Saturday, December 19, 2009

losing my religion

I'm hitting a point in my life as a small-scale producer that makes me question certain things. Since I started raising my own vegetables, eggs, baked-goods, and learning to source my dairy closer to home—I realized there is another abundant source of healthy natural food I've been ignoring: meat.

I've been a vegetarian for nearly a decade. I became one because it seemed like the logical and responsible personal choice after learning about the factory farm system. I didn't want to be a part of that, so I stopped eating all meat altogether. Honestly, I never missed it. Some people go vegetarian and start crumbling at the knees at the smell of sizzling bacon, but not me. Sure, I get a little nostalgic, but never had another bite after that choice was made. This made so much sense to me because all the meat in our stores was shipped from Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) but now that I'm living in the rural Northeast, and have so much local, grass-fed meat around me—I am beginning to wonder about that original decision's validity.... Within ten miles of this cabin there is free-range beef, lamb, and poultry. There is a rabbit farm, a thriving trout stream, and a freezer full of all these things wating for me at Wayside. Have I been avoiding meat out of plain old habit, or worse...pride? Have I been selfish, and wrong, to buy organic tofu from California trucked on a oil-guzzling rig all the way to Vermont when there was rabbit stew a walk down the road waiting for me?

Catherine Friend (the author of Hit By a Farm, a beginner shepherding book I adore) recently published a book called The Compassionate Carnivore, and it is amazing. Written by a small sustainable farmer in Minnesota, Catherine raises her own poultry, lamb, and beef. She spends an entire volume talking about the kindness for animals (and activism) local meat entails. I know to some of you that may sound batty. Some vegetarians will never look at eating any animal as compassionate - but hear me out. Her reasoning is solid.

Friend's argument for grass-fed, humanely-raised meat is simple—if you care about animal welfare, support the system doing it right. If you think the factory farm convention is cruel, don't put your money into that business. As consumers our dollars are our voting ballots. Paying for local, organic, meat shows the industry we not only refuse them, but will reward the farmers we feel are doing things better. This is simple business. The factory farm industry exists because it makes money. Personally, I don't care if they change their practices because it's bad business to mistreat animals, I just want those pigs out of those steal cages. When the big wigs in the meat packing industry see droves of people going back to their neighborhood farms...things will change. So will the lives of pigs. Catherine made me understand that eating happy meat makes these changes happen. I'm starting to doubt my old food religion. For me, it makes less and less sense.

You can eat all the veggie burgers you want, but buying fake meat makes you no longer collateral damage to the CAFO business. Vegetarians, by refusing to assist the small organic meat efforts, are simply quietly sitting out the controversy in this particular aspect. This is not an attack on vegetarians! This is exactly what I am doing! But you must understand that this persona decision to return to meat, as a future meat farmer, feels right. I want to support the farmers in my community letting their cows out on grass and letting their chickens dance in the sun. Actually, It seems ridiculous not to take part. I think I'm just balking at change. It feels like such a huge step after such a long time. What is it with me? I can move cross-country but eating a slice of my neighbor's cow feels like a major life change? Jeesh.

What do you folks think?

115 Comments:

Blogger Nicole said...

Hi Jenna!

I've been lurking around on your blog for a few months, but this is my first time commenting. After being a vegetarian for 8 years, last year I made the very same decision to start eating (local, free-range) meat again and I can honestly say that I have no regrets. I am proud to support the entire spectrum of our local farmers, including those that raise various meats.

By the way, I recently read your book and thought it was truly inspiring. My partner and I have gone on many of the same journeys in the past 2-3 years (while living in a townhouse in the city), so I often laughed aloud while reading your stories, which I could often relate to. I'm planning to try out your coffee recipe one of these days ;)

Best,

Nicole

December 19, 2009 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger smacdonn said...

I've been a vegetarian for a few years now. I did it because I was eating terribly and needed to make a positive change in my diet. I didn't do it out of outrage over the system, that came later.

I've thought a lot about what I would do if I raised chickens. In fact, it was your talking about Chuck Klosterman that really made me think about it. Would I get to a point where *I* would eat them? Certainly the idea of having to slaughter an animal isn't the problem to me. I don't think I would eat it at this point in my life. I have no problem with the idea of eating an animal, there just isn't much appeal to me. More likely, I would give it away.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you're comfortable with. If local meat is something that you want to support, than you should do it.

December 19, 2009 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

We get our beef from a neighbor down the road who treats his steers very, very well and, quite frankly, needs the money brought in by selling the beef every year. It feels good to help support someone we know and respect who is trying to sustain the small farming life he was raised to, not to mention get heathful food for ourselves. In the meantime, we've also been able to "convert" some suburban family members to small-ag awareness by sharing this beef with them.

(We also butcher and eat our own chickens, turkeys, ducks, and rabbits.)

So, at the risk of offending veggie readers out there, I guess I'll chime in and say that I think there is definitely validity to the argument in favor of supporting those humanely raising meat animals, and giving those who choose to eat meat and can't raise meat animals themselves an alternate to the factory system.

However, whether or not you choose eat meat is entirely a personal decision, and I couldn't tell anyone else that they should or shouldn't.

December 19, 2009 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Geeka said...

I think that if you return to eating meat, it will be within how you think about the world.

I do this thing called 'vote with your money'. I live in a large city. I don't agree with Wal-mart, or China, so I don't buy things from there. You didn't agree with the CAFO, so you didn't buy meat from them. However, I also will go to 'handmade arcade' to buy things, or go to my LYS, and buy things. You are going to do the same thing with meat.

Your philosophy is still the same: you are not going to cave to pressure, and you are going to make an effort to promote the things that you agree with.

Go for it.

December 19, 2009 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger girlandcat5 said...

Jenna,

This is something I have been thinking about a lot as well. I have been veggie for almost 18 years after growing up on a farm and refusing to eat any of the animals because i thought it was cruel, i now realize that they had a great life and were killed humanly. Now that i plan to go back to farming I have been toying with the idea of raising a few meat animals in an effort to be truly self sufficient,i believe that decision is the right one both from a health and ethical perspective. I think that supporting local organic farmers is one of the best ways to show our unhappiness with the current factory farm situation and hopefully affect some change.

December 19, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger LEON said...

You asked if any men read this blog. Yes, I am a 69 yr old man who lives in South Georgia with my wife and daughter. I read you almost every day and am always interested in what you have to say. We live on 3 acres just outside a small rural town. Keep trying to grow fruit trees and a garden. Keep on keeping on at what you are doing. You have the right ideas.

December 19, 2009 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger small farm girl said...

Jenna, me and my husband have been growing and eating out own grass fed beef for 12 years. It's something I am proud of. Our cattle (we have 7) are on 50 acres of nice rolling hills. All the grass they can eat. Grass that doesn't get chemical fertilizer. We grow all the hay we feed them too. Our cattle are treated really well. We even give them names, not just numbered ear tags. It's hard kill something that you have raised from a baby, but when we do, we thank it for what it is giving us.

If more people could see the good way that some "local meat" is being raised, they wouldn't feel bad for eating it.

Thanks for your blog, I enjoy reading it very much.

Small Farm Girl.

