In a move we’re tempted to call the Lite version of the Reader’s Whole Hog Project (in which Mikes Sula and Gebert followed a mulefoot pig from birth to slaughter to special dinner at Blackbird) the Sun-Times’s Jennifer Olvera takes her husband and son to central Illinois’ Grazin’ Acres, where they pick out a terrified cow, look her in the eye, and say “I’m going to eat you, and I’m sorry.” It goes downhill from there.
We applaud the food-ethics testicular fortitude that drives folks like Olvera to face down their dinner, but this particular meet-your-meat experience is awfully sanitized. After her family’s day petting the cows in the fields and talking about farming with Grazin’ Acres’ proprietors, Olvera returns to watch her cow get broken down — skipping the cattle slaughter entirely (to be fair she does watch a goat meet its end, but there’s a thousand-pound difference between those experiences). And we’re a little disappointed by the final payoff: after all the emotional investment in her cow’s life (and death), Olvera’s first bite takes the form of “a Cheddar-stuffed, bacon-topped burger” — can she even taste the meat underneath all those loud-flavored accoutrements? At least give the cow credit by honoring it with a steak.