Kobe Beef: A Case Study in Consumer Behavior



Feb 11, 2015

Business, Education

Kobe Beef: A Case Study in Consumer Behavior

What gives Kobe beef its unique flavor? It’s said that the cattle are fattened up with beer and given daily massages to keep their meat tender. Students on the Spring 2015 Semester at Sea voyage pay a visit to a cattle farm in the mountains of Kobe, Japan to dispel some of the myths about Kobe beef and learn where it gets its global reputation as a high quality product.


One Comment

  1. Cece
    February 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    This is an excellently produced video.
    However I am alarmed by the comments made by the young students. While it seems to be clear that the course of study is teaching them about seeing through the marketing misconceptions surrounding the Kobe beef label, it is not teaching them to see through important facts about the eating of animal foods itself. First, it is obvious that the cows are on a concrete floor which is covered in their own excrement. It is clear that they are confined in small pens, and given grain to eat. The students seem to be concerned with how this is different from the marketing image as far as the product is concerned, they do not seem to care about how the animals themselves experiencetheir lives. Their education is teaching them to be ignorant about the value of a life. In other words, it is teaching them that the Kobe cows are commodities to be murdered and enjoyed. I think it is important that the students learn to see beyond the human delusion that we can enslave, selectively breed, torture and murder other animals for our enjoyment.
    They are surprised that the Kobe facility is merely a factory farm; but they ought to be shocked that we are using other lives in this way.
    If you still hold on to the idea that the earth and its inhabitants are put here for humans to use, to commodify, and ‘market,’ then consider what animal agriculture is doing for the planet. Animal agriculture is one of the main factors in the devastation of the planet and the climate change catastrophe that will soon be upon us. Perhaps the course should cover this material, because it is going to be more important in the lives of these young students than any marketing principles they learn. Here are some facts that the students should be taught.
    Animal agriculture’s “ecological impact is on par with the most destructive of industries, including mining and electricity generation, and its role in causing global warming exceeds that of even transportation and oil production.” (Meatonomics, David Simon)

    “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet
    “For example, Japan greatly benefits from importing grain for raising meat, because Brazil provides the land, water and nutrients to raise the grain without accounting for the true environmental cost that is incurred.” https://woods.stanford.edu/environmental-venture-projects/consequences-increased-global-meat-consumption-global-environment

    True cost of a quarter pound beef burger: “It requires fifty-five square feet of rainforest to produce that much meat, so what is the cost of the rainforest to produce that much meat, so what is the cost of the rainforest loss and all the vegetation, oxygen, and carbon dioxide disruption, as well as the biodiversity lost with it, and why wasn’t that accounted for..? In many cases, it requires over 1,200 gallons of water to product just one-quarter pound of edible muscle tissue from a cow. If that water comes from a source such as the Ogallala aquifer, which much of your meat does, it will never be replaced in our lifetime, so what is the real cost of that 1,200 gallons that you just used?” (Comfortably Unaware, Richard Openlander)
    “One of the biggest factors to achieving a goal of a two degree Celsius increase by the year 2050 (an increase that will avoid global catastrophe)? Diet. Specifically, reducing the consumption of meat from ruminant animals (which include livestock like cows and sheep).” http://natmonitor.com/2015/01/28/uk-govt-give-up-steaks-and-gyros-to-stop-global-warming/

    The quotes and references can continue. I hope I have made my points. First, I hope this teacher or another will open the students’ eyes to the profound fact that just because we have enslaved animals for thousands of years, it doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do. To think that animals were put on this planet for humans to exploit is extreme arrogance and ignorance. If that fact is still not patently obvious, then refer to the enormous amounts of evidence that animal agriculture is the leading cause of global environmental destruction and climate change.

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