how do i talk to lemonscarlet?

From J-Do:

… what I am increasingly interested in is stuff like where my food comes from, the effect it has on the environment, economy and what happened to the animal I am eating if we are talking about meat.

I am not a vegetarian but I often think that is probably the easiest way to avoid buying into the things that bother me – mistreatment of animals, weird chemicals or hormones injected into the animal and the depletion of our natural resources due to the amount of water (for the animals and for the food THEY eat) used up and also amount of fuel used to get said food from wherever point A is to point B (being my mouth.)

When I hear people say stuff like this, it excites me almost as much as if I were to hear them say, “I have been thinking about reading up on Jesus Christ,” or something.

It’s just that I had that pig slaughtered, so I think I know everything. It’s just that it’s rare – although the scales are tipping – to have people interested in consumption — at least beyond how it affects the wallet, right? We would rather not believe that our chicken dinner was once alive and running around. And as a result we’re MISSING such a huge part of the worship that a ‘meal’ should be — and a meal should BE something because it represents sacrifice — probably at least of an animal’s life — and likely countless hours of human labor and travel and packaging and warehouses and big box grocer’s and etc.

Have you read Omnivore’s Dilemma? That’s a good one. Also, I’ve heard about, but have yet to check out a book called Plenty, about a couple who ate locally for one year, which is all the rage these days.

Without preaching too much, I feel like I have a unique viewpoint because of my husband’s job. Here’s the deal on that. The Athens Hippy in me would love to label everything a ‘factor farm’ and set all mass-produced cows and pigs and chickens and eggs aside as ‘bad.’

There is a disconnection from the industry of farming, which makes it easy to believe this, but it’s obviously not as easy or as clear-cut as that. Think of it. How many farmers do you know? None. Because, like, seven families in total do that for a living in Ohio.

And there are a lot of lies on both sides of the argument, especially about what is healthy for the livestock and/or makes them happy. And we don’t know any better because we’ve never raised chickens, so we assume that they’re much healthier Ranging Free Without Cages, but this is not always the case. Example fact? Free range chickens have a higher mortality rate. This is because they are more susceptible to disease, broken bones and fighting with other chickens.

I’m not saying cages are ideal, but just some food for thought. and I’m not claiming to be an expert about chickens. (They’re on their way in the mail — I’ll let you know!) I can give you more examples if you want, but the point is that we’re WAY BEYOND DUMB about the health and comfort and safety needs of livestock, and we project human needs and emotions onto them instead of studying the science of animal behavior (booooooring!).

But there are many many many farming families who love the earth and love their animals and treat them with respect, even if they have like, one million animals. Farm families have to buy each other out and consolidate their farms to stay in business. A famiily with 1,000 hogs suddenly operates with 2,500 of their neighbor’s hogs. Then they become a ‘concentrated animal feeding operation,” or a ‘factory farm.’

Seth has talked to these people, and many of them are scared and confused. They’re not backward or dumb. They’re smart at operating their farms, but they’re disconnected from the consumer. And they’re workaholics. Don’t spend much time on the blogosphere. And worst of all, they probably don’t have high-speed internet access, let alone an organized plan to combat the major public relations problems because of some of the misleading material that comes from groups like PETA or the Humane Society of the United States. (I said SOME.)

These farmers are also horrified about the videos that are circulating and the way that bad farmers are treating their animals, giving them a bad rap.

That said, we all know about the ‘factory farmers’ who are doing horrible things to their animals and spitting in the face of creation. And good farmers need to be pushed by consumers to beef up their organic production, and sustainable practices should be rewarded with CASH, but the government subsidies given to farmers are mostly retarded.

So that’s my boilerplate “other side” of the factory farm debate. My check from the Farm Bureau is in the mail, I’m sure. But seriously, I believe in the good, honest farmers that my husband writes profile stories about because Seth is conscious of his food consumption as well, and although he can tow the company line, he also tells me what he really thinks while we are in the grocery store. and he is the only person I know who has actually been inside a factory farm.

It looks like you’re right on with the process, Lemonscarlet. At least from what little I know or little perspective I’ve been blessed with. Ask questions. Visit farms. Form a relationship with the people who make your food, or grow your own. That’s the best way, but also the most impossible. I will sell you a quarter of our meat cow when we get our barn in working order. Animals love living and dying with the Teters.

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  • Merlin

    I feel your pain. I have been to those places, I have cleaned out chicken coops and rabbit cages, and I’ve met both good farmers and bad. Like Lisa would say, everybody’s people.

    Wanna go wild boar hunting this spring?

  • Dennis

    My dad is a farmer. My grandpa was an active farmer until the day he died in 2000. At least one uncle is a farmer. Half of my dad’s friends are farmers. My in-laws’ next-door neighbor is a farmer. A large portion of the members of his church are farmers. My brother has a degree in agricultural economics. My other brother has a degree in turfgrass science.

    I know a buttload of farmers.

    That said, nice post.

  • jessm

    yeah, this is some difficult business for sure. the cages for the chickens make me sad, i reccomend PBS’s documentaryThe Natural History of the Chicken (2000), which is very very entertaining and educational at the same time. when i was in high school my friends would have parties and we would watch it over and over again. it is amazing, like my friends and especially the ones that have blogs that i read.

  • lemonscarlet aka J-do

    Thanks Little Teet. I would LOVE to buy 1/4 of your meat cow when the time comes. I will have a follow up post up soon.