retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MSNBC.com carries a story from the Discovery Channel sure to inflame passions among animal rights activists, saying that there new studies concluding that lobsters and crabs do feel pain, which is something of a shift in scientific knowledge.

According to the story, “crustaceans possess ‘a suitable central nervous system and receptors.’ They learn to avoid a negative stimulus after a potentially painful experience. They also engage in protective reactions, such as limping and rubbing, after being hurt. Physiological changes, including release of adrenal-like hormones, also occur when pain or stress is suspected. And the animals make future decisions based on past likely painful events.

“If crabs are given medicine — anesthetics or analgesics — they appear to feel relieved, showing fewer responses to negative stimuli. And finally, the researchers wrote, crustaceans possess ‘high cognitive ability and sentience’.”

KC's View:
When I saw this story, all I could think of was a long-forgotten and not very good Jack Lemmon movie called “That’s Life,” in which he says that if you want to have a better tasting lobster, the way to do it is to cook it in wine, not water…if I recall correctly, he suggests putting the lobster into a pot filled with room temperature wine, and then slowly raising the temperature to boiling. The lobster dies, he says, but it dies happy and tastes better.

Which sounds reasonable to me.

I want my crustaceans to be treated humanely, but I’m not going to stop eating them. Because as a famous poet and troubadour once sang, “I’m living on things that excite me, be they pastries, lobsters or love…”