Yeah, I did. I resolved to quit buying and eating confinement-raised animals. Chickens at least, preferably also pigs and cattle. I’m an omnivore, and have been all my life with only about an 18-month hiatus some 30 years ago. I have no particular problem with killing innocent chickens, piggies, cows, etc. and eating them. However, I do have a problem with torturing them first.
I don’t need to go into the whole Confinement Animal Feeding Operations story — suffice it to say that I think animals ought to be able to run around, see the outdoors, that sort of thing. I already eat mainly eggs from chickens raised by a friend in the Chemistry department. I frequently ride my bike past his place and see the chickens running around out in the field. Damn good eggs, too. He also sells chickens, and this year I plan to start buying them.
Of course, there’s a problem here — I’ve been in the habit of eating a mesquite-broiled chicken breast (you get them at Sam’s Club, frozen in a bag) every day at lunch. I can’t afford to eat a breast from a wild-and-crazy-running-around-loose chicken daily. So I’ve switched to Boca burgers for lunch. My concern for the treatment of soybeans is limited at best.
Now I also like pork occasionally, even sausage. What to do? Well, there’s a meat processing place right in Pocahontas. It’s the kind of place you can take your deer around to the back to get made into chops or whatever. They also have pork chops, loin, and 12 kinds of brats.Â Seems likely that these would be from local, wild and crazy pigs, eh?
So yesterday I went to Reis Meat and picked out some chops and some brats, and I asked the woman at the counter, “Where do the pigs come from? Are these from local pigs?”
The woman looked a bit confused, but then she answered. “Oh, no, no they aren’t.” My heart sank. Damn, they get their pigs from some giant operation in Nebraska or something. She continued with, “They’re from Bollinger farms down by Bloomfield.”
Yeah.Â In other words, about 50 miles away. I don’t know Bollinger farms specifically, but I did some reading on the web — there have been some bills in the Missouri legislature recently about confinement operations — and it turns out that there are some large-scale confinement feeding pig farms in the state, but they’re all in the southwest part, not near us (or even 50 miles away). So, unless someone out there knows different, I’m pretty sure my pork chops came from pigs that, like the ones I see around here, are sort of lolling about in muddy farmyards. Not maybe the ideal existence, but then again, well fed and not locked in a stall too small to turn around in.
As a colleague was pointing out, there’s also venison. I know a number of people who hunt — maybe I should try it. I certainly don’t think it’s more ethical to eat animals that other people kill than to kill your own. For that matter, apparently you get a discount on chickens from my friend the chemist if you help slaughter them.
So, we’ll see where this leads. I may wind up on a tofu-only diet, or I may become Nimrod the mighty hunter. Stay tuned.