My wife is Korean. She’s had dog meat
about once in her life (and hated it). It’s hardly mainstream. She says
people eat it because they believe it boosts energy. Her theory is that the
meat has such a rich taste that it must be cooked with numerous vegetables,
spices and herbs to make it edible, and it is these that boost the energy,
not the meat itself.
Why doesn’t the ABC investigate the
massive infrastructure that undergirds the pet industry in Australia and
other Western countries? In a world where millions of people are sick and
starving, pharmaceutical companies sink enormous resources into the
continual development of new, improved pet-care products.
Here in Melbourne we live in a well-off
suburb, with vet clinics all around. It’s a huge industry. Our own vet moved
just last month to lavish new premises. It cost us $168 six weeks ago when
we took our golden retriever to him for her annual check-up, injection and
flea treatment. Our oldest boy loves animals and would like to become a vet,
but it’s as hard to get into a vet’s course at university as to enter
medical school, so lucrative is this business.
Friends own a lovely sheltie which caught
a virus earlier this year and became seriously ill. It was rushed to a
clinic and placed on a drip for 10 days before recovering. The bill was
$1,200. These people are good Christians who strive to raise their kids to
be sacrificial in working to help the suffering of the world. But what do
you do when the clinic phones every day and asks for instructions on whether
to keep the dog on the drip and your daughter is so sick with worry that the
dog might die that she can hardly eat or go to school? My friends are
probably still in conflict.
Growing up in Korea, my wife always had a
dog as a pet. But if it got sick the expectation was that it would probably
die. You didn’t take it to the vet. Sometimes my wife would come home from
school and find that her dog had disappeared. It was sick, and her father
had somehow disposed of it. She’d cry for a few days, and then get another
dog. That was life.
But strange Asian eating habits are
always good for a laugh and a bit of shock-horror in the Western media. When
I was a freelance journalist in Tokyo I always knew that I could sell a
report on the (very few) restaurants that sold grilled snake and raw
horsemeat and turtle blood and simmered grasshoppers and barbecued sparrows.
I stopped writing the stories because I felt that newspapers just published
them in order to poke fun at the Japanese, and I didn’t want to be part of
that. These restaurants were not at all part of mainstream Japanese life.
Most Japanese have never eaten those dishes.
The average Australian knows next to
nothing about life in South Korea (one of our biggest trading partners). The
ABC would serve its viewers better if it devoted its resources to stories
that helped us towards a better understanding of the country.