December 19, 2009 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Good Morning Jenna,
I have lived on a farm all my life and can not imagine one any other way.
As a child my Dad and Mom raised a garden and meat for the table plus a cow for milk. Dad also hunted and trapped so we had plenty of wild game also.
When I married those skills continue with me. I can tell you the differince in the taste and quality of the meats and other foods is so much better there is no comparison.
True the small farm raised animals as it should be does have a better life. I have a small farm in upper Northern part of Arkansas with a group of different types of farm animals.
My husband and I moved here about five years ago from central Arkansas. In March I lost my husband to cancer.However I still have all my livestock and will continue with my plans for the farm. I hope to raise meat, milk,eggs and such for the local farmer markets here.These skills I am very familiar with I just have to expand somewhat.
I do read your blog and have read your book. I can certainly relate to your experiences and find your stories a joy to read.

Best of luck,
Cathy

December 19, 2009 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

I don't have the option of being a vegetarian. I have a medical condition that results in a supressed immune system and the "antidote" to that is plenty of animal protein. I actually tried going veggie and did indeed find that I got sick. A lot.

So the question for me is how to eat meat "correctly". I didn't think that much about it until recently and then saw something on TV about how the run-off from the CAFO chicken farms are killing the Chesapeake Bay. I eat a lot of chicken. I no longer want to be a part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution.

So I did some research and found a small farm near here that sells humanely raised beef, pork and chicken. I have a big freezer, so I get approximately 1 month's worth at a time. The difference in flavor is amazing. I'm supporting a small local farmer. And I have the peace of mind of knowing the animals I'm eating have lived well.

Humans evolved on the planet as hunter-gatherers - part of the eco-system we evolved in. It's a perfectly natural thing to do - and, if that meat is properly raised - very healthy.

I will be interested to know, if you switch back to meat, if you notice any change (health-wise).

December 19, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Jenna,

I was a vegetarian for 5 years so I understand where you are coming from. We buy our chickens, eggs, milk, beef and pork from local farms. I refuse to eat CAFO meat either. Yes, I pay more per pound for it. But, that's money that stays in my community supporting my neighbors and their efforts to make a difference. I vote with my dollar, too. And my dollar says animals that breathe fresh mountain air, eat grass and have room to roam are where mine will go.

I know the chickens, see them pecking bugs (all those "vegetarian diet" eggs in the grocery stores are not normal diets for chickens as you know!), soaking up sun, chasing each other around like chickens should do. I know the eggs and milk I feed my family are the healthiest possible choices for myself and the planet. We buy organic raw milk and know that the testing they are required to conduct guarantees us our milk is much less contaminated the "pasteurized" milk from milk pools.

The pigs that are our pork have a big pasture including the stumps they like to root around in. I've scratched them, hearing their grunts of happiness. These are happy, very well cared for animals. And we honor them every meal when we say grace to thank them for their sacrifice. But all the while knowing they lived the best possible life that could be given to honor them as well.

I can go on and on, it's a subject I'm very passionate about, sorry. But, suffice it to say, I'm behind your choice to eat local, free range meat.
~Vonnie, NH

December 19, 2009 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" last Spring, and while it's definitely broader than the meat issue, she did talk about CAFOs.

I'm one of those people who gets weak in the knees about bacon - up until recently, I'd just eaten as little meat as possible, and mostly fish and chicken. Could never go vegetarian. I didn't know there was another way and just dealt with it unhappily.

I 100% agree with you on where we buy our meat being our voting points, and by not eating meat, we lose a vote! While it's easy enough for me to just find a local farm and buy my meat from them, as a vegetarian, this is a HUGE decision. There is no right, only right for you. As smacdonn posted, Chuck Klostermann is a good point. I would have no qualms about eating Chuck. He had a wonderful life, was treated well, and swiftly dispatched. What's more humane than that?

Here in DC, I found a restaurant that buys their meats and vegetables from small local farms. Because of this, and ONLY because of this, I had lamb for the first time in 15 years. Usually even being in the presence of it turns my stomach - but, I was really, really OK with THIS lamb. And that was huge.

Good luck - I know you'll make the decision that's right for you. I'm adding this book to my "to read" list.

Amanda

I recognize

December 19, 2009 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I've never been a vegetarian. But I did begin a transition to humanely raised meat when I understood what was going on with CAFOs. Michael Pollan is right that most eaters simply "turn away" from the reality of where their food comes from. Vegetarianism is an alternative to such willful ignorance. But so is ethical meat eating. I fully support local, sustainable, and humane meat production.

For me life is about quality, not quantity. This is especially true for animals who have no foreknowledge of death. Animals exist in the present. If today is good, life is good. If today's conditions are bad, life is bad. That's what make CAFOs such a complete horror. But that's also what allows me to both put down a beloved pet in decline, and slaughter my underproducing hens at a point when they could still live a few more years. When the pet's life was no longer good, there was no sense in prolonging it. When the livestock's life has been good, there was no loss in ending it humanely. The life was a good one, however short.

What I've found since we completely gave up conventional meat is that we eat a lot less of it. Partly that's because it's expensive. But more than that I think is the sense that I have of how very precious meat is: a creature's life. Now we save bacon fat, and always make stock from bones. That fat or that stock has become the "meat" in many dishes where there is no hunk of animal flesh taking center stage. And having a steady supply of our own eggs means we have abundant protein in our diet without the need for too much meat.

December 19, 2009 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

This are EXACTLY the thoughts I have been trying to impart to my two girls who are 14 and 18, and are vegetarians out of feeling that it is simply CRUEL to kill an animal to eat it. It is a simplistic view of the world, and one I shared for awhile at 21. I know that at 46, after reading Animal, Veg, Mir, and your blog, and Michael Pollan's work, etc. I have come to realize just exactly what you are saying. I feel that it is ok to eat animals that have had a nice life, been allowed to graze, etc. Particularly, I find it easy to eat venison, bc I know if people don't, actual HARM will come to the population bc of it. I also have found it VERY hard to eat chicken from the store anymore, bc I think how THEY are raised is so cruel. My daughters are not really evolved enough yet in their thinking processes to realize what you have said - that perhaps eating tofu is WORSE than eating a happily raised chicken. I'm working on them. I think maybe the book you've mentioned might be a good one for them to read as well, so I appreciate you bringing it to our attention. I think LESS meat, and MORE veggies would be good for everyone. But I also think THOUGHTFUL EATING is best. Let us know what you decide. I will be interested to know what your first non-vegetarian meal is, if you enjoy it, and how it affects your system after all these years of NOT eating meat. DOES it have an effect? Let us know. Will also be interested to read other people's opinions on this topic - seems so far like even people who have been vegetarian for many years are not as opposed to your ideas, and the reasons behind them, as I might have thought. Curious.

December 19, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Aydan said...

When I learned about the factory farming industry about 14 months ago, I did not become a strict vegetarian. Instead, I just stopped eating factory-farmed meat. That meant I ate a lot less meat, and I got most of it at the farmers' market. Now, a year later, I find myself not even eating the two servings a week I prescribed for myself back then, and I often contemplate going completely vegetarian, mostly for the environmental benefits (and because I find myself liking the taste of meat less over time). However, one significant reason I keep eating meat is because I want to support the practice of raising animals humanely, with my dollars.

And yes-- your point about tofu trucked in from California is why I try to limit the soy-based stuff I eat, too. It's convenient, but the Amazon is clearcut for soybean production as well as cattle grazing. I don't want to be a part of that.

So, I think it's possible to be omnivorous in a humane way, as long as you think it's acceptable to kill an animal to eat it at all. And it sounds like you do.

December 19, 2009 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

First off, I love hearing comments from people who have been lurking, but rarely join in the conversation. It makes me feel like something I said struck a chord, and makes my day.

Second, I am so happy to hear such support. I don't really know many of you, and worry posts about killing a rooster or going back to meat will hurt, let down, or offend people. So to hear stories from others who faced the same decision and feel okay about it, makes me feel grand.

