A lot of photojournalists joke that poverty and drastic situations are easy to make good stories in, because they are so dramatic and emotions are so high. Well, I find that it's pretty hard to make bad pictures with a ton of blood, too.
Caution: The following images may be found graphic by some viewers or individuals who just ate a hamburger.
I visited a beef slaughterhouse on Wednesday in Aarhus. I initially started this story with the intent of doing a story about halal meat production. Halal is a Muslim standard for food, and Muslims who follow the halal standard do not eat pork, drink alcohol and their meat must be processed in a particular way.
Halal meat production has been a hot topic lately, especially in European countries. Many individuals believe halal to be inhumane to animals, as true halal, stated in the sacred text, includes the slitting of an animal's throat by a trained Muslim until it bleeds to death.
I found, however, that halal that is processed today does not follow those standards, as it would be inhumane. In the slaughterhouse I visited, which will go unnamed due to an agreement with my very kind sources, the halal process was only minimally different than the regular beef processed. All animals are killed with a captive bolt pistol, and the animals that will be halal processed (typically only steers) have a special type of throat slit to let the blood drain from the body after the fact, virtually unrecognizable from the other type of slit that is performed on all other produced beef.
The story began at a local butcher at Bazar Vest in Brabrand, but because many of the images made there were of lamb meat, I found that the beef production and the butcher did not have a sort of cohesiveness. I may go to a lamb slaughterhouse sometime later, as I have a contact, but I do promise to blog my butcher photos later in the week.
This story is not meant to highlight the "inhumanity" of cow slaughter or show what's wrong with beef production. I do not believe "meat is murder" or that people should not eat meat. There was nothing wrong with the beef produced at this slaughterhouse or the way the animals were treated.
I actually believe there is too much of a disconnect with the meat we eat today. We go throughout the supermarket and pick up our chicken breasts and ground beef, packaged products that are completely unrecognizable from the animal it came from. We don't even bother to think about what we are actually eating.
I'm not a vegetarian, nor a vegan, nor an animal right's activist, but I think that we should appreciate the animals that we eat and I found a connection with these animals in this slaughterhouse. I guess you could say that by putting myself through the very bloody process, I appreciated them more.
Surprisingly, the slaughterhouse did not bother me much. My family actually used to raise cattle and it would have been incredibly naive of me to assume that when they went away and didn't come back, I couldn't find them in a supermarket later.
Mostly, I want my story to simply represent the goings-on in a slaughterhouse. Some of the images are dramatic, but not intentionally — it is just what was there. I do not want to pretend that slaughterhouses do not have blood, because there's a lot of it — but I do not want this to seem like I think meat consumption is wrong. This slaughterhouse just is what it is, and that's how I tried to portray it. You may let me know if you think otherwise. The individuals at the slaughterhouse were incredibly helpful, kind human beings and I thank them for letting me spend a day on the job with them, as this is something I could never have done in America.
The final edit for my story, my first story for DMJX, can be found below.
All photographs copyright Katie Currid 2011.