honking is delivered via the delicate jangle of a bicycle bell,  the tentative toot of a car horn, or in a full blast of a transport truck,  they do not appreciate it.  In fact,  they roll the patio doors closed – on a sweltering hot June day – the patrons are being slowly cooked,  quite unlike the tartare!  La Palette co-owner Shamez enquired,  rather like a host asking his guests who have overstayed their welcome, when we might be leaving?  Normally,  when I want my guests to leave,  I start putting on the “showtunes,”  but I have no intention of alerting Shamez to this tactic (unless of course,  he happens to read about it first-hand here).

Queen Street West,  near La Palette

Queen Street West, near La Palette

The news this week is that we became aware that La Palette received a “conditional pass” by Toronto Public Health,  results of which are in the public domain and can be viewed as part of the “DineSafe” program. As a customer, the best thing to do is read up on any premises’ DineSafe rating before choosing to patronize any restaurant/grocery etc. Toronto Public Health publishes an Interactive map of every restaurant,  grocery,  cafe and take-out joint that’s been closed by Toronto Public Health since 2001. To sum up,  below are the findings for La Palette,  which led to the conditional pass:

  • INADEQUATE FOOD TEMPERATURE CONTROL (This is rated as “critical” by Toronto Public Health)
  • IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / UTENSILS /EQUIPMENT
  • IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF NON-FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / EQUIPMENT
  • IMPROPER STORAGE / REMOVAL OF WASTE
  • FAILURE TO PROTECT FOOD FROM CONTAMINATION
  • BY-LAW #574-2000 INFRACTIONS
la Palette Inspection by Toronto Public Health - page 1

La Palette Inspection by Toronto Public Health (click to jump to the official source document)

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.”

According to the inspection schedule,  It seems that La Palette could perhaps reduce the number of inspections required for their resto from three to two per year by eliminating raw food such as horse or venison tartare,  for example.  Eating raw meat is asking for a parasitic infestation –  it’s a fact that raw meat may contain harmful bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and E. coli that can cause food poisoning. These bacteria are destroyed when meat is correctly cooked.  Unless you’re Anthony Bourdain, who quite often treats his GI tract like a toxic-waste dump,  most people wouldn’t consider  eating raw meat and it’s not recommended for young children, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

When I think about eating raw meat,  I feel an eating disorder coming on.  Personally,  I don’t eat meat,  not only because of the cruelty to all meat-producing animals,  but because pro-slaughter advocates are very cavalier about drug toxicology,  about which they know NADA,  and Big Ag is equally as cavalier.  Pro-slaughter horse advocates whine about “wasting meat” but what they don’t understand is that euthanized horses (or any animal) which are composted or buried become part of the carbon cycle,  without which life on earth would cease.  Also,  having an education in biology,  I get a little panicky when I think that people,  perhaps unknowingly,  are eating food I’ve been taught to avoid.  It seems every day there’s another recall of tainted meat,  or in the case of horsemeat – a recall due to contamination by phenylbutazone.  It’s little wonder that health authorities go apoplectic when they hear stories of consumers willingly chowing down on raw meat. You can get really, really sick. Or worse. Cooking meat is a safety issue.

Sometimes people will say, “Show me a horse that’s got trichinosis,” or “Prove to me that anyone’s ever gotten sick eating horsemeat.”  I usually suggest those people go to Pubmed and start poking around,  where there is plenty of evidence.  Most disease is actually “idiopathic” – without known or attributable cause or mechanism.  Case in point,  if you ask a person who is suffering from cancer to define the cause of their disease,  in all likelihood,  neither they nor their oncologist will be able to precisely pinpoint a cause.  While scientists know that Parkinson’s disease is caused by cellular death,  they don’t yet know what causes that cellular death.  Hence Parkinson’s is another one (of many) examples of idiopathic disease.  But many of the Pubmed entries you can find about diseases associated with consuming horsemeat or meat in general are very precise in arriving at their conclusions – these case studies have pinpointed the cause and effect.  All you need is one serving to make you really ill – especially if you’re eating it raw.   Anthony Bourdain, who explains the philosophy or eating,  well,  pretty much anything that humans can catch and kill,  in his book Kitchen Confidential, “Good eating is all about risk. ”  Yes,  I suppose the way Bourdain eats,  that’s completely true  – it’s about as risky as a dalliance in organized crime.  I propose that we send Bourdain and other foodie freaks into the animal’s natural habitat,  and watch them cope with their natural defences – that’s an assumed risk that would be quite entertaining.  Even an animal experiencing its death throes is still capable of one final insult to the person attempting to eat it.

