Meeting Dinner

Mouse pig snuggled in for a winter snooze.

Over on Living Small Charlotte mentioned Heath’s post on Wooly Pigs where someone asked him:

“From your posts, you seem committed to producing the highest quality meat for your customers with the best, most humane methods. However, you couch all concerns of the treatment of your animals in terms of the quality of the finished product. Do you strive to treat your animals well, over and above activity that will ensure a quality product? How can you reconcile the relationship you develop with these animals with the act of slaughtering them for food? Do you own pets?

I’m not trying to insult you but merely trying to understand what I, as a vegan, see as the cognitive dissonance of people like you who are intimately connected with both the raising and slaughtering of food animals.”

This is a topic that comes up once in a while. I don’t see any cognitive dissonance raising animals to eat. I have no guilt over eating another, be they mineral, plant or animal. Everybody eats to live. That is the nature of Nature. Even plants don’t survive on sunshine alone.

Plants eat. We eat plants. Animals eat plants or other animals. We eat other animals. We in our turn will be eaten by plants, bacteria and worms – assuming you don’t go for the wasteful cremation or preservation routes or perhaps tangle with another animal that eats you. It is the cycle of life.

I raise pigs, scratch them behind the ears, rub their backs, talk to them and make sure that they have a good life out on our pastures. When the time comes they will die for me – I cherish them both in their life and their death. Good life. Good food. A better life for them means better quality food for us and the customers of our small family farm.

Do go and read Charlotte’s and Heath’s thoughts on this topic. I am a bit less tolerant than Heath on pigs that bite. I cull hard for temperament in all our animals. The safety of me and my family is far more important than the life of an animal. There are other pigs who are more than happy enough to be pleasant and polite. Mean animals get culled to the dinner table. It’s a simple rule and it works.

I like to know my dinner. Whenever possible I like to know where my food came from, whether I grew it myself or got it from another local farmer. Personally, I feel that I should be ready, willing and able to grow, raise, harvest and slaughter my own vegetables, fruits and meats although I’m not about to impose my belief on anyone else. What I don’t like are the anonymous corporate factories that churn out identically wrapped packages of carrots, watermelon, chicken breasts, beef steaks and pork chops all too often with the labor of underpaid illegal workers. I don’t call them farms because they aren’t. They’re assembly lines, factories, confinement operations, feed lots and worse. I also find it absurd to have what could be locally produced items shipped around the world. We don’t need apples, lettuce and hamburgers from the other side of the ocean. The same goes for socks, granite and other goods.

Buy Locally, Do Good, Live Well & Prosper.

-WalterJ

Also see:
To Kill or Not?
Kindest Killing Blow

Outdoors: 39°F/17°F 1″ Snow
Farm House: 58°F/50°F 3 Round bales out, Louisa
Tiny Cottage: 49°F/39°F nada

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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13 Responses to Meeting Dinner

  1. Tim says:

    Walter,

    It’s a fair question, and a great response on your part. Of course, I’m not a vegan, but certainly have respect for people who make that choice. One of the things that frequently puzzles me when these questions come up is the fact that no one mentions that (most all of) the animals we eat wouldn’t even be alive to begin with if it weren’t for us farmers. I mean, you wouldn’t see cows roaming wildly anymore as you do deer. Cows and most pigs are bred, fed, raised and in your case, given a great life to live. Is the suggestion that they should be given no life at all?

    As I said, I respect the question, but in the end agree with you that I understand how nature works. There is a food chain and, right now, we humans have the omnivorous right to choose what we eat. The fact that you do it humanely and create a great habitat for your animals is commendable.

    Tim Young
    http://www.naturesharmonyfarm.com
    Georgia

  2. karl says:

    i tangled with this topic many times in my life. most of my co-workers in my last job in california were vegetarian. i stumbled across a well written article that makes the case for my position more eloquently than i have the ability.

    http://omelays.blogspot.com/2006/02/better-than-i-could-have-ever-said-it.html

  3. Good article by Charles Einstein, Karl. A couple of minor points:

    On the points gained per pounds eaten, the number is 3 to 4 pounds of feed for every pound of gain with pigs, something I’ve very familiar with, not the five to 15 cited in the article. Note that is pounds of balanced feed, not pounds of protein – A detail but an important difference.

    Additionally, the ‘waste’ that comes out the back side of the livestock is valuable fertilizer. The animal has processed it from it’s course fiber form to something that is wonderful for growing veggies and fruit. Even purely composted vegetable matter does not compare with the value of digested plant matter our pigs, sheep, chickens and cows poop out so willingly. Without that there would be no organic vegetables and fruit. It is a system.

