I posted this elsewhere a few years ago, but some recent pieces at life of the hand/life of the mind and Something New Please brought it back to mind. (Also some of the self-righteous faux-animal-lovin’ commenters on this Gawker post kinda chapped my hide.)
I’m a vegetarian for 25 years, but nothing militant and not from any particular love of animals; it’s more because of how removed we’ve become in the eating of ‘em. (Gonna be kind of a long one for me, so you might want to grab a snack.)
By now we all know the horror stories, the Food Inc. stories, the Fast Food Nation stories, the cows and chickens getting stuffed full of corn in overcrowded shit-filled pens stories, the Monsanto owns the world stories. It’s no longer life; it is only filler, engineered for “mouth feel.” A hen ranks the same as a Coco-Puff, and I doubt most people bother to taste the difference.
My husband eats meat, as does everyone else in our family (even the dog is on a raw meat diet). Since I do most of the cooking in our house, it means I cook most of the meat in our house, though I can’t taste whatever I’m preparing and the feel of it gives me the willies and I don’t like the smell. Sure, others would call this hypocritical, maybe you would call this hypocritical, but screw them (and you). I figure, better it be done by me, so uncomfortably conscious of the flesh in my hands and how it probably got there; it’s not a ritual, I don’t chant prayers of thanks to some animal spirit gazing down on me, or any of that touchy-feely poppycock. This beast had no idea of how its life should have been, but I do. So I mourn a little, because really: what a lousy way to live. If this was 100 years ago, if I had to raise or hunt my own? I’d be eating ‘em, too. Fair and square.
We live up the road from the farm where we’ve bought lamb, so that’s something; also it’s a short hop to numerous other farms for any number of things (please don’t use the word “locavore” because I hate that trendy nonsense). But that’s a rare thing these days in the western world, to be on a first-name basis with the guy who grew your food — so unusual in our modern lives that it’s almost considered a luxury, and people often comment about how “expensive” farmers markets can be. The very idea has been factoried right out of us.
And I guess that’s my whole point with this overlong meander. You like a thick juicy hamburger? I got no problem with that. It’s not my business what other people eat; it’s a choice we make, like religion and politics, and usually less strife-filled to boot. I myself enjoy a nice slab of chocolate cake, and there’s all kindsa animal stuff in those, plus that Monsanto-engineered-mouth-feel. Enjoy that burger. Don’t wolf it down like it’s nothing new. Taste it. Relish it. Be conscious of it. It wasn’t always rocket fuel.
Then maybe if you find a few extra bucks in your pocket that you don’t mind parting with, and you happen to find yourself in the vicinity of a farm stand…I mean, is three bucks really that much for a carton of eggs?
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Cows at Straits View Farm, c. 2010
Fujifilm Neopan 400
(Yeah, I’ve been in a ranty mood lately…)