I wish we could all sit down and talk about this stuff over coffee. Someday you guys need to come to Antlerstock and share a lambchop with me!

December 19, 2009 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger djp said...

I've been a vegetarian for 18 years, and I've never looked back. I've even scaled back on my consumpiton of fake meat. But I absolutely sympathise with you Jenna.

I'm a chef, and I handle meat regularly. I try to make sure the meat we use at work is humane, but that isn't always my decision.

I can, however, control the meat that enters my home. And I do, whether it is to feed my boyfriend, my friends or my cats, I try to get sustainable meats.

If you have a ready source of clean meats, and you want to go back, you shouldn't deprive yourself.

Just don't go whole hog carnivore!Everything in moderation!

December 19, 2009 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger karental said...

Jenna,

I totally agree with you. My husband and I try to eat locally grown meats. We both love lamb but we can't get any local here where we are, so we do without. Good luck on your journey. Eat Chuck. You'll know he had a good life and you'll savor every morsel. Do you know how to make dumplings?

December 19, 2009 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Jenna -

It's a great decision and makes perfect sense.
:)

December 19, 2009 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Karental, do you have a recipe? I'd like to learn!

December 19, 2009 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Angi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 19, 2009 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Angi said...

I became a vegetarian about 6 years ago for the same reasons as you - I wanted to eat humanely but locally grown meat was not readily available in my area. Over the years this has changed and now I am considering adding meat back into my diet. The idea started taking hold after reading Animal, Veg., Miracle and a few other books. The notion really took hold though after your post about Chuck.
I am finding that I am still struggling with the idea of taking another life but I think this might be a result of reading so many animal rights articles over the years. It is a somewhat scary realization that your opinions may not really your own and that maybe they just came along with the crowd you found yourself in. I am currently reading Covenant of the Wild by Stephen Budiansky and am going to check out The Compassionate Carnivore next. I'm sure these books will give me a lot more to think about!

December 19, 2009 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Rosanne said...

I am only beginning to realize the extent of the damage done by CAFO's -- just watched Food,Inc. two nights ago and was appalled and saddened at what has been going on -- I really had no idea it was that bad.
Jenna, I believe that you and those who've commented here are right on. If enough of us began supporting local farming we could make important changes not only in the industry, but also in the health of our own lives.
This has really got me thinking!
Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment, too!

December 19, 2009 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...

My Lakota great-grandfather was a very spiritual man. He hunted when he lived with my family until his death in 1998. He used the entire animal and would share with those in need of food. He often said a blessing before and after the death of the animal. I know that some folks in town thought of him as odd. He often said, "I need to do this practice for me to be in right relationship with Spirit."

Now my family and I buy local meat, eggs, dairy, and veggies (not grown in the garden) from a CSA farm just miles down the road. Buying a share is our way of gifting each other for Solstice and Christmas.

December 19, 2009 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Rosanne said...

p.s. I've also heard that the book "Righteous Porkchop" by Nicolette Hahn Niman is a very good read on this subject. I'm gonna check it out!

December 19, 2009 at 11:20 AM  
OpenID oxrayfarm said...

We faced this problem only a few months ago. After all the standard books read, it seamed the oil involved in brining us our tofu was cruel too.

I still am not a fan of cow meat, I have some in my freezer just waiting until I get brave. However we do have a local chicken farmer who sells his organic, free range chix's.

Our idea is this, when the summer bounty is rolling you over and all the greens, beans, and fruit get stockpiled in the fridge.... be a veggie head. In the winter when produce is short and the body craves more fat....eat more meat.

I do need to read that book though, I heard about it before the change over. Now it seams an appropriate read.

Recipe suggestion:

Braise Chuck, it makes the meat very tender and lovely, then roast him with some really good root veggies, warm bread and hard apple cider!

With the leftover meat make chicken noodle soup, with dumplings. Yum.

Good luck!

December 19, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger buildasnowman said...

I returned to eating meat a few years ago after being a vegetarian for 10+ years. My reasons for returning to meat were a little bit different; I did primarily because I knew I'd be going on a trip to India and staying with family friends who might be breaking their budgets to give us chicken/lamb curry for dinner.

I hadn't craved meat in years, and it honestly didn't even look good to me any more. I remember going into whole foods and looking around at their deli, trying to find something that contained meat and looked good to me. I finally settled on tortilla soup, but the whole process took about 45 minutes.

These days I try to eat local meat (although I'll admit that I'm not always that successful). Have you read Animal Vegetable Miracle? That book changed my thinking about tofu, just as I suspect the book you mentioned will give me knew ways to think about the money that I do put into the meat industry. I'll have to check it out.

December 19, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Chandelle said...

"You can eat all the veggie burgers you want, but buying fake meat makes you no longer collateral damage to the CAFO business."

I'm not sure what kind of vegetarian you are, but I'm not the sort of vegetarian who eats a lot of soy-based fake food. The bulk of my vegetarian diet comes from vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, at least 90% of which is produced within driving distance on organic multi-crop farms. I live in N. CA, so this is easy for me. I realize it isn't so easy for others. So I can't prescribe my choice to others - this is my individual choice and my individual circumstances. But I find it very irritating that a vegetarian diet is written off by small farmers as being all about soy monocrops. I don't eat soy but once a week and it comes from a small multi-crop organic farm two hours away. It's in whole-food form as miso or tempeh, not dressed-up as a fake animal food.

If you're going to start eating meat, I hope you won't become one of those ex-vegetarians painting those who continue eschewing animal flesh in stark black & white terms and pronouncing judgments about soy monocrops and fake foods. It's not that way for many of us, especially those of us aspiring to our own small family farm. It's somewhat insulting to be herded into a stereotype.

That being said, I support your choice if you feel that's right for you. But I confess that when I read your book, I was so excited to read that you were a vegetarian. My partner and I have wanted to homestead together since we met. We know a lot of small farmers in our area, and all of them (ALL of them!) are ex-veg. It was so heartening to hear that someone could produce their own food as a vegetarian. It gave us hope that we could embrace the lifestyle of homesteading without ultimately sacrificing our ethics. In fact, we've always had some nebulous idea about even adopting animals sanctuary-style from Farm Sanctuary, which is two hours away.

There are plenty of local producers of meat and dairy around us, and many of our friends slaughter their own cows, chickens, lambs, etc. So this isn't an issue of not know how great these animals have it. I respect and love our animal-slaughtering friends. :) But for me, deep inside, I cannot imagine destroying a life unless it's essential to save my own. I realize that animals are destroyed in the production of my plant foods, but I do try to avoid large farms that are harder on the land and the animals who live there. In everything I do, I try to have the least impact on my landbase and the creatures who share it with me. I understand the argument in favor of eating certain kinds of meat to protect animals, but I know that I can't raise a hand against an animal myself - and I won't pay someone else to do my dirty work. I choose to participate in and support a healthier food system in other ways. There's a place for all of us at that table, right?

So ultimately, I guess what I want to say is, 1) I'm happy that so many people are being conscious about the way they eat, and if you must eat meat, that's obviously the best way to do it, but 2) please don't start condescending to and stereotyping vegetarians.

