I usually don’t get all philosophical on my blog. My blog is for boring riveting training stories, pictures of food/the animals doing cute things and and other boring hilarious hi jinks. But, unfortunately for you, I’m going to drag out my soapbox and treat you to some of my thoughts. (Feel free to skip to the bottom to see a cute picture of Wally on the couch… )
In my campaign to make small, sustainable changes in my life vs. big New Years Resolutions, I’ve been looking at what I eat and where it comes from. (Yes, I know… ignorance is bliss.) I started with Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, both excellent choices to get you started. But then my local library finally provided me a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, which was a much more unflinching look at the horrors of factory farming. I rounded out my “meat reading” with Catherine Friend’s The Compassionate Carnivore, which is a sustainable farmer’s take on being a more responsible meat eater.
I know from seeing friend’s Facebook statuses about watching Food, Inc. and the subsequent posts about what they’ll never eat again, that I’m not alone in this issue. It’s also a depressingly massive problem. The way food is produced in our country is seriously jacked up at every level, both animal and vegetable. But I’ve decided that while I can’t change the way agribusiness functions in our country, I can reduce how much of my personal $$ they get, and so I’m choosing to let my actions/dollars speak for me.
I’d already been working to add more veggie-based dinners into our weekly rotation and reduce how much meat we were eating in general, courtesy of Michael Pollan. I’ve also been a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member forever (even when we lived in the ghetto in New York, we were getting veggie boxes.) But now we’re stepping things up with an order of pasture-raised beef & pork from a local farm. I’m still on the lookout for pasture-raised chicken, which is a little harder to find. Not only do I want to reduce the amount of commercially raised meat that I buy, but I also want to support the kind of behavior I want to see.
Whenever you start down this conversational topic, there’s always that question of “Why eat animals at all? Why not just become a vegetarian?” And vegetarianism is a perfectly fine choice for many reasons. But if I am concerned about animal welfare, it seems more powerful to financially support the small percentage of farms that are doing right by their animals – raising and slaughtering them humanely. The monolithic agribusiness industry feeds on the large percentage of the population that doesn’t really care where their food comes from, as long as it’s cheap. If the people who actually do care enough about animal welfare all switch to vegetarianism, then how is that helping effect change?
Regardless of where you fall on the eat meat/don’t eat meat equation, the factory farm system needs to be addressed. These farms cause massive amounts of pollution, in addition to the suffering of animals and the people who work there. I came across this organization in my reading and highly recommend you checking them out. I appreciate their even-handed approach to the problem at hand, without some of the divisive theatrics that PETA tends to rely on.
So ends my little rant. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. And now, as promised, here are some cute pictures of Wally on the couch: