Okay, I made a New Year’s resolution

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.  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. 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.

7 Responses to “Okay, I made a New Year’s resolution”

  1. Erin says:

    that’s awesome, allen! :)
    i hope to be able to do that someday as well. i’ve already switched from beef to bison. i get it from a local slaughterplant near my parents’ house. a lot of emu raised down there too…i wonder how that tastes?

  2. Travis says:

    It’s good all around when people eat food that is produced locally so good for you.

    On the topic of confinement, though, I’m torn. It seems less cruel to me to kill and eat a miserable, penned up animal than it does to kill one that’s having a happy, frolicking, free-range life.

    I know there are other issues in caging, like sanitation and the safety of the final product.

  3. Allen says:

    My view on confinement is that, as far as I know, other animals besides us don’t have much anticipation of the future. They’re living in the moment.

    In the case of, say, a deer, I think it’s not such a bad life to be out there running around, eating a variety of yummy stuff, and hanging out with other deer until suddenly one day you hear a loud bang.

    We may regret all those future days of deer fun in the woods that are lost, but I don’t think the deer anticipated them in the first place.

    On the other hand, an animal that is miserable right now is miserable in the only time period it has real awareness of.

  4. Reno says:

    Not to mention the fact that if we don’t eat animals that spent their lives in hell, the market for hell-begotten animals will shrink and fewer of them will be alive to torture in the first place.

    My friend Denice has sheep and eats their lambs. When a ewe gets too old and is no longer having a good life, Denice and her family dine on mutton. The sheep have lots of room to frolic, and Denice and her family have lots of ethically-and-hormonally clean meat. Seems like a decent deal all around, at least for omnivores.

  5. Reid says:

    Allen, I’m looking into it. My neighbor is dating this fellow (Ted Kerasote) who writes books. He’s coming over for dinner (what shall we eat?) from WY next month and I thought I’d do some homework. He wrote “Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt”. Though I haven’t read it yet, it is on order and may be tied to this theme…

    I think I know the Mr. Venison Guy, PhD, and his argument is carefully crafted. It certainly is a lifestyle, kind of like riding your bike to work.

    These conscientious choices for certain lifestyles can be admirable. Greetings.

  6. Allen says:

    Tomorrow I’m planning to ride my bike to Family Friendly Farms and buy chicken and pork. I’m trying to think whether this will be the first meat I’ve ever eaten that has never been transported using fossil fuels. Oh, not if you count fish, because I used to bike to fishing spots in Fla. when I was a kid. And I’ve eaten trout while camping in the mountains of Arizona and Utah. But for homeothermic meat, I think it’ll be a first.

  7. K says:

    Well, I pretty much agree with your viewpoint, and I’m a vegetarian. I have far less trouble with the idea of eating free-range chickens and so forth.

    The husband is an omnivore, but is sliding gently away from meat since we got the guinea pigs. Perhaps we should have got a carnivorous pet. (And we might, if we weren’t so allergic to cats.) He knows he couldn’t go out there and shoot something (not that we could, round here) and is feeling lately that eating meat isn’t so different from eating the guinea pigs…

    He’s still going to eat fish, though he’s trying to be more careful about where it comes from. And I doubt he’ll give up meat, just eat less of it.

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