December 19, 2009 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Hi Jenna,

I've been vegetarian (of a kind, I eat fish), for more than 30 years. As with so many of us my decision was based on my revulsion for factory farming methods, and a refusal to be a part of that system. 30+ years ago in England, grass-fed meat was hard to come by so it was simpler to just go veggie. I have never missed meat, although I grew up loving it. Honestly, I discovered that I find the texture of it kinda repulsive, and that goes for the fake meat substitutes too, (what is the point of them?). And that is why I expect to remain veggie for the rest of my long, healthy life. I rarely get sick since I quit eating factory farmed, hormone and antibiotic laden meat.
I've never been evangelical about my choice. It was just that: a choice. I'm happy to explain it's basis when I'm asked, but I don't make a fuss about it, or require anyone else to accommodate it. I've just got smart about avoiding the things that are likely to have meat fat /stock or other derivatives in them since my body does a really poor job of digesting them now.
I see nothing wrong with eating humanely raised animals. For heavens sake, it's not as if they'd be capable of taking care of themselves "in the wild"! They are domesticated breeds, and as the species that did the domesticating, we have a duty to care for them. Don't you think?
So, in my opinion, if you want to eat locally grown, sustainably raised meat, and support your local community while you do it, (especially with the firm idea of becoming a productive member of that community, as soon as you possibly can),well, Jenna, good for you. If it feels right, do it.
I think most of us here would actively support that decision, and if a few find it offensive, I'd have to wonder a bit about their grasp on reality.

December 19, 2009 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Wanda Barrett said...

Seems like a good idea to point out the health hazards of eating fake meat. It seems obvious to most people that processed chicken nuggets sold in a box in the freezer are bad for us, but for some reason it's okay to live on over-processed soy products with tons of chemicals and artificial ingredients. Boy I sound really grumpy about this. Well my teenage daughter eats this way and it really bothers me. When she's home, I try to encourage better habits - like making bean burgers from scratch - but when she's in school, who knows what she eats! Jenna, it's a tough choice that we all face at each and every meal. Good for you voting with your dollar, whatever you decide.

December 19, 2009 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger me said...

Jenna, I agree with you 100%.
While I am not in the position (financially) to eat just local meat, I am still a victim of the big chain grocery store. I hate it! Since I started raising my own chickens, I have not bought a single store-bought egg. When coyotes and raccoons wiped out most of my flock, I found a local grower. But, recently my friend gave us some of his grass-raised beef that was out of this world, and I'm trying to talk my husband into raising one with them. We'll see. Next year, I plan on raising broiler chickens and butchering them myself. I'd also love to raise a pair of turkeys. I have room for a couple of pigs, so together with the garden, I hope to be pretty self-sufficient in the next 2 or 3 years.
I can't wait to have that feeling that all the meet in the freezer was grown for a purpose, but with lots of love and a great life!

December 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

This is a great post and makes me feel like maybe change is happening! I was raised eating whole food and to know that the food isn't bad - just watch out for what man does to it! You will never be better than what you eat and if that cow (pig, chicken) was raised standing in his droppings, that is what you are eating.

Take a good look at how any conveniece food is processed, what goes into it and I'd bet none of us would eat it again. The food industry spends billions of dollors on "developement" or ways THEY can make money. It's not about us folks, never was.

I've always held the belief that God made us, the animals and the plants to work together. We keep them healthy, they keep us healthy. Know your food. Eat it before someone else processes it. And that usually means you have to shop and eat local. I'm 62 and still healthy as a horse.

December 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Jenna, I am a former vegetarian who recently found herself at the same point as you...I now eat meat during the cold dark winter months. During warmer months there is a far greater abundance of vegetables and eggs, and it just seems more natural to "go veg" at those times.

I think it strikes the best balance -- eating not just locally and organically, but also seasonally. Remember, if you're a vegetarian dining on fruits, grains and veggies NOT available in your area during winter (in addition to the soy products), that is also contributing to pollution.

We eat entirely out of our garden for our vegetables all year round, and were it not for adding local chicken and meat to our diet in winter, we would not be able to survive on the spinach, kale, onions and peas we are currently harvesting. The hens aren't laying much right now, so there's little local protein available. On the other hand, in summer, we can comfortably exist almost entirely on the eggs and veggies growing in abundance on our land, and eat meat only rarely during those "green" months.

I actually feel closer to the land eating seasonally like this. You may, too.

December 19, 2009 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger kakimbr said...

Mmmmm! After working all day then coming home to the chores of the farm, then inside for a good rabbit stew with some fresh baked bread to "sop" up the gravy for a cold winter evening meal!! MMMMMmmmm, so good it would make a puppy pull a freight train!!!

December 19, 2009 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Butts said...

Jenna,

You gotta try some good wild game too. Our family's meat comes primarily from deer, small game and fish that my husband happily provides for us. The only other meat we buy is from a local pork producer. My kids prefer wild game over other meats, as do we!
We thank the animals for giving their lives, it is not taken lightly.

I can see where you would be ready to step back into the omnivourious world, it is a big decision though!

December 19, 2009 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger j.c. said...

This is the decision I have made, to eat only humanely raised meat, eggs and dairy products in our home. I really like supporting our local farmers and feel that this is the most sustainable solution. Our dairy farmer sells part of his raw, grassfed milk to our herd share program and the rest to the big dairy conglomerate, which of course, gives him an insanely low price for his product. He said he would probably be out of business if it weren't for the money coming in from the herd share. It makes me feel good to help a farmer who works incredibly hard to stay on the family farm.

We don't eat outside the home much, perhaps once a week and I would really like to eat vegan at these times but so far have not found the willpower to do so. :( It does make me want to eat at much at home as possible, which is a good thing, because we are eating healthier, local foods.

I will definitely check out the book, it looks like a good one.

December 19, 2009 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger E said...

No, being a vegetarian doesn't mean that I am "quietly sitting out the controversy". I advocate against the new Canadian meat regs, cook meat for my partner & son, and even raise animals. My personal decision to not eat meat doesn't mean I am silent when it comes to "the controversy".

December 19, 2009 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I think you are exactly right.

December 19, 2009 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Robj98168 said...

Personally, I am not a vegetarian or vegan, even though I still participate in Meat Free Mondays (meatfreemondays.org) Of course, I am the one who had a problem with Chuck's demise- of course I realize A) the axe didn't come easily for you, B)He was a bad rooster 3) I really like Coq Au vin

Now let me also add that tofurkey is a sad subsitute for Turkey, And the pig my aunt named after me (she was funny) and the bull she has that tried to do an impression of what not to do in a bull fight with me- well they were mighty tasty!

December 19, 2009 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday. We live near a Tyson plant here in Ky and seeing what happens to those chickens makes me so sick. But my family refuses to go meatless so we've been researching locally sourced meat in the area. We've found a few places within an hour drive, but they don't list prices. I'm a stay at home unschooling mom, so we don't have the luxury of duel income, but I'm determined to make the transition, so we'll find the money somewhere.

We've also been kicking around the idea of raising our own meat eventually. I'm all for it until I think about raising babies and then putting them on my plate. I've never been good at it. In fact my family would have to lie to me to get me to eat the goats and pigs that were slaughterd, b/c other wise I just couldn't do it. My dad would tell me that I was a hypocrite b/c I wouldn't go hunting but would eat the deer. I know that he was right, but it was just something I couldn't get my mind around. We were wondering if there was a way to trade boarding services in exchange for meat, maybe it will lesson the attachmetnt factor. If anyone out there has any experience with this we'd love to hear about it.

December 19, 2009 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 19, 2009 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Robyn M. said...

I think it is worth remembering that people become vegetarians for lots of different reasons. For some, it's a matter of treating animals compassionately, but with the belief that one appropriate role for animals is as food (and sometimes as workers) for humans. In this case (and I fall into this camp), the choice described by Jenna makes a lot of sense, and is exactly the line of reasoning I've been running on for years.

