The current issue of Gourmet Magazine has an interesting article on the conditions of Kobe cattle in Japan. Chef Raymond Blanc went looking in Japan and found that where the assumption is that these premium priced animals are massaged and treated well in actuality according to the article they are crated and remain mostly immobilized in their own feces. They are force-fed beer to restart their faltering digestive system from immobility.
They also admit to the obvious comparison to veal calves and the major
difference that while the calf suffers for only roughly 6 months Kobe
cattle stay this way for 3 years. In that time they suffer from joint
pain and for that reason they get "massaged" to get them to move to
market. In a country that strives for balance this industry seems to be
out of balance.
The article was a surprise but also made the point that in America
Waygu cattle are treated well. The cattle are not isolated. They remain
in the herd. While they aren’t as tender as the immobilized Kobe they
are just as beefy. They are largely free-ranging and you’re not paying
to ship them across oceans.
While some say Kobe tastes better, doesn’t the idea of any animal being treated poorly leave a bad taste in your mouth…?
Buy and ask for American Waygu beef.
Just my takeaway.