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Monday, 16 August 2010 10:41

Cool Squared

Written by  Baxter Black, DVM
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COOL. Country of Origin Labeling.

In the grocery store this new law now means that you will be allowed to purchase beef (and other meat) that is guaranteed to be born and raised in the United States.

Will you?

Is that a consideration when you go to buy a car? A television set? A pair of boots? A tool? A tractor? Strawberries? Wine? Or gasoline? (Sorry, this last one was a joke!)

Should you? If you are in a business that sells and manufactures an American product, then you certainly hope the rest of the country prefers to buy something “Made in America.” And, in these hard economic times, buying American will benefit your neighbor’s job security as well.

Granted, origin is not always clear. For instance, Toyota’s headquarters is in Tokyo. It’s listed on the Japanese stock exchange. It is a Japanese company. They are called foreign cars. Yet they have a manufacturing plant in Alabama! Ford Motor Co.'s headquarters is in Dearborn, Michigan. It is on the New York Stock Exchange. Henry Ford invented it! Yet the Ford F150 pickup is built in Mexico!

Can both or either be labeled American under COOL regulations? I suspect there will eventually have to be ‘variations’ of COOL. One of the difficulties implementing the ‘American Label’ on beef, for example, is that packing houses process Mexican cattle that come into Texas feedlots, and use beef shipped to their plant in refrigerated trucks from packing houses in Canada.

In one days’ processing it is common to hang these carcasses side by side, for ground beef to be co-mingled and the specific origin of each to be lost. Maybe we could establish categories like, Pure American Cool, Quasi American Cool or Possibly American Cool. It would depend on the percentage of U.S. raised beef in the mix. Other factors to be considered would be the amount of Canadian grain in the ration, the number of Mexican cowboys on the ranch, or the presence of Irish whiskey behind the seat of the feedlot manager's pick-up! A lot of details remain to be worked out.

There was a restaurant in Arkansas that offered squirrel stew. It was quite popular and was always crowded. One customer inquired of the owner how they could find so many squirrels?

“Well,” said the owner, “We do have to cut it with a little mule meat. But,” he said, “only ten percent.”

“Really,” said the customer. “I guess that’s fair.”

“Yup,” said the owner, “One mule for every ten squirrels!”

But I wonder, are they American squirrels?

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