John_O's blog

2009 Year of Activism in Review - Thankyou!

Our Year of Activism - 2009 - constituted a very busy period of consciousness raising actions which sought to discuss, debate and develop the The Meat Licence Proposal towards the enactment of a collaboratively developed Meat Licencing law.


In the blood?

"Pat Blood & Partners" - local Liverpool firm.

Interesting to see animals being given fairer status appraisal here - being classed as 'partners' in the business.  (And pictured below being given a 'piggy-back!')

pat blood

Sick Pigs and Meat Mousse

Recent trip to Newcastle, saw this helpful grafitti attempting to limit the spread of (so-called) Swine Flu.  In case you are worried, symptoms are outlined below.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Also, in large shopping precinct, big promotion by Edible Ltd. - company responsible for bringing Ostrich Egg Omlette and Crocodile Thai Curry to the attention of the UK consumer.

Moose Paté - ethically sourced of course!

ISEA2009 - Design Probes

In his ISEA2009 keynote, Clive Van Heerden discussed the Philips 'Design Probes' project where, in order to downgrade the emphasis on technologies, the focus is on future lifestyles and applications.  The 'Probes,' which are a publicised outcome of the research, act as provocations, echo-soundings and sanity tests - looking for an honest reaction - to indicate potential future directions for the Philips Corporation.

One such probe is the 'LIVING ROOM FARM' (above.) Van Heerden emphasised the point that these are much more than mere design concepts - the technology involved may not be readily available but this is far from 'pie in the sky'...

3 aims for the probes are:

  • to push a socio-cultural button
  • push the creative element
  • and, question the technological area

"Could you sustain 5000 calories in a biosphere in a high rise?" - Biosphere Home Farming a feasibility? It would certainly reduce 'food miles' but what about safety? Philips Design Probes attempted to envisage a closed loop system using only natural processes - the only by-product being oxygen.

 Early research process for the design probes is non-linear, instead focussing on the terrain eg: Combinations of (cultural, economic, technological, environmental, political) factors which may influence future lifestyles (2020, 2030 etc.) are examined and weak signals are identified (small news articles, overheard conversations, contrary commentaries.)

Weak signals leading to LIVING ROOM FARM were news reports of 'food riots,' a BBC2 documentary focussing on an impending global food shortage and a supermarket in London setting a 10kg limit on rice.

Philips, with their heritage of developing 'labour-saving devices' for the domestic kitchen seemed frustrated at an apparent technological plateau - "we're still using electric motors to beat eggs". Further examples discussed also came from the current trend of people 'WANTING TO KNOW WHERE THEIR FOOD COMES FROM.'

Design Probes came up with the 'DIAGNOSTIC KITCHEN' for "the consumer who is more interested in the CONTENTS of the pan rather than whether it will stick to it." The problem is - what is a healthy diet for one person may not be for another - with differing metabolisms, allergies, lifestyles etc.

The DIAGNOSTIC WAND would look at the individual's specific diagnostic profile - prompting a suitable menu. This information could then be communicated to a PHILIPS FOOD PRINTER ("when molecular gastronomy becomes an everyday phenomena"...)


Ultimately, Philips Design Probes are attempting to second guess the consumer, and gain an insight into how a culture is changing.

Whatever your future 'need,' - REST ASSURED - Philips (one amongst a many multinational consumer technology giants) will be there waiting with the very product to satisfy that NEED.

Change Is Here

Killing Time?

One crucial obstacle to the realisation of The Meat Licence Proposal is the sheer logistical nightmare of allowing the time to facilitate individuals in obtaining their licence - the Belgian City of Ghent has put forward a model that we could learn from:

BBC World News article by Chris Mason:

"The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.

Starting this week there will be a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors will opt for vegetarian meals.

Ghent means to recognise the impact of livestock on the environment.

The UN says livestock is responsible for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, hence Ghent's declaration of a weekly "veggie day".  Public officials and politicians will be the first to give up meat for a day." (Read More).

It is interesting that it is politicians and public officials who are taking the lead - tasting their own medicine.

Could it be that, UK district councils put one day a week aside, for citizens to consider their relationship to meat consumption?

(thanks to Mike B.)

*Inaugural Public Meeting*

The Inaugural Public Meeting of The Meat Licence Proposal will take place, 12pm prompt, on Saturday 18th of April 2009 at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Wood Street, Liverpool. 

The discussion is being webcast between 12pm and 1pm.

More info:

2009 - Year of Activism

The Meat Licence Proposal launched "2009 - Year of Activism" with a special invitation dinner, facilitated by Metal as part of their AGA Dinner programme, at Metal House, Liverpool.

The event was an exclusive opportunity, for the individuals invited, to "chew over" the simple premise of The Meat Licence Proposal:

People who are comfortable with eating meat, should be equally comfortable with killing animals.

A key question raised over the course of the dinner was:

What constitutes 'real engagement with the act of killing?'

Over the course of 2009, we will be endeavoring to share The Meat Licence Proposal with the broader public - and welcome your suggestions regarding appropriate ways to do this.

End User Licencing - Contracts?

At the point of installing a new piece of software, we are routinely asked if we 'agree' or 'disagree' with the terms of licence.

How many of us really read and engage with these terms?

Should a similar End User Licence be introduced at points of meat consumption? -

"I am comfortable with killing animals and, if required by law, I am willing to kill animals."

A kind of "Meat Licence Lite?"

Could you kill your own dinner?

"Kill it, Cook it, Eat it" is a series being shown on BBC 3 (episode 3 tonight ) which takes a new slant on the traditional TV cooking show. In each episode a group of individuals are taken through the process of slaughtering specific animals and preparing them for consumption.

The programme provides a useful grounding in some of the issues surrounding the slaughter of animals in the UK.

The programme seems also to illustrates some recent trends:

  1. Regarding meat, UK Consumers feel a "disconnect" between product and process, and would welcome reassurance.
  2. UK Consumers have ethical concerns about the provenance of their food.

The Meat Licence Proposal is seeking to address the "disconnect" between product and process by legally compelling ALL individuals to directly engage with the act of killing implicit in all meat products.

Are viewers of "Kill it, cook it, Eat it" engaging with the act of killing?

(Post prompted by Andy and James.)