However, if one is a vegetarian for animal rights reasons, particularly ethical animal treatment (which is different from natural animal treatment), this argument will not fly. On this picture, and others like it, animals are not simply beings to be treated nicely or poorly before slaughtering to meet our (frankly, unnecessary in most cases) dietary preferences; their role as "food" is inappropriate and unethical, no matter how they were treated. As thinking, reasoning beings, we must respond to sentient creatures using our ethical capacities, not simply obeying the so-called laws of nature. Acting ethically, to some, means that treating animals nicely before slaughtering them doesn't make it all better--the act of slaughtering in the absence of a compelling need (and no, economic need would not be sufficient here, and probably shouldn't be) is a moral wrong. This is a poor adaptation of Peter Singer's line--and his work is compelling.

I'm not saying all of this to convince you that you're wrong; quite the contrary, I very much agree with you. But, if you try to use the argument that if you care about animals, therefore you *should* buy humanely-raised meat, this is at best going to fail on certain kinds of vegetarians, and at worst will be incredibly offensive, as it seems that you are presuming that if you are still a vegetarian, you don't truly care about animals.

December 19, 2009 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger S. Edwards said...

Wow --Another thought provoking post and interesting conversation. There is something in balance about the scale of local, small farm, open-range raised meat. It is scale appropriate and in balance in the big sense. I don't have room for anything other than my terrier (who would be happy to help my secure a squirrel or two for stew), but I raise a garden on in my small cottage yard and the sidewalk strip, and my meat and eggs come from the farmers market four blocks from the house. The farms are all local and it works. I can't eat mass produced meat --you can tast the difference once you switch. I also eat less meat overall which I think is more in balance too. I think it is a natural conclusion you've come too, but it is a personal choice. I'd say go with oxrayfarm's suggestion and braise up Chuck and have the leftovers with dumplings! That and fresh trout with eggs for breakfast really is something else.

December 19, 2009 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

I think if you raise animals for eggs and milk that there is meat as a by-product (excess males, culls, older animals). Or even if you do not personally eat the animals, as a vegetarian (not vegan), you are contributing to their deaths when you buy dairy and eggs.

That said, I would be very hard pressed to eat my own animals. I hope to find someone to help me with slaughtering some, at some point. For example, I just hatched 14 chicks. It is becoming apparent that there are a number of "extra" roosters that I will have to either sell or eat. Since I am not a vegetarian (I don't eat much meat but I do eat it), it is stupid for me to eat factory farmed meat and sell what I have raised myself.

All I can say is, it's a tough decision. Most of the animals I have here are individuals to me. I think the ideal situation would be for someone else to eat what I have raised and vice versa. I think that makes me kind of a hypocrite, though, although I think I could live with that compromise. The alternative, of complete veganism, doesn't seem right or healthy to me, either.

December 19, 2009 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger laluna said...

Great post, Jenna, and it's the only way we've eaten any kind of meat over the past few years - all chicken, eggs, and most dairy consumed is purchased through our CSA share and the farmers market for beef. And we only eat wild, fresh-caught fish. As far as nutritional "necessity," I encourage you (and anyone else interested for that matter) to check out Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions for lots of recipes but also for the science behind the food. (Much of that information can also be found at her website: http://www.westonaprice.org/)

December 19, 2009 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

I think eating your local source of protein makes more sense than buying foods that have to be trucked miles and who's source is unknown. Another point is to eat the foods grown close to you. If you have a lentil or bean farm close buy then eat those, if you have a local source of humanely farmed meat and you want to eat that then go for it.
It doesn't matter what any other person says to you you do what feels right to you.

December 19, 2009 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

I was a vegetarian/vegaquarian for 23 years, primary because I felt that it was cruel to kill another sentient being. It turned out that I didn't do well on a veggie diet - or at least my version of it, which didn't contain enough protein - I was exhausted all the time and was a bit on the chubby side (probably from all the carbs). I decided to try eating meat to see if I felt better - and I did, almost instantly. I've been eating meat for about 7 years now, and I'm in much better health, ironically enough.

However, I still have a big problem with the idea of killing another animal. Grass-fed, free-range meat is indeed a better way to go, but taking someone else's life, no matter how the quality of that life was, seems hypocritical. Perhaps I would feel differently if I lived on a farm and was able to raise my own chickens etc. So I'm constantly in the midst of a spiritual(?) argument with myself about whether I'm a cruel human or not.

That said, I've always felt that the decision to eat meat is totally personal, and I've always hated when vegetarians get all preachy about it. It's funny - often when I would mention that I was a vegetarian, people would make excuses about why they ate meat, even though I never ever made any judgements. I used to hear the argument that humans weren't made to eat meat due to the length of their intestines, etc. but I don't buy it. Clearly we're omnivores, so we can make an intelligent decision about what we eat and not necessarily suffer for it, if we are smart about what we do eat.

You make a compelling argument about making a positive statement through eating locally raised, non factory-farmed meat. I buy non-CAFO meat whenever I can, but as mentioned it is sometimes prohibitively expensive. I've also learned how to cook really delicious bean-centric meals, something I should've done when I was a veggie.

In any case, I'll be interested to hear how your new meat-eating journey unfolds!

December 19, 2009 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

"Someday you guys need to come to Antlerstock and share a lambchop with me!"

That is SO going to happen! Lamb chops are gooooooooooood.

I feel the same way, although have never gone vegetarian (hubby and I tried it for a month - he managed way better than I did). I just feel really poorly if I go more than a few days without meat. We raise some of our own and buy the rest locally (all grass fed). In addition to it being the more responsible thing to do, we feel like it puts us a leg up in the self-sufficiency department too. We wanted to keep laying hens, and to not eat them at the end of their productive life just didn't make sense to us. Old laying hens, extra roosters and culls get eaten. Extra babies from dairy animals get eaten. Raising a hen for eggs and then disposing of the (perfectly edible) carcass just seems unforgivably wasteful to me. Also, in my climate, it's actually far easier to grow meat than vegetables, so if I want to feed myself, it would be foolish to close that particular door.

December 19, 2009 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Canadian Eh! said...

Jenna,
Jump right on in and start eating locally and humanely raised meat that is the best we can do. You are very right that we do vote with are dollars, it all starts with baby steps and know with a lot of people getting on boardthe movment will have that snowball effect we are looking for. And one day we will win.

I like that song,
Losing my religion (R.E.M.)

Come on over anytime you like for coffee and some go conversion with me and the family, your always welcome.

Again keep up the good writing,
Always looking forward to reading what you have writen.

Glenn

December 19, 2009 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger lime said...

you make a lot of sense. my middle daughter was a vegetarian for two years on ethical grounds but my husband and two other children are hunters....for meat, not trophy. accommodating each other in the same house for that period of time our vegetarian daughter eventually decided she could eat the meat we hunted in good conscience and we have considered a little more where our other sources of meat originate.

i think your decision is based on a sound desire for dialogue over dogma and i applaud it.

December 19, 2009 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I've been vegan for six years now and have come to a similar situation. I want to support the local farms (though Arizona is not known for farming) and I want to become self-reliant. For me, going vegan was not about the animals, but rather about my personal health. Mad cow disease still scares the bejeezus out of me, and I doubt I'll ever be able to eat another cow product again. But! I can see myself eating healthfully raised chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, goats, sheep, et cetera. It's a huge decision and don't worry about making the 'right' one. Whatever makes you feel good about yourself is the right one for you. I know within the next two years I'll be adding eggs back into my diet, but I'm not going to force myself to add them now, because I'm not comfortable with that action yet.

