It is possible to treat your food with love and respect while it is still living. When taking a life for your food, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. True animal husbands know the difference and practice the art of agriculture with the thought for the wellbeing of the animal all the way to the table. I love doing things myself, but in the case of that actual killing and slaughter of my food animals, I think I will always leave that to the skilled tradesmen in this field.
However, as I am always curious, I have found a site that will educate you on the taking of life for the support of life. Farmstead Meatsmith is a place where you can go to see the craft of taking life and making meat. Here is a link to web videos of the harvesting of meat. It will make you uncomfortable, but this is a necessary part of life–because life feeds on life. My modern sensibility is offended by the sight of my meat being prepared for me, but if I were a do-it-yourself man then I would be used to this. As a boy I often prepared meats that my Dad had taken while hunting. I have skinned rabbits and squirrels, cleaned fish and fowl. What makes these larger animals different then? For me it is their largeness, their familiar construction. When they are opened up to remove their organs the big organs look like what I think my own look like.
These animals are here on the Earth, fed and protected by us, for this one thing. They exist to feed something, someday. If they were wild it would be the wild predator. If they were lucky and never fell prey to a big cat or wolf then they would die and provide food for scavengers and flies. Everything feeds something. If they are well cared for, live their lives without stress, and die without terror, then we have done all we could to make what they do for us not be a burden on them.
I cannot say this about the poor cattle and hogs that spend their lives, or the last months of their lives confined by the thousands, huddled in filth, slaughtered in terror. The last six months for beef is spent eating unnatural foods, taking antibiotics to increase the weight gain and defend against epidemic, eating grains that sicken them almost to death. From there they are crowded into the slaughterhouse where they are tortured if they are barely able to stand. Hogs spend their entire lives, from the suckling piglet to the slaughterhouse in horrifying tight confinement. No person would want this for them if they were forced to watch it. The people raising them this way are ‘just doing their jobs’. Like Hannah Arendt said, it is the “banality of evil”. Our industrial food animals are only treated this way for one reason, profit.
I was thinking about finding some youtube videos of animal treatment in the industrial system so that you could compare that to the way it is done by an animal husband, but I decided in the end not to do that. The videos are horrible to watch, the animals are obviously terrified, and I would hope that my just describing it that way would be enough to make my point. My point is that cheap meat is not worth raising and killing animals in horror. This is yet another argument for you to find a farmer to raise your food animals right up until they are processed into meat for you.
Watch the videos on the meat smith site to see how it can be done. It is a shame that life must feed on life, but whether it’s plant or animal, something must die for us to live.
I love the philosophy, love and craft that is evident in this twenty minute video. I recommend that you watch it, to see how much care is put into processing food the right way, so that you can continue the respectfulness shown to your food all the way to your dinner table. I am not a praying man, but I can see where one would thank his food animals for their gifts to us at the beginning of every meal.