Thursday, September 09, 2004

"Food" becomes Thought

I am going to go and see this documentary next week and have lots of questions.

Peaceable Kingdom

While I am not against the concept of meat eating per se, I am completely against factory farming and bio-engineering (and other means of altering animals so they become little profit machines).

My first question is this: Is anybody out there talking about what would happen to animals used for food once we stop eating them (if that's a possibility)? I'm not being flippant, I would really like to know if anyone has a solid approach to taking care of all the animals we have domesticated for food and labour.

The idea of "freeing" currently misused animals is nice, but naive. I would love to see someone come up with a humane solution to surplus animals. Obviously, we have a problem taking care of domestic pets. People seem fairly incompetent when it comes to spaying/neutering and providing good care for cats and dogs. Who, then, will be responsible for cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, etc? Will municipal laws change to accommodate larger mammals?

Again, I am not knocking the idea, I really do have sincere questions about this which comes from an open heart and mind.



Blogger Cat Walker said...

I'm thinking that since we are a supply and demand society, there would be no animals to give lifelong care for if people slowly ate less meat. Lower demand...fewer animals bred...those animals eaten by those who still eat meat...if demand continues to go down, supply goes down. Therefore, no idle animals to care for IF people stopped eating meat. It would never happen all at once, if it even could happen.

I'm what I call a "recovering carnivore," or as my husband likes to call us, "opportunivores." We try not to purchase store or restaurant meat because we don't know the conditions the animals were raised in. We purchase local meat direct from small farmers to support our local economy. We also permit hunting on our land (or hunt ourselves)...better an animal that lived a free life and died swiftly, than an animal raised in stagnating conditions and killed slowly (trucking, etc.)...IF you are going to eat meat. We have been on-again off-again vegetarians, but have real problems with California irrigation practices (social justice issues). We hope at some point to raise all our own food on our property, primarily plant-based. In the meantime, it's veggies supplemented by wild game and local beef. Oh, and we have two chickens who keep us in eggs.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

As condo dwellers in the heart of a large city we don't have the opportunity to grow our own veggies. Our usual practice is to visit farmers markets and try and get local produce whenever possible.

We love meat (and fish) and will probably always eat it. We try to be careful about what we buy because there are two extremes. One is the corporate farm, where the meat is usually pumped full of chemicals and the other is the small independent meat producer. Unfortunately, many of these small producers are absolutely unhealthy, cruel and inhumane (ie. storing livestock in a basement or poor or unsanitary processing). So we're a little stuck, we usually end up buying bulk at Coscto and potioning and vaccuum sealing it. I'd like to get back into hunting (I hunted alot as a kid) and love venison. We'll see what the future holds in store.

9:29 AM  
Blogger June said...

Terry, it´s interesting what you said. I always thought that independent farmers and small meat producers are "normal", which means they are not cruel, they don´t torture animals in unhealthy conditions. Isn´t it against law or special regulations?
I´m a city girl and maybe I have romantic projections about reality.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

Nope, the first thing we learned in Toronto is "don't by lamb unless you can see the " gov't approved" stamp or something similar somewhere on the package". There are alot of unsavory characters who grow a few cows, lambs or sheep (or, I hate to say it, other domesticated animals) in their backyards and then slaughter them themselves. This is often where the periodic outbreaks of food poisoning come from.

Thats not to say there aren't wonderful local butchers all over the place. If you get out of the city you can find small shops. Ask lots of questions about where the meat comes from, aging, storage, etc. If they don't want to tell you something, its usally for a good reason and you don't want to buy their product.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Also, Canadian inspectors have proven that they are understaffed, underbudgeted, and have no teeth to enforce the laws (especially during the mad cow scare, this was very evident). Lots of legitimate (and the other kind) of meat suppliers are niche market suppliers to a few stores or restaurants. It can often be a kind "if the bell doesn't ring" kind of thing. Not to scare anyone off meat, just educate yourself a little and you'll have no problems.

12:12 PM  
Blogger aleah said...

My brother hunts and refuses to buy any animal products from a grocery or distributor. His philosophy is kill only what you need and no more, use every bit, and be prepared to come face-to-face with your prey. In other words, don't eat meat unless you're prepared to do the killing.

While there are numerous reasons I feel more inclined toward a veggie lifestyle, I know that I have many choices available to me for good protein. When I hear the argument that there are few places where a meat-free diet is do-able, I have to laugh. There are still plenty of places where eating meat is necessary for subsistence.

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, and to Cat for her thoughts on domestic "livestock" population depletion...


12:39 PM  
Blogger June said...

Thanks Terry, for the explanation. I think it´s the same everywhere (sigh). No regulations can prevent people from doing harm to animals when they have no sympathy.
I don´t eat meat and I can´t process it, but we buy it once in a while, so I will remember your advice and interview farmers. We also try to avoid food full of chemicals.
My husband was in Japan and he said, there he ate the best meat in the world. The meat was from special farms where farmers raise cattles with special care - lots of space, sun and fresh food, regular grooming, stroking, classical music (really!) and absolutely painless slaughtering. It should be everywhere like this.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Cat Walker said...

I had a friend who raised two pigs on his own property and thought he had humane slaughter down. He went out every day and scratched them on the forehead with a stick (you can see where this is going). When slaughter day came, he shot the first one in the head without any terror or distress on the pig's part.

But he shot the first pig in front of the second pig. And the second pig wasn't having any part of it. Eight months of head scratching was immediately canceled out by watching his penmate get shot.

Pigs sure aren't stupid. And sometimes we sure are.

5:08 PM  
Blogger aleah said...

Whew, that's brutal. Can you imagine if most carnivores had to do that?!

5:31 AM  

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