Toronto Public Health - La Palette earns a conditional pass

Toronto Public Health – La Palette earns a conditional pass

If we review the recent history of La Palette’s food inspections,  we can see that they have passed their inspections at least since July 2010.  We know that the management hasn’t changed,  so we can only speculate as to why they have only received a conditional pass in May 2012.  Shamez Amlani probably had no idea that La Palette’s  “Scandalicious” menu,  named for the “Winterlicious” dining festival,  would transition into such an ominous foreshadowing.  The proverbial heat is on – for food safety and for horses.  We will continue to respectfully request that La Palette remove horsemeat from its menu,  thereby reducing its impact on cruel animal slaughter practices and the possible unintended consequences of supplying their clientele with veterinary drug residues. But in the meantime,  we will do what protesters do – get the word out,  and continue to solicit support for our message by encouraging honking – we love it even if Shamez does not.

La Palette tweet - the heat is on

La Palette tweet – the heat is on

Information on Phenylbutazone contamination in horsemeat

Information on Phenylbutazone contamination in horsemeat

You Cannot Win An Argument With Facts

Standard
Not for Consumption

Not for Consumption

Written by Heather Clemenceau

All artwork copyrighted – use with permission only.

When you come across references to eating horsemeat, you probably think of the French, Mongols,  or Kazakhs.  “Oh yes,” you say, maybe attempting to hide a slight shudder “they eat horses don’t they?”  Despite an attempt by Italian politicians to ban horsemeat in Italy a few years ago,  certainly the Italians  need to be included when discussing countries and cultures that consume horses.  But I’m not singling out Italians for criticism;  the following observations could easily be applied to any Old World horse-eating culture,  especially a culture that relies on North American horses as a food source.

Today  I just returned from a small grocery shop in the Italian area of Toronto. It’s an exceptionally tiny 600 sq foot or so,  located in an older strip mall.  It’s probably been around since the 70s.  I peruse the comestibles at the front,  consisting of pasta,  rice,  and olive oil,  not really paying attention since I am focused on one area of the store only – the meat counter.  I know in advance that the proprietors are selling horse meat,  so I’m apprehensive about seeing it – a slaughtered family horse/riding steed/racehorse/retired school horse, dis-assembled in the display case.

Not for consumption

Not for consumption

There were two unwrapped slabs of meat, each one half the size of my torso.  A few days ago this was a living horse,  and probably amongst the 92% of all horses who are young and healthy at the time of slaughter.   I am wondering where it was living a few days ago.  My ruse for going into the shop was that  I was looking for meat for a BBQ, so I asked what meat I was looking at,  already knowing the answer.  I professed surprise and asked if they had any other meat, the man replied “no – we only sell horse because all other meats have bacteria.”

To be honest,  I wasn’t prepared for this answer.   I know,  as does most everyone else,  that bacteria cover every single surface that is not sterilized.  Raw meat should always be regarded as a likely source of pathogens – meat or poultry dishes are usually incriminated in more than 70% of incidents of foodborne illness.  The skin and gastrointestinal tract of any healthy animal carry a large population of microorganisms that can include a number of pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella or Campylobacter. These come primarily from the animal’s gut but can be transferred to the skin via faeces,  a transfer which certainly happens during the slaughter process – which is one of the main reasons people cook meat at high temperatures. Parasites, if present, can be found at a number of locations in the animal’s body.

