Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What is a reasonable slaughter experience?

I went to see Food, Inc. tonight, a movie that talks about our food system, and there were a couple of things that stood out to me in that movie, but the biggest one was related to animal slaughter.

There's a scene in the movie of a chicken processing line. Chickens are already plucked and on a conveyor belt; you can see a thousand or more chickens being conveyed this way as workers cut bits off them and put them onto the line. This scene drew no reaction from the audience at all. Those chickens are mixed with hundreds of other birds in baths of water to chill them and "clean" them, and then the internal organs from some other birds get stuffed into them and the whole thing is really pretty icky.

There's a scene where a food producer (Joe Salatin) is talking about chickens and they put a couple of chickens in killing cones. the worker picks up the chicken by its feet, puts it into the cone head down, and then reaches up from the bottom of the cone to pull the head of the chicken out. He then cuts the throat of the chicken, making one cut on each side of the jaw. This got gasps from the audience. Mr. Salatin is talking about his operation, and in the background there were more killing cones in operation. More gasps. In fact, I don't think that the audience heard anything he said. Audible gasps as each chicken was killed.

This movie showed beef being herded into a slaughterhouse, but not a kill floor. I think that if they're going to talk about beef, you should see what it looks like to kill it there, too. Show a farm kill and contrast it to a factory kill. Show the public what their money is supporting -- both ways!

It drove home to me how far most of the public is from their food, and to some extent how shocking or surprising slaughter is for most people. I think that if you're going to eat meat you should be prepared to pick up the knife yourself. It changes how you view your food, and for me, it makes it harder to waste any of it.


Heidi said...

Sounds like an interesting movie. People often can't understand how we can raise and then eat our own chickens. But I can't understand how they can, in good conscious, buy meat from the supermarket with the treatment it has been subjected to in life and death!

damae said...

I agree and wonder if there wouldn't be a little more appreciation and value for life, if more folks looked the animal in the eye that they are eating for dinner.

For me killing is the very hardest part. I cry every time and don't have much hope for that to change. Once the animal is dead I have no problem doing what needs to be done.

I really appreciate the quality of meat that comes from an animal that has had a more natural, normal life and is well mineralized. It really makes a difference in how I feel the next day after eating it.

Lisa Medley said...

I saw Food Inc Sunday. I wish everyone I've ever met would see it. I took six people. Same experience with the gasping. One of my friends said, "Lisa's done that!". I did. I helped the girl from the farmer's market butcher chickens to learn how. She did the first one, I killed the next 36. My husband, mother and daughter butchered a dozen of our own this May. They were Cornish Crosses. The first and last I'll ever raise. Love the meat, but those birds are freaks of nature. I'm online now to order another dozen chicks... Buff Orpingtons this time. We raised a two pigs last summer and into the winter for slaughter for the first time too. My husband hunts deer for the venison and by next summer we'll have fencing to raise our own beef. My mission is to NEVER buy another package of CAFO meat from the grocery store for the rest of our lives.

Life is good on the farm. Keep on keepin on.