If a civilization can be measured based on how it treats its animals, what are we to make of one that slaughters them on factory farms and then sells their meat in a vending machine? Evidence of a troubling disconnect between consumers and their food sources is nothing new, but never before has purchasing meat been made so mindlessly simple. Thanks to the 'Smart Butcher' meat-dispensing vending machine, it's now even easier to delude oneself into thinking that steaks, sausages, and pork chops come from the same magical place that brings us Mountain Dew and Skittles.
According to Birmingham's CBS News 42, an Alabama business has begun marketing the Smart Butcher to local convenience stores as a way of cutting out any human interaction from the process of acquiring meat. The refrigerated vending machine offers a variety of beef and pork cuts for around $6. That's right, just insert some cash or your debit card and -- presto! -- meat.
Apparently, people have really taken to buying their steaks this way, despite the obvious concerns regarding the potential for a food poisoning outbreak.
Considering just how disconnected we our with our food sources, it's really not so surprising that people would be willing to buy meat from a machine, but maybe it should be. Regardless of your dietary preferences, it seems important that we always keep in mind that a steak comes from a cow and a pork chop comes from a pig, lest we forget meat products cost something more than money: a life. At the very least, the blood on a 'real' butcher's apron reminds us of this; the Smart Butcher's plastic, sterile (hopefully) viewing windows suggests something altogether different.
Interestingly, this isn't even the first meat-dispensing machine. Last year, we were shocked to learn of vending machines in China where hungry commuters could purchase live crabs for a quick, convenient meal. The Smart Butcher's products are quite different from that cruelty-tinged device to be certain; someone else kills the animal and we're invited not to think about it.