Hugo Desnoyer is France’s most famous butcher, supplier to the stars and the best restaurants in Paris. Queues form outside his shop every morning, and customers regularly spend thousands of euros on his top quality meat. He is known for having transformed the image of butcher from ruffian to superstar, rehabilitating the coarse tradesman with a blood-stained apron brandishing a knife into a connoisseur and advisor to France’s elite. He is famed as an author and expert in the ingredients of haute cuisine, and as a keen promoter of animal welfare.
Desnoyer selects and regularly visits the farms which rear his animals and the abattoirs where they are slaughtered. People buy his meat because he ensures the animals are played classical music to relax them in the moments preceding slaughter. It is the reason for this measure that is so intriguing. He claims that the meat tastes completely different if the animal was anxious or experiencing distress before its death, saying, “The animals must never be under stress. If they are, the meat will be full of knots and saturated with an acidic taste. Even the best quality animal will produce nothing worth eating if it is under stress.”
Studies around the world have proven that music reduces stress in animals. It not only improves meat quality, it increases milk yield in cows, and on some farms in Italy buffalos listen to Mozart three times a day to help them produce better mozzarella milk. Playing classical music in tube stations and in tough areas reduces crime. It helps premature babies thrive and reduces road rage to such an extent that the German transport minister issued an Adagio in the Automobile CD to reduce aggressive driving on the country’s autobahns.
What has this got to do with staying ageless?
The message from farming is clear : what stress does to animals, it also does to us. Stress management techniques, both in our external actions and in directing our thoughts, are crucial in promoting and maintaining health.