Nov 26 2008

Bringing it to the Table

As we are off for a few days of cooking I just wanted to share how we got our Turkey this thanksgiving.  After much deliberation since I had to “process” 30 of my friends Turkey’s who I’ve been watching loiter on his property all summer, we ended up with a Broad-Breasted Bronze for its weight mostly but also its traditional shape.

You see, there were Black Spanish, Narragansett, Blue Slate, and Broad-Breasted Bronze. All are heritage slow growing lovely birds.  One exception though is the Broad-Breasted because it is a cousin of the Butterball Turkey’s we are all familiar with known as the Broad-Breasted White.  These guys have been selectively bred for decades for, well, thier broad breasts.  Unlike the aforementioned, the other heritage breeds look a lot more like traditional ame birds with higher breast bones and less meat.

My feeling is that when you’re bringing something new to the table, you have to ease people into it.  I have found that beating people over the head with ideals and theory on how they should live their life according to what they eat always ends in strong aversion to ones point. In any case, if you’re curious about the process or find it interesting to see where humane food comes from click on the photo below:


Mar 2 2008

Slaughter Redux

It’s been brought to my attention that in a previous post concerning the nature of slaughter, that I was a bit crass and may not have explained the process thoroughly enough. In essence, what I was trying to convey was the fact that one should proudly eat meat, if and only when they have learned to be honest about their relationship with it. Before we get ahead of ourselves, I am not a preaching fanatic and by no means have I been this way my whole life, but after learning a few things and experiencing that much more I can’t help but feel that I’ve been lied to my whole life.

For some reason, after reading Michael Pollan’s “Omnivores Dilemma”, something inside me changed. There was something brooding inside me yearning for change and it was as though a veil had been lifted from my face, allowing me to see clearly for the first time. We make decisions everyday of our lives that impact us greatly and eating has to be one of the most significant and most undervalued decisions there is. Ironically, we’ve developed and nurtured a culture where we rely on corporations to make food choices for us. This system could be fine and hum harmoniously alongside this great engine of a society that we’ve created if it weren’t for the fact that we let the corporations treat it like any other capitalistic business model.

Food production in the United States is controlled by the USDA, which has commissioned a food business that worries more about numbers and subsidies than actual quality and taste. The USA alone produces around 9 billion chickens a year. We have a pork and cattle industry that has been dumping so much waste into our water systems that we’ve created a toxic wasteland the size of Massachusetts in the gulf of Mexico in which no life form can be sustained except algae and bacteria. These are only a few examples of food production atrocities that go so deep, most people will never know or would prefer not to know what they really put into their mouths on a daily basis.

It makes me furious and sad when the USDA recalls 143 million pounds of beef, not because they deem it unsafe to eat but because a video on youtube surfaced showing cows being tortured at what is considered a humane industrial farming cattle operation. The video was so disturbing and horrific, that the embarrassment endured by the USDA caused it to issue the largest beef recall in history. What most people fail to realize is that the atrocious abuse of those animals is by no means unique and practically a standard in our food industry. If that doesn’t say something about the priorities towards the way our food is produced in this country than I don’t know what does. I even saw a commercial the other day from McDonalds which touted the fact that now they were actually serving 100% Beef as though we were supposed to assume that in the past a hamburger was something other than all beef. I can’t even begin to imagine what was in the last Big Mac I ate 15yrs ago.

In any case, back to my original point concerning slaughter. We all eat, and we all make choices about what we eat. I personally wanted to get in touch with what I ate and even more so understand what I was eating. Therefore, I set out on a mission to find meat that was produced under conditions that satisfied my requirements for humane and healthy food. In the galleries below, which are viewable after clicking on each link, I participated in two slaughters that were extremely humane and honest. The animals you see here have all gone to families that have raised and nurtured them through their entire life cycle.

You can say what you want about the notion of slaughter, and yes there is nothing pretty, fun, or easy about it. Although, there is something honest, rewarding, and humbling about it. Most of my experiences in this field have begun with a shot of whiskey around 8am and this is mostly due to the fact that it is very difficult to play God with something you’ve put so much time and effort into. In one instance, after deliberating for awhile because one lamb had witnessed another as it was in the throws of death and had become frightened, we decided to spare it for the time being because our primary concern was that the animal never suffered in the slaughter process and that hopefully death went unnoticed. Another interesting note, concerning the slaughter of a cow, was that after shooting it in a field grazing happily amongst its peers in order to make sure it wasn’t expecting is final moment, all the other cows didn’t flinch as though they didn’t notice at all. Somehow this made me feel better.

Please click on the links below if you’d like to see how something like humane, small-scale slaughter is done. The photos could be considered gruesome so beware, but I would just like to say that I only consider them to be honest.

CHICKEN SLAUGHTER

COW SLAUGHTER