I made a deal with my family that if they bought a organically, happily raised goose for Christmas dinner, I would take part in eating it (as much as I can. It may end up being only a bite, though.) My family is very aware of the world's situation, and we take great pains to prepare ourselves for the worst. We have two generations living together now; it's more financially and ecologically friendly. My fiance and I live with my parents and three siblings. We have three incomes right now, as most of us are in college, and we all help out when needed.

Take baby steps, and know that you are not alone in transitioning from a non-meat lifestyle to a meat-included one. :D You have fewer steps to go than I do!

December 19, 2009 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger bellananda said...

although i don't usually, i feel that i must respond to this post -- because i'm in the same boat.

i became a vegetarian back in 2000, after (like you) learning about the CAFO system which caused the mad cow disease and hoof-and-mouth disease outbreaks all over europe and the U.S. (just as i was planning an excursion to the european countryside and it was being closed to visitors). the more i read about the industrial meat system in our country, the more ill it made me feel, so i opted out and went veg. and i bought tofu and who-knows-what-all imported to kansas from who-knows-where.

then i began the path which has brought me to the directorship of the kansas city CSA coalition -- it started with working in restaurants and learning about the preparation of food; then i sold pampered chef and decided that i was approaching food from the wrong end and wanted to learn more about the source of my food before trying to educate people about what to do with it; then i learned about the CSA concept through a friend and joined a fantastic CSA farm 5 years ago, learning about how food is grown, about the labors of food production, about the state of small-scale ag in the midwest, about the growing demand for "food with a face"; then i joined the kansas city food circle's board and, at the same time, volunteered to create this coalition and help pull this eaters-and-growers community together however i can.

in the course of all that, i discovered people raising animals for their meat who are incredibly passionate about performing their animal-husbandry duties -- from birth to plate -- in the highest, most respectful manner possible. they free-range their animals. they don't apply subtherapeutic medicines. some of them are so close to their animals that they name them (and feel no pang in acknowledging that they're enjoying "harry the pig" for breakfast because they know that harry's life was well-lived). they ensure that, if the animals can't be killed and processed on-farm, they know that the deed is done in a safe, humane manner at the processor. and i know who i can contact if i have questions about any step in the process. i even took a workshop about how to properly and humanely kill and butcher a chicken -- the instructor was even assisted by a local farmer who had brought her own homemade "killing cone" she'd fashioned from the leg of a pair of jeans (the chickens seemed to love wearing it like a sweater, but that could have been due to their skinniness and the chill of the day), which made the process much kinder and gentler both for me and the birds.

because i'd discovered these people, and because i've learned more about responsible agriculture practices using rotations of vegetation and animals to nourish our most important asset (the soil), i decided that opting out was no longer the responsible thing to do. if i'm going to be such a vocal responsible/sustainable food evangelist, then i should put my money where my mouth is and ensure that these wonderful people are supported and able to keep their farms -- their livelihoods going. because if they're not around, who will ensure that the animals we eat live happy lives and die respectful deaths? certainly not folks like dean foods, smithfield, tyson, and their ilk.

so i eat meat now, too -- from people i know and whose farms (and animals) i can visit. and i regularly patronize local restaurants who buy their meat from these farmers. and i try to persuade, in whatever manner i can, everyone i know to do the same. you never know -- the day may come when we may all need to have a few chickens in the backyard to keep body and soul together, and who will be there to teach us the best way to do it?

best,
season

December 19, 2009 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger yarrow said...

Jenna, I haven't read the other comments, so i may be repeating what others say. I raise meat animals--poultry and rabbits, and we're about to get goats for milk and meat. we're a very small scale organic farm. we process our own meat. i was a vegetarian for 8 years before having to come to terms with the fact that it's not nutritionally right for my body; i need meat. which obliges me to eat good meat, non-factory meat, which is one of the threads that led me to my farm. we honor our animals--and we honor the role we play as predators in our ecosystem. Here is our blog entry on that: http://community.livejournal.com/sunflowerriver/37022.html

i hope you have time to read it. it may provide more food for thought, as it were. vegetarianism *is* an ethical choice: you are not giving money to CAFOs by being a vegetarian. there's not only one answer to this; it's a many-headed problem. vegetarianism is part of the solution, and organic small-scale animal production is also part of the solution. your choices remain yours, whatever way you go.

December 19, 2009 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Canadian Eh! said...

Jenna
We are here to read what you post,is that not what a blog is about? If you offend someone with your writing (which is not demeaning in anyway) thats there problem. We dedicated readers are here for you no mater what you write about. Thats why we follow your blog. Be it killing chickens
or talking about eye liner that is your choice. we will be here to read it.

December 19, 2009 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Shari said...

Jenna,
Thought I'd add my two cents. I am a vegetarian, my husband is not. In fact, he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy.
I've been thinking about this lately too, especially after watching "Food Inc.". I'm looking for some local sources of happy meat to buy instead of getting it from the grocery store. I am already planning on splitting a pig with one of my vegetarian girlfriends next fall (her teenage son eats meat) from a local farmer. We are also going to get some chickens this Spring and attempt to raise those ourselves. I don't know if I will be eating any of this local happy meat or not. In general I don't find meat very appealing -- but I am not absolutely opposed to the idea.
Anyway, my main goal right now is to start getting my husband the healthier meat. I find the topic interesting and love that you got so many responses to your post. I'm happy so many people are returning to their local farmers. Have a great day everyone!

December 19, 2009 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger B's Mom said...

We have been eating meat from local farmers for over 10 years, and before a lot was published about CAFO's. It just made a lot of sense to support local farmers, and eat meat that was ethically treated. I shop at a local farmers market, and I talk to the farmers who raise the chickens, the cows, the pigs. Two summers ago, I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and it was a fantastic read. If you haven't read it, please do. She refers a lot to eating locally, rather than shipping your foods across the country. Good luck with your decision!

December 19, 2009 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Christie said...

personally my boyfriend and i hunt a lot (deer, sometimes geese, but mostly deer). it has been a long time since i have bought any red meat anywhere. we believe that eating deer that are wild and we harvest ourselves is by far the most humane thing we can do as well as healthy. their fat content is incredibly little, and the meat is always fresh and we know where it comes from and how we process it.

he recently read a book by michael pollan called the omnivores dilemma that was in his exact words "incredible". it even talks about corn being used as feed and stuff. i recommend that book for you to read as well. it is well worth it!

December 19, 2009 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Rhonda Jean said...

Jenna, I think you'll find a lot of us have the same thoughts. I was vegetarian for 10 years, not touching a bite of meat, nor wanting to, until I read Nourishing Traditions. It catapulted me back to meat. We don't eat it every day but every chicken and piece of meat we do eat is local and grass fed and usually organic as well.

December 19, 2009 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Tierney said...

Hi Jenna,

I'm in exactly the same place as you right now on this issue. I have been vegetarian for 10 years, and was even vegan for five until I started farming. Like you I never really missed it. I now completely support local meat - I proudly bring chicken, turkey and beef that I've helped raise home to my family when I visit. I've started eating things with meat stocks and fats, but I just haven't been able to jump in and eat meat. My mouth hasn't caught up with my mind! It feels like a really big life change, bigger than it seems on the surface.

Thanks for your blog, it is a daily dose of inspiration for me.

Tierney

December 19, 2009 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Human's are omnivorous.

December 19, 2009 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger laurie said...