So it’s impossible for me to resist the challenge of presenting him with the facts,  and I respond with as much diplomacy as I can muster.  “Sir,  this meat  (or any meat) could harbor parasites and microbes such as Trichinella,  Lysteria monocytogenes, Clostridium Perfringens, Staph aureus,”  etc. Emphatically he maintains otherwise – “No, horse does not.  All other meats do but horse does not.  You see chicken’s feet?  Bacteria can get in the feet.  Horses have hooves.  No bacteria.  Horses do not get sick.”   “But,”  I proclaim earnestly,  “every surface naturally has bacteria growing on it; horses don’t live in an hygienic environment,  and a slaughterhouse is not an hygienic environment either.”  I touch the display with my hand (the counter isn’t even cool – isn’t a meat counter supposed to be chilled?)  – “I’ve now transferred bacteria from my hand to the display case.”  He stares,  either not understanding or unrelenting.  Then I ask,  “what’s the difference between cows and goats and horses?  They all have hooves – what makes the horse’s hoof different,  and why does that make the horse sterile of bacteria?”  He shakes his head.  Now he starts to protectively remove the meat from the display case,  as if it’s in harms way by my touching the display case, but in doing so he proceeds to touch it with his BARE HANDS.  At this point it’s become rather like watching Penn and Teller get people worked up over their “dihydrogen monoxide”  skit. He realizes that I don’t believe him,  so my punishment is that he gives me the silent treatment.  Or perhaps it’s really the Evil Eye treatment.  I never get the chance to ask him where he got the supply,  which was my main reason for being there in the first place.

Not for Consumption

Not for Consumption

I’d encountered germ denialism before,  although not in a grocery store,  but this wasn’t quite the same thing.  The foundations of microbiology and infectious diseases are based on the work of Pasteur and Koch.  The resultant  Germ Theory of Disease is the single most important contribution to medical science and practice, ever.  But this man wasn’t denying the existence of bacteria – he believed in bacteria,  just not on horses though.  He’s not alone in his misunderstanding about horsemeat either – I found an article at Chow.com which incorrectly stated that horsemeat is free from tuberculosis and tapeworms.  While tuberculosis in horses is rare,  there are still 134 references to the disease in horses on the Pubmed database.  Tapeworm infection is dependent upon where a horse lives in North America;  any horse that IS free from tapeworms (or any of its resident parasites), will also provide you with a dish of meat tainted with veterinary residues.  Collies and other breeds of dogs are very sensitive to Ivermectim in wormers,  which is why horsemeat doesn’t even make good dog food.

So now I’m left wondering how our old-world proprietor could have arrived at his conclusion about horsemeat.  Does this belief have any basis in fact,  the way some urban legends start out legitimately,  at a camp fire or slumber party, and gain new momentum and life after-the-fact.   Enter Wikipedia,  to provide some enlightenment.   Apparently,  commercially prepared Salami which is often made with horsemeat,  is cured in warm, humid conditions to encourage growth of the bacteria involved in the fermentation process. Sugars are added as a food source for the bacteria during the curing process. Lactic acid is produced by the bacteria as a waste product.  The acid produced by the bacteria makes the meat an inhospitable environment for other, pathogenic bacteria.  While this is interesting,  it certainly doesn’t explain why this guy believes that horses are impervious to microbes.  Perhaps there is a biblical reference somewhere?  What’s also interesting is that the latin word for sausage is botulus,  suggesting an association with botulism,  despite the curing process.

Horsemeat certainly is not free of bacteria (nor is it free from veterinary drug residue) and it is irresponsible to promote horse meat consumption due to the appalling abuses of animals in the industry.  It wouldn’t have made any difference to his entrenched beliefs,  but I wish I could have shown the proprietor the first page of a Pubmed search for horsemeat,  (one of many) which details the findings of case-controlled and co-horted studies of meat contaminated by various sources.

First page of Pubmed,  itemizing various forms of horsemeat contamination by drugs,  parasites,  or bacteria

First page of Pubmed, itemizing various forms of horsemeat contamination by drugs, parasites, or bacteria

While the proprietor’s belief about horsemeat may be similar to many other old-world customs and beliefs that don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny,  it’s still dangerous to perpetuate myths.  Again,  this blog entry is not a post intended to unfairly criticize Italians or the Italian community;  when it comes down to ethnic groups and their food consumption practices,  I am completely “agnostic.”  The issue is solely about businesses or individuals who provide horsemeat to end-user consumers.  But we can’t  win every battle – we’re never going to convince every denier. You have to choose your battles.  Whether it’s this small example of superstition and lack of understanding of the natural world,  or the larger battle of horse slaughter in an indifferent world,  we must always use our best efforts at persuasion.  Sadly,  when dealing with entrenched ideas, we cannot win an argument with facts.

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada