Wise Meat (part 2)

You gotta love children’s books.  My 2 year old son picked a book out at the library about big machines. It stated, “the biggest tractor is an American machine called Big Bud 747. It can work a field the size of a football field every two minutes.” It might be relevant when considering this next passage.

The following is from Barbara Kingsolver’s book, as referenced in Wise Meat (part 1). I have provided some key points from Chapter 14, You Can’t Run Away on Harvest Day. It was a great chapter.

“We weren’t going on a hike today…Our plan for this gorgeuos day was the removal of some of our animals from the world of the living into the realm of food. At five months of age our roosters had put on a good harvest weight, and had lately opened rounds of cock-fighting, venting their rising hormonal angst against any moving target, including us…We would certainly take no pleasure in the chore, but it was high time for the testosterone-reduction program.

There was probably a time when I thought it euphemistic to speak of “harvesting” animals. Now I don’t…We invite friends to “harvest parties” rather we will be gleaning vegetable or animal. A harvest implies planning, respect, and effort.

Killing is a culturally loaded term…The blunt biological truth is that we animals can only remain alive by eating other life…Strangely enough it’s the animals to which we’ve assigned some rights, while the saintly plants we maim and behead with moral impunity…If we draw the okay-to-kill line between “animal” and “plant,” and thus exclude meat, fowl, and fish from our diet on moral grounds, we still must live with the fact that every sack of flour and every soybean based block of tofu came from a field where countless winged and furry lives were extinguished in the plowing, cultivating and harvest…

To believe we can live without taking life is delusional….I respect ever diner who makes morally motivated choices about consumption…But meat, poultry, and eggs from animals raised on open pasture are the traditional winter fare of my grandparents, and they serve us well here in the months when it would cost a lot of fossil fuels to keep us in tofu. Should I overlook the suffering of victims of hurricans, famines, and wars brought on this world by profligate fuel consumption? Bananas that cost a rainforest, refrigerator-trucked soy milk, and prewashed spinach shipped two thousand miles in plastic containers do not seem cruelty-free in this context…

To breed fewer meat animals in the future is possible; phasing out those types destined for confinement lots is a plan I’m assisting myself, by raising heirloom breeds. Most humans could well consume more vegetable foods, and less meat. But globally speaking, the vegetarian option is a luxury. The oft-cited energetic argument for vegetarianism, that it takes ten times as much land to make a pound of meat as a pound of grain, only applies to the kind of land where rain falls abundantly on rich topsoil…The fringest of desert, tundra, and marginal grasslands on every continent…are inhabited by herders…

Overgrazing has damaged plenty of the world’s landscapes, as has clearing rain forests to make way for cattle ranchers. But well-managed grazing can actually benefit natural habitats where native grazers exist or formerly existed….One of the region’s best options for feeding ourselves and our city neighbors may be pasture-based hoof stock and poultry. Cattle, goats, sheep, turkeys, and chickens all have their own efficient ways of turning steep, grass-covered hillsides into food, while fertilizing the land discreetly with their manure. The do it without drinking a drop of gasoline.

Managed grazing is healthier, in fact, than annual tilling and planting, and far more fuel efficient. Grass is a solar-powered, infinitely renewable resource. As consumers discover the health benefits of grass-based meat, more farmers may stop plowing land and let animals go to work on it instead.

…And that was the end of a day’s work. I hosed down the butcher shop and changed into more civilized attire….The meat on the rotisserie smelled good, helping to move our party’s mindset toward the end stages of the “cooking from scratch” proposition…We the living take every step in tandem with death…whether we can see that or not. We bear it by the grace of friendship, good meals, and if we need them, talking turkey heads.”

I offer this as food for thought (literally). I do this, knowing full well how sensitve I personally am to the issue. My six-year old daughter lost her hermit crab recently. She cried for hours over the loss of her friend. This blog is named after our deceased dog. Life is precious. We are all a part of the cycle. Supporting local, small farmers is a way to recognize that. bigmama

cropped-untitled-11.jpgGreat info on pasture grazing http://www.eatwild.com/ABCsPasture%20Grazing.pdf .