Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Road Less Travelled
How many chickens have to die to provide a package of chicken breasts or thighs? Have you ever seen cattle in a feedlot? Do you know what chemicals are in your bacon?
When we eat one of our own chickens, every bit is used up, and it feeds us for days. The only waste is bones and feathers which we bury at the bottom of the compost heap. Most important, is that we value the life that was taken so that we can be nourished. Never in my past did I consider the animals that had to die so that I could eat meat. In fact, I only ate filleted meat so that I did not have to face the reality of what I was eating. That does not make it any easier to eat the animal we've raised. There's a profound, humbling sense of gratefulness that accompanies home grown meals, but also a realistic acceptance of the responsibility that we have to give the animal the best life that we can for as long as it lives.
We live in an area where a neighbouring farmer will donate a whole lamb for a spitbraai between a few people, where the men prefer to eat chops and wors than salads and cheese, where meat is eaten at almost every main meal. We, on the other hand, eat meat as a treat. We seldom buy it, rather choosing to mostly eat our own veggies, eggs and dairy produce. A while back we were given a whole lot of mutton. We are eating it sparingly and use it for special occasions. It is treated as something valuable, not commonplace, not taken for granted. How much more will we value our own home grown meat?
If I have to choose between sentimentality about our animals and responsibility, I choose the tough road of responsibility. I would rather we managed every step of their short lives, than handed them over to an uncertain future. Living on a farm has challenged and changed me in many areas of my life, and this is one of them. Organic, free range meat is expensive, and mostly out of our budget. Raising our own organic free range meat helps us to eat locally, ethically and frugally.