While I have never been a vegetarian, I gave it a brief consideration after first learning about what is really going on out there in the industrial ag world. Further introspection brought me to a similiar place as you. If I become a vegetarian then I am just avoiding the issue and not helping it. So I now strive to eat only happy meat that is grown locally. The kind where I can look the farmer in the eye, shake their hand, and they know my name. I feel strongly that by doing this and voting with my dollars that my small contribution will make a difference!

December 19, 2009 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Becca Rimmel said...

I think another really important thing to consider when choosing between a locally grown, humanely raised burger and a veggies burger, is the general sustainability of both.

I think it's much easier to make responsible, sustainable choices with locally raised meat, then it is with mass-produced veggie products (even if the are labeled organic).

December 19, 2009 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger mk said...

Barbara Kingsolver wrote about this beautifully in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". She is a vegie turned carnivore and points out that none of the heirloom breeds will survive unless there is a market for their meat. A poignant moment comes when her 8 year old daughter (who loves chickens like I love dogs) has to make a decision about raising birds for eggs or meat. She goes for both, but realizes the prudence of killing some of the roosters (only the mean ones) for profit. But also for balance and peace in the henyard, a subject you've recently come to terms with. Great read on a complex issue.

December 19, 2009 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Mud Mama said...

I fully believe being a locavore makes the biggest personal impact on our planetary impact wrt food.

December 19, 2009 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger karental said...

Karen's Aunt's Chicken and Dumplings

Stewed Chicken

1 good-sized chicken, salt and pepper to taste, one bay leaf, 1 stalk celery (use some tops, too), pinch of sage, one medium onion

Cut chicken into serving pieces. Put chicken, salt, pepper, one bay leaf, 1 chopped stalk of celery, a pinch of dry sage, and a whole, sliced onion into a dutch over that has a tight fitting lid (important for the dumplings to cook correctly). Cover all with boiling water and 1/3 C cider vinegar (not sure why my aunt used cider vinegar. Guess it was a secret...) Cover and simmer until meat is tender, usually 90 minutes to two hours. Remove the onion, celery, and bay leaf with a slotted spoon. Blend 1/2 C flour with 1/2 C water to make a smooth paste. Increase heat and slowly add the flour mixture to the chicken and thicken to make gravy.

Dumplings

Mix 2 C flour, 4 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt into mixing bowl. Cut in 1 Tbs shortening or bacon fat (I use shortening). Mix 1/2 C evaporated milk with 1/2 C water and stir just until soft dough is formed. Drop by spoonsful on top of chick. Try not to let the dumplings fall into the liquid. Put lid on quickly, turn up the heat and keep the lid on for 12 minutes.

Karen's tips:

Taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning before you drop the dumplings in. I have made the dumplings with regular milk, so don't worry if you don't have condensed. I drop the dumplings by tablespoon. Sometimes I mix fresh parsley into the dumplings.

Good luck.

December 19, 2009 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger karental said...

Oops, I forgot - of course you need to remove the meat from the bones and put it back in the pot when you remove the celery and onions... sorry.

December 19, 2009 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger mk said...

spring.

December 19, 2009 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post. We had nearly eliminated meat from our diet when I found a family close by who raise grass fed beef. They don't produce much but I order 50 lbs at a time and fill up my little freezer. If I had not found them I would have had a rough time as I can't eat any soy products. Each of us has our own choices to make regarding diet and local foods. I have decided that my family is much happier when I drink coffee, even though there is no local source. We all do the best we can and compromise when we must. I give myself 30 days to make any really important decision. I'll bet that after 30 days have passed your choice will be clear.

December 19, 2009 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger René said...

I know PETA is probably going to kidnap me for saying this, but eating livestock gives it a reason for being. Just like heirloom fruits and veggies, there are breeds of livestock that are only being preserved through small farms. By creating a demand for what they produce, it gives a reason to propagate the species. Factory farms aren't just bad because the waste and the poor treatment of the animals. They're bad because they eliminate biodiversity. While you're voting for "humane" and "local" with your dollars, you should consider voting for some of the unique species that were losing because they're just not profitable enough for the big producers to keep them around.

December 19, 2009 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I have never been a vegetarian but know and admire people who are. I have hit that point in my life where I can no longer purchase meat from the grocery store; if I can't raise it, or my neighbors don't raise it, than I just don't need it. I eat a lot of venison, that is about as local as you can get I suppose. I commend you for saying no to CAFO's and admire your sensitivity to the lives of animals. If you decide to eat some meat again, you will certainly enjoy knowing they were raised with pride and care.

December 19, 2009 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Pilgrim Soul said...

Jenna, Michael Pollan tweeted your post!

PollanNews
"coldantlerfarm: losing my religion" http://tinyurl.com/ydlaxod #michaelpollan

December 19, 2009 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger Pilgrim Soul said...

I'm still trying to figure it all out. I've been a lazy vegetarian for the past few years -- eating veg when it was convenient, but giving in and having meat whenever I wanted. I'm trying to change that. To be more definite about what I want to do.

I've been reading a lot (Pollan, Kingsolver, watched Food, Inc.) and I'm trying to change. I've started to scout out local meat, but I'm running into some roadblocks. I can find some beef, but no chicken or pork. I need to widen my net, I think. I just can't tolerate supporting CAFO's anymore when I buy meat from the store.

December 19, 2009 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

I have been a vegetarian for more than half my life now (15 or 16 years) I totally support eating local, humanely raised meat. I might raise some myself some day, except I am starting to realize that I don't really have the taste for or interest in meat after all this time. I think in eating locally it probably makes the most sense to eat meat for protein. I am still considering my options, but I am happy that I can also get locally made tofu and tempeh here in maine which is made from maine grown soy beans. This is just another part of our local economy and food shed which seems to be getting stronger every day.

December 19, 2009 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

I have also been vegetarian for 16 years and also support eating local meat, if that is what moves someone. I personally would never feel right eating meat, but if I ever did, it would only be local. I've been trying to move toward local protein in the last year or two. I do not judge anyone who eats meat. It is a very personal choice, but a choice that should be made intelligently and compassionately. I agree with the posted argument and have for a long time. I say if it feels right for you to eat meat, then do it. At least you are no making the change mindlessly. I think you are doing it for a very valid reason. Good luck!

December 19, 2009 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

You are not losing your religion, you are enforcing it. Your religion has been the ethical treatment of the animals we raise and our food supply, not whether or not you ate meat or vegetables.

I agree completely with the "Vote with your $$$", but I also believe that if droves of people were to suddenly start to buy local meat, but agribusiness would also try and shut them down as they are trying to do with NAIS. So also get involved in what laws and regulations affect those small farms and local businesses.

December 19, 2009 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Jenna if you want to survive what is coming in 2010 you need to eat meat.

December 20, 2009 at 12:13 AM  
OpenID 6p00d8351fcb0969e2 said...

Thanks for this post, it is timely. I have been struggling recently with the whole idea of eating even well treated animals, and have debated going vegetarian simply for ethical reasons...However, truth be told, my body needs red meat once in awhile. I could never eat chicken again, but at least once a week I need red meat or I feel weak and spacey. I am going to check out that book in the hope that it sheds some light on how to keep meat in your diet without feeling like a hypocrite.

December 20, 2009 at 2:42 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Jenna,
I'm LOVING that all these people are so passionate about this topic. You really struck a cord by your dilemma. The length of these posts (and the fact that Michael Pollan twittered about you) are proof of that. Thanks to everyone for posting your views, agree or disagree, it makes great conversation! ~Vonnie, NH

December 20, 2009 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger nese said...

