Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'm in the NY times today

It's interesting that the pictures that were chosen were in the middle of the butchery process, to my mind.  They show a pig that is dead, stuck and scraped already; that, for me, isn't the real point.   It's almost too clinical.  That's meat-cutting, not slaughter. 

I'm aiming my classes at folks who want to go from pasture to plate - the whole way, not just the last third.   I recognize that it's difficult to write about this for a mass audience, but part of the experience is the moment of death, the warmth of the body, the gush of hot blood, the permanance of it.   I'm not dwelling on that, but I am not ignoring it, either.  Of all the comments made in the article, the one that struck me the most was this one, from Jake Lahne: 

“Animals do not want to die,” he wrote. “They can feel pain and fear, and, just like us, will struggle to breathe for even one single more second. If you’re about to run 250 volts through a pig, do not look it in the eyes. It is not going to absolve you.”

That's the essence of meat for me.  Most of us are too far from our food.  Everyone should hold the knife at least once in their lives.  

Really liked this quote from Temple Grandin, who is an internationally-known slaughter consultant:

The method the Rusbys learned in Washington State is, in fact, a more humane alternative, she said. “The easiest way to kill an animal is to approach it as it eats out of a feed trough in its home pen and shoot it in the middle of the forehead — bang,” Ms. Grandin said. “There, there would be no stress at all.”

Thank you Alex Williams, for your coverage of this, and Ms. Grandin for your compliment on my farm kill method. 

Here's the NY Times article.
Here's Jake Lahne's ethicurean blog entry on slaughter (source of the quote, above)


Anonymous said...

The article was a good read. I'm interested in one of your classes - where/when can I find you?
- Mick

MMP said...

I think I was most interested by the closing comment by Jake Lahne:

“I truly believe that humane slaughter is important and possible,” he added, “but, as I have been learning, here’s the truth about any slaughter: it is both morally difficult and really gross.”

He definitely got part of it, slaughter is an unpleasant task.

A big part of it, moving to a lifestyle where my food choices are conscious and deliberate, including animal slaughter, for me is the whole animal part. Before my wife and I really got into raising our own animals we realized there was a disconnect in modern eating. As a society we had gone down the road of eating the tasty bits all the time and exclusively, whether is is white rice or dollar ninety nine pork tenderloin. To us, that meant that not only were our bodies only recieving a small portion of the nutritional benifit of the plants and animals we consumed, industrial food systems had to find a home for all those other less desirable parts. Enter mass production of ultra processed foods to disguise those other parts we weren't interested in.

Processing our own animals and using every bit is important to us. Giblet gravy, poultry feet for the dog and composting the offal for addition to our garden. Not ignoring the parts we find distasteful.

sheila said...

If only all animals destined for meat could be treated as humanely as you do rather than the commercial big ag business model. Consumers and the animals both deserve better. The only poultry I eat are birds that I have raised and butchered myself. My beef, pork and lamb come from local farmers and is processed and packaged at a small local shop where the animal is butchered as soon as it is trucked there. I would prefer a farm killed animal if I could find someone doing it the way you are. The animal deserves at least that much respect.

Anonymous said...

Sheila - unfortunately, it is the loading of the animals into the truck (primarily) that stresses them. Nor does how far they are trucked matter much (to a point, of course) or whether or not the plant that slaughters them is big or small. The reason is that to get them in the truck, you typically have to make them do things they don't want to do, which stresses them.

Knox Gardner said...