    On the issue of the animals eating the vegetables and grains vs people eating those it is not as simple as the evangelical would have you believe. Like on most small farms, our animals are grazing pasture and brush that is not fit for human consumption. People could not live on the diet the pigs, sheep, chickens and cows thrive on. More over, the fields that the livestock thrive on are steep mountains with poor soils in our case and not suitable for growing grains or veggies in any form of intense cultivation for human consumption.

    Livestock production is the optimal food production from that land for us and does result in the feeding of the most people. The pastures are kept clear of forest which means they are more diverse. Forest tests toward limited species. This is why the margins, along the edges of forest and open land are the most diverse areas with the greatest numbers of species.

    Modern food production techniques used in confinement feeding operations on the other hand are an abomination and desecration. The problem is not meat vs vegetable. The problem is the disassociation from natural, sustainable ways. But there is a solution and every single individual can participate in fighting for change:

    Buy Locally. Do Good. Live Well & Prosper.

    Happy Thanks Giving!

    -Walter

  4. jessie says:

    As you may know, we recently raised and slaughtered our first two pigs. I am amazed that my attitude toward this whole process was one of great personal triumph rather than one of guilt for taking the life of a living creature.

    I don’t think I could out-argue a vegan (although I hold that most people who are extremists in any one area, whether religious, dietary, political, athletic, environmental, whatever, are not usually very fun people, and that is an important trait to me), but as a meat-eater, I feel this experience has made me a more honest human. I am also happy to have provided a damn good life for two pigs.

    I am not ready to slaughter an animal myself and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to take that final step. But as far as my moral outlook, eating my own animal is immeasurably more humane than eating something raised in a factory.

  5. jessie says:

    As you may know, we recently raised and slaughtered our first two pigs. I am amazed that my attitude toward this whole process was one of great personal triumph rather than one of guilt for taking the life of a living creature.

    I don’t think I could out-argue a vegan (although I hold that most people who are extremists in any one area, whether religious, dietary, political, athletic, environmental, whatever, are not usually very fun people, and that is an important trait to me), but as a meat-eater, I feel this experience has made me a more honest human. I am also happy to have provided a damn good life for two pigs.

    I am not ready to slaughter an animal myself and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to take that final step. But as far as my moral outlook, eating my own animal is immeasurably more humane than eating something raised in a factory.

  6. Anonymous says:

    3 cheers for you sir.. I stumbled upon your blog and LOVE IT.. We are family farmers in Wisconsin – we eat only our own meant, grow our own veggies and drink our own milk. We are to be stewards of the land, animals and ourselves because they are gifts. I have had people say, how can you eat them after looking them in the eyes. I tell them they have a purpose, to nurish my family. If they have been treated well, loved to a degree and feed well what more could an animal ask for? The keys to the car and $20 for a date??? :) Thanks for being so direct about this, I will be watching your blog from now on as I like your point of view…and – I love pigs!!! LOL

    Heidi in Wisconsin

  7. You make some great points.

    Excellent post!

  8. PV says:

    Walt?????? Are you there??????

  9. Ms. Anne says:

    Just found your blog. We have a farm in Middle Tennessee with goats and chickens and vegetables.

    Many people we know are about the whole vegan thing, but I think that Michael Pollan was able to sum up my view in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. These animals would not exist this way without us. For whatever reason, thousands of years ago we and they threw our lots together. If we don’t eat them, we proabably would not raise as many and they would not prosper either.

    I think it is so imporatnt to be mindful that the animal you are eating is giving its life for you and to do it proper honro by raising it well and eating it well is how it’s supposed to be.

  10. Well said. I’ve not read his book yet although I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. It is on my to read list and I’m keeping my eye out for it at the annual book sales.

  11. karl says:

    it has been a while since i read this and find it as refreshing as the first time i read it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hi Walter:

    I’ll be getting back into finishing 14-16 hogs a year over the mild winters here in Western WA after some years away from it. My customers are demanding it, haha.

    People always have asked me: “Don’t you get attached to your little porky pals? How can you watch them die?”

    I answer: “Sure, I get attached to them. I want them to be happy and to have a good life, and I make sure that they do. Every day, come rain, hail, sleet, or snow, when it comes my turn to feed those hogs, I do it. And when it comes their turn to feed me, they do it.”

    I have bookmarked this blog and will read it often. Thank you for producing it. I am a brother in arms against NAIS.

    Ivan

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