Published: November 3, 2003
LOCAL NEWS: Rockford Register Star
Support? Yes, but we’ll pass on meal
— Melissa Birks
Even Americans who support the right of slaughterhouses to turn horses into meals say they’ve never eaten the product — and never would.

Chalk it up to our culture, but not the culture of millions of others around the world. According to the Equine Protection Network, since 1980, more than 4 million American horses have been sold for meat in France, Belgium and Japan.

Terri Morrison, a Philadelphia-based “interculturalist,” writes in Global Business Basics that, in the history of the United States, Americans depended on horses to push back the frontier.

The animal was too valuable to eat. Europe, on the other hand, had an abundance of horses every time large armies demobilized.

“If you look at China, the reason they eat bats or scorpions or monkey brains is not because they decided ‘Gee, let’s go out and get some exotic game.’ They have eaten it for thousands of years,” Morrison said in a phone interview.

“If a culture reveres its ancestors, they know their great-great-grandparents looked at any and all food sources. These are a part of the cultural aspect that goes back thousands of years.”

Opponents insist that they are not out to change anyone’s culture.

“If the French and Belgians want to eat their horses, go ahead. Don’t eat ours,” said Cathleen Doyle, founder of HoofPAC, which organized a successful California referendum to prohibit the slaughter or export of horses for human consumption.

So what does horse meat taste like? Ask around and two things become clear:

* One, you can get an answer but, if you’re talking to an American, it’s always secondhand. “From what I’ve read,” “From what I’ve heard,” “I was in France, and they told me.”

* Two, horse meat tastes like beef, only sweeter. That’s because horses’ athletic muscles store more sugar than cows’ muscles, said Sheryl King, director of Equine Studies at Southern Illinois University.

Billboard denounces practice
Support? Yes, but we’ll pass on meal

John F. Elbers II/Rockford Register Star
The Pennsylvania-based Equine Protection Network received donations to erect 18 of these billboards around the nation. This one is located on westbound East Riverside Drive in Loves Park. Another is in Woodstock.