I picked this up from Stan's blog.
There's a piece in the Washington Post about using of electronic sensors to taste food and drink.
A Japanese group, for example, has developed a "Health and Food Advice" robot that can identify and distingush among various wines, cheeses, and breads. (And apparently warn its owners not to eat unhealthy food. In which case, I'm not interested. The damn thing probably hates pate.) Presumably it's possible to create a device that can also "taste" and identify flavors in beer.
Anyway, apparently robotic devices some American slaughterhouses are testing these electronic devices, using them to sort and grade sides of beef in accordance with federal standards.
I need to think about this some more, but that's fascinating. The meatpacking industry serves up some of the nation's most unpleasant jobs -- there's a reason illegal immigrants end up there; no one else wants these jobs, which are low-paying, foul, and dangerous -- but it's also the kind of work that is hard to mechanize.
If packinghouse owners could use sensors to grade meat, or even distinguish tainted from safe meat, well, that's probably a good thing. Maybe the brains behind these "robots" could also figure out how to slaughter and butcher cattle and pigs, eliminating human labor altogether.
Yes, okay, the economy needs jobs. But packinghouse work is truly the bottom of the employment ladder.
People only work in packinghouses when there's no alternative.
On the other hand, well, taking humans out of the equation only adds to the already vast distance between we Americans and our food. Soooooo........ maybe not so good.
As I say, I need to think about it. But hey, I'm writing a book about the history of meat in America. I might as well keep thinking about it. If I have any brilliant insight, I'll pass it along.