Top Chef Canada is set to air an episode tonight on Food Network Canada serving up horse meat. The theme of the show is classic French cooking. The announcement that horse meat would be used in cooking on the show has stirred up outrage and controversy. A Facebook page, Boycott Top Chef – Protect the Horses, has even been created for viewers to voice their concerns and opinions.
Food Network Canada released a statement on their Facebook Page in response:
“Please be assured it is not our intention to offend our viewers. The challenge in this episode involves having the competitors create a truly authentic, traditional French menu. One of the most traditional French foods is horsemeat. Horsemeat is also considered a delicacy in many cultures around the world. While we understand that this content may not appeal to all viewers, Food Network Canada aims to engage a wide audience, embracing different food cultures in our programming.”
Though Canada plays a large part in the horse meat business, slaughtering over 90,000 horses a year, it is not widely consumed in the country. Though it isn’t the most popular dish, it is still possible to purchase horse meat at some butcher shops and restaurants in Quebec. Horse meat is considered very lean, low in fat and is popular in Japan, Brazil, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, but it is most popular in Belgium and France.
I for one am okay with all of this. I don’t see the problem with serving up horse meat. Just because we don’t consume horse meat widely in North America does not give us the right to say to another culture that what they are doing is immoral. All of the anti-horse slaughter activists that have been protesting the airing of this show are being hypocritical and close-minded. Though they don’t blatantly say it, I feel that they are clearly denigrating the French culture with their comments. Whatever happened to cultural diversity and respect for others beliefs? Guess it’s been thrown out the window with the rest of their common sense.
Is horse an acceptable meat course? Peter Smith, writer for Good Worldwide, LLC, stated that “Eating horse meat hasn’t always been a taboo in the United States. During World War II, it was sold as an alternative to meat rations, and, until at least 1954, a dedicated stall at Pike Place Market in Seattle sold horse meat.” Maybe we need to look back at our own history to remember where we came from and also remind ourselves that just because we are Americans, it doesn’t give us the right to bash other people’s cultural practices, no matter how much we don’t like it.