"Doesn't it make you sad?" everyone asks this when they come out to the farm and see how we interact with the pigs that are inevitably going to be turned into nourishing, nutrient dense, flavorful pastured pork. It's a totally legitimate question and I'm glad people are curious about the process of raising and processing an animal.
But sometimes I get the "how COULD you?!" Well that's almost another question entirely to me because of the tone implied. I usually try to say something smart like, "Plz send $$ to pay feed bill for the next 20 years" or "go take a nap with them in the pasture and see who eats who first" but my real answer that I think to myself, "how could I NOT?"
We all have seen the same documentaries about factory farming and raising animals in confinement and we chose to "take action" differently, that's all. I thought long and hard about this, and my gut reaction could be to stop eating meat. That would mean that I, one person, am not longer buying this product. Or, my reaction could be to help provide a better option for local conscious omnivores to buy pork. In that case, now several families are no longer buying the commercial product, and the money stays in the local economy. To me it's obvious which has more a positive impact. So this is my response to those who say HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?! How can you walk by the meat section at a grocery store and decide to attack your local small farmer instead? Do you know how many pigs it takes to make the display of loins and baby back ribs? I digress...
So back to question does it make me sad. ABSOLUTELY!!! No one, I mean no one, loved these animals more than me. I spent hours and hours with them. I obsessively observe them while they live on my farm, laughing at the way their ears bounce when they come running for food, and learning their quirks and eating habits because this helps me understand which plants they find most palatable and at which stage in the plants life they prefer to eat it, and this in turn helps me learn to manage my pasture and rotational grazing more efficiently.
When I was "shopping around" at different slaughterhouses recently, I made sure and let one of the managers know how concerned I am about their welfare once they step off my trailer. He jokingly told me I shouldn't get so attached to my animals. I shrugged, but I completely disagree. I fully respect everything that makes these creatures unique in their existence. If I didn't spend time with them, observing them, interacting with them, I would be a bad farmer, for several reasons. They wouldn't trust me, I wouldn't understand how they interact/impact my land, and I would miss any early signs if anything ever was wrong.
Bottom line: I SHOULD feel bad about eating them. Being conscious and giving the utmost gratitude for the life that was sacrificed so that you can eat is the only way I EVER want to eat. And I want you to feel the same way. Maybe if we were all a little more connected to the food we eat - VEGETABLE OR MEAT! - maybe we'd more easily appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating that product, and wouldn't waste so much food as a society...and if we didn't waste so much food, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess that our food system is in right now.
So, in summary, yes their one bad day is a bad day for me as well. But I get incredible joy out of raising these creatures. I get immense satisfaction when I have the end product in my hand and know that what I am holding is the best quality and most cared for pork around these parts, pasture raised and RIDICULOUSLY tasty. And the icing on the cake is that I'm taking customers away from animals raised in confinement and improving the health of the soil on my property in the process. It's sad but it's also incredible and I feel lucky to be doing this, bad days and all. It really is a joy, day in and day out.
So thank you for the questions, and thank you for reserving your judgments on this blog and on our FB pages. We won't tolerate the bullies. Because really, you are getting mad at the wrong people.