Pinsker: This is probably not something that your eyes go to, but when I was flipping through the magazine as a first-time reader, what jumped out at me was the advertisements for a lot of sophisticated-looking equipment. It made me wonder how much work on a plant floor these days is actually done by humans.
Keefe: Yeah, that equipment is really, really sophisticated—I’m a little bit of a factory geek, and I think it’s really cool. Increasingly, they’re using robots that are laser-guided—there’s a company in Wisconsin and they do mostly portion-controlled pork chops, for hospitals and things like that, so it has to be exactly 3 ounces, and not 3.1 ounces, and it has to be x-amount thick, because it goes through a standardized cooking process. You freeze the pork cut that you get the chops from, and this laser knife goes through and cuts those things the exact same way every single time. And it does at least 25 of these in a minute. A human doing that would take much longer, and there would be a lot more disparity between the slices. So there’s a tremendous amount of automation.
This interview with the editor of the Chicago-based trade publication, Meatingplace, is pretty wild: come for the pork chop slicers and corn-dog assemblers, but stay for the line about how the meat industry just refuses to talk about the ethical quandaries of meat-eating for the tautological reasoning that it has never had to before.