All is fair in love and veal

It may all seem like harmless fun until you try and explain it to a foreigner.

by Robert Nanninga

an someone please explain to me why we refer to farm animals as livestock. With such a distinction, one would expect to find deadstock somewhere. I understand that they are, in fact, living. But come on, what type of life do they really have? What's wrong with calling them exactly what they are: future food. Another great term that actually works for the ethically challenged is "flesh-producing bio-machines."

Last week I had the dubious pleasure of attending the Del Mar Fair, twice. The first opportunity was due to the Lilith Fair. In keeping with the venue thousands of San Diegans lined up, like sheep to the slaughter, to partake in a concert featuring an impressive offering of women in rock. Not to mention five dollar beers.

Another disappointment was the weirdness being handed to everyone as they entered the gate. Biore, a major sponsor of the Lilith fair, was passing out postcards with a Pore Perfect deep cleansing strip attached to the back. On the front of the card was a photo of factory smokestacks spewing pollutants into the air. The caption on this charming piece of marketing read: nose pore magnified 1,000x. If all these cards weren't being immediately thrown away, it would have been amusing. Some concert-goers didn't even wait to find a trash can before discarding them. Needless to say, I was very disappointed. But then again, women can be just as inconsiderate as men.

My second trip to the fair was on behalf of an Austrian house guest. It was my intent to dazzle her with a small slice of Americana. I failed. Totally unimpressed, she wondered what all the fuss was about. Wanting to provide her with the full experience, our first stop was the Fun Zone. To my dismay, she refused to go on any of the rides that go upside down, stating that they made her sick. I told her that was the best part, the closer you got to losing your lunch the better. I couldn't even get her on the Tilt O' Whirl. At the dime toss, I spent two bucks trying to win her a South Park shot glass, winning a stupid juice glass instead. At the ping pong ball toss, I spent 10 dollars. Rikki won a hat with a skull on the front. I walked away with a similar hat, except instead of a skull this one featured the equally frightening Teletubbies.

Leaving this area, and being the sadist I am, I then tried to convince her to eat some Fair food. Again, using the same excuse she used in the Fun Zone, she declined. I guess Austrians have this thing about digesting grease, go figure. Popping over to the landscape area, she actually seemed to enjoy herself. She was impressed by the designs of local landscapers. However, this was ruined by a gross monstrosity which only could have been created by the Ecke people. Completely smothered in white flocking, the exhibit featured a host of suffocating plants offset by a cluster of poinsettias in a mock greenhouse. YUCK! It's a good thing I hadn't eaten.

Speaking of eating, next we went over to the torture barns. The petting zoo was overrun by people, with both goats and pigs halfheartedly vying for twigs masquerading as food. And, why the rabbits were lying on top of the guinea pigs I'm not sure.

Next we went to check out the cattle. First in the house of horrors was a small enclosure housing four calfs. Not more than a week old these calfs were accompanied by a sign that informed us that these babies were taken from their mothers after twelve hours so that their milk would serve the higher purpose of serving humans. The activist in me wanted to liberate these unfortunate creatures. But I realized that I was out numbered. I'm sure it would only take six Future Farmers to wrestle me to the ground. As depression began to set in we ventured into the cattle barns. Here all animals were chained to the wall, their leashes being no longer than a foot long. These animals couldn't look us in the eyes if they wanted to. Above the stalls were charts telling how the animals are chopped in to bits, and how the parts are used. You would be surprised by all the uses for cow bones. One of the barns featured only veal calfs. Being groomed for show, some of these animals would win a ribbon before they were led to slaughter. How is that for living?

After watching caged pigs gnaw on their chain link enclosure, Rikki asked if she could experience Southern California without so much cruelty. Taking her cue, we made our way to Cardiff to drink Margaritas as the sun set. This was the San Diego I want my friends to remember, not the barbaric chaos known as the Del Mar Fair.

  Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan and an active member of the Green and environmental communities. His writings appear weekly in the Coast Times.