Ever Wonder if You Could Kill What You Eat? We Did the Other Night
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Were we traumatized? Did we feel sorry for the chicken? Are we dreading this weekend, where (without family around for help) we'll have to kill 150 more? Here's why not.
I've been feeding, pasturing, watering, and talking to these guys since the spring. They wander around all day in grass, pecking for bugs. So I know they've had a good life when they make it to that cone; as far as a chicken goes, they've seen the best there is to offer. Of course there's something to say for one being taking another being's life--and to be honest, I'll probably be dealing with that emotionally for the rest of my life. It's not easy.
Did we feel more connected to our dinner, because of the kill? Surprisingly, the guests' reaction varied. Clara was ravenous for the meat. Another young woman couldn't touch it: "Too soon!" And Therese didn't wind up feel a closer connection to her food, the opposite of what she thought would happen. Perhaps it was her adrenaline, or maybe the ambiance of "this happens every day" farms tend to have. But maybe feeling connected to her food, in the end, wasn't as important as being connected to the animal during its life and final moments. Which is the nobler goal for us local food eating, small-scale farm supporting folk? I know since moving to a farm, I'm much less concerned with labels like Organic, Local, and Farm-Fresh. I want to know how that animal lived, not just what it ate, or where it came from. Local chicken could come from next door, and been raised in a cage. Organic chicken could have been pumped with feed, and not a blade of grass. Foodie labels don't excite me anymore. I want to know the amount of sun, fresh air and forage that animal got during its life. Organic, shmorganic, in other words. Give me the backstory.
I ate up the meat just like any other dinner--I felt no urge to pat myself on the back. It was almost like being numbed, until I realized--farming gets you as close to death as one can get. We see the composting of bodies, of soil, and the process by which an animal is born and leaves the world. We facilitate their birth and their death. We offer our animals a good life, in exchange for their bodies. And in time (the amount of which we'll never know, for we will never be able to control it), we'll offer up our own to the earth. But, at the same time...what if robots descended upon earth and decided to farm us? I might not like it.