I totally support a local farmer by buying his free range organic chickens and eggs and grass fed organic beef & his pork. I also support local farmers in the summer by trying to buy as much produce locally as I can and "putting it up" for winter. Eating locally grown food is more important in the big picture I think than as you say, buying out of season fruit & vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles to my table.

December 20, 2009 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Well, I will be returning to meat. I just need to do it on my terms, starting with Chuck and then slowly adding my own broilers and local fodder. It'll happen slowly, maybe a meal or two a week. Right now it all starts with a crockpot and CK.

December 20, 2009 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger BlueGate said...

Interesting to run into so many like-minded and similar experienced folks : ) I was a vegetarian for nearly 10 years, but when we moved back to Iowa to farm and were surrounded by sustainably/responsibly raised meat animals I returned to my omnivore heritage. Support your system, whatever that may be for each of us.

December 20, 2009 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Linda's Kitchen said...

I have been thinking the same thing over the past year. I am not a vegetarian but I do not eat beef because of the Mad Cow scare. I have been thinking about visiting local farms and buying 1/2 a cow and adding that to our diets. My family does like beef but when I brought this up, my daughters screamed "No! You can't kill a cow because of us." Even though I explained that the cow was going to be killed whether we buy it or not, this did not change their minds.

I am thinking I may just buy some meat from a local farm, try it and see what they think. Then I will go ahead and buy more.

December 20, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Jennifer and Steve said...

Hi! This is a great discussion and one we feel we must respond to as well. Jennifer has been vegetarian for 9 years now and Steve for over 10. While we started out like most vegetarians eating lots of soy, we rarely do now. We appreciate Chandelle's post because eating mostly whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds with locally and appropriately sourced eggs, butter, & milk can provide an incredible array of food items that do not require the land abuse of many soy products. One side of this discussion that seems to be left out is land use and each of our environmental footprint. We remain vegetarian because it keeps our footprint on this earth smaller than if we ate meat. You can do some research on this topic and find all sorts of information so we are not going to list statistics, but suffice it to say it takes more land and more energy to grow grains to feed animals to feed humans than just to grow grains to feed humans. I think we both agree that eating occasional local-well sourced meat is an ok option, but with the average meat consumption rate in the United States is not sustainable. Our diets, our energy use, our economy - it's all inextricably tied together and therefore cannot be "just about us" anymore. If the animals you choose to eat are ones that were given a happy and comfortable life then it's likely that the natural resources that sustained them were used lightly (not over-grazed/polluted/etc.). If you eat animals in moderation, all the better.

December 20, 2009 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Violet said...

I haven't eaten meat since I was 10 years old, but I 100% agree with you, and encourage all my meat eating loved ones to purchase from our small farmers and meat CSAs. One thing you didn't touch on was that many, many of the process vegetarian meat substitutes (morningstar "farms" and Boca, etc) are owned by the same companies that own CAFO's anyway. So by buying their "Alternatives" you're still supporting the same system. We're blessed with a local tofu shop here, but I live by the idea that the less processed, the better.

December 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger luckybunny said...

Hi Jenna,

This post was a really interesting one to me. I was a vegetarian for 10 years before I started a small farm. I don't raise my own meat, but I will be raising a few chickens this year. I buy local meat from local farmers and feel so much better about it. I also agree my main problem with eating meat is where so much of it comes from. It's awful the way animals are raised and treated on factory farms. I love vegetarians, and I enjoyed being one, I never once missed meat. I was vegan for a long time time too - over half of my time as a veggie.... I think the only thing I missed there was cheese!

However I do enjoy eating meat now especially well raised, well cared for meat.

I think you make some very interesting points. I'm with you on this, and enjoy reading about your journeys and thoughts.

December 20, 2009 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Hi Jenna,

I love reading your posts and all the comments that folks leave, especially the random lurkers who get inspired to post.

I was a vegetarian for over 10 years. When I finally decided to eat meat again, it had more to do with health reasons (I never did well on a vegetarian diet being a small framed thin person who struggles to keep weight on.) rather than environmental/cruelty reasons. Though those things are important to me.

Living in the SF Bay Area, I'm so lucky to be able to source my meat from local farms. My family joined a meat CSA over a year ago and it has been absolutely wonderful to know exactly where our meat is coming from.

I grew up in Nebraska, the land of CAFOs and large scale farming. I was so critical of these practices, but never took into consideration the immense difficulties of earning a living at small scale farming (there's a reason that magazine is called "Hobby Farms"). So any opportunity I have to support a small farmer, I snatch it up.

Going back to eating meat IS a huge decision. I remember feeling really weird shoving pieces of bacon into my mouth. I can tell from your writing that you are an incredibly thoughtful, caring person who doesn't take these kinds of decisions lightly. And that's a GOOD thing. The examined life is the life worth living.

Good luck and happy meat eating if that's the path you choose. If you are ever in the Bay Area, please stop by for a great Afghan stew that I make with ground lamb or goat :)

December 20, 2009 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Summermelonfarm said...

I am not a vegetarian, but I love the way anything grown organic and free range tastes. It is delicious. I have tried organic/grass fed beef recently from a family friend who does BBQ competitions and it is the best beef I have ever had!
My hope is to buy a freezer and find a farmer around here that will supply us with our meat. If I could, I would buy a years worth at a time.

December 20, 2009 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

PS - I thought that you might want to be aware of this:

http://www.marketskeptics.com/2009/12/2010-food-crisis-for-dummies.html

It's somewhat frightening if it turns out to be true.

December 20, 2009 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

Your post is spot on. It's nice to see your incisors and forward facing eyes of a meat eating predator won out.

You are invited to my table for the best *guaranteed* dry rub ribs or venison!

December 20, 2009 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger Mancelona Woodswoman said...

We eat meat - a lot of meat. From our own farm. Beef, pork, lamb, and we raise chickens for eggs. Milk from goats.

CAFO's are a travisty.

Watch the movie Food, Inc. http://www.foodincmovie.com/ You'll never eat at a Mickey D's again. I know I won't.

We will raise our own meat until we are in the grave.

December 20, 2009 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

I agree with your views, lol, on just about everything i read! smile I became a vegetarian when i was 5, at that age it was due to the fact that my friends kept ending up on the table, as an only child i felt quite upset by this (this happened to be in ferrisburg on a dairy farm oh, 35 years-ish ago) As i grew i continued to not eat it due to views on factory farming, slaughterhouses etc. A few years ago i decided to eat happy meat as a buffer between my carnivore family members. My body rejected it, completely. After numerous testing it has been diagnosed that i am just not able to digest meat any longer, and the pain it caused has kept me a happy vegetarian! We eat green, organic, small farm produced whenever possible what we cannot produce ourselves. I applaud you for what you have accomplished and shared with others!

December 20, 2009 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger jhazen said...

It doesn't look like anyone has mentioned "The Vegetarian Myth" yet, by Lierre Keith. She was vegan for 20 years, and the book is about a lot of different aspects of our food production, not just vegetarianism.

The biggest point for me (so far -- I'm only about half way through) is that though meat-eating causes death of individual animals, agriculture (especially that of annual monocrops) kills whole *ecosystems*.

I've found it extremely educational and thought-provoking. If you're considering a return to meat, I think it could help you feel better about it, by giving you a new perspective.

December 21, 2009 at 4:40 AM  
Blogger Frances said...

Hey Jenna. I'm going to chime in with a slightly different tack here. Like so many other readers, I'm in very much the same boat. I was vegetarian for 15+ years, for reasons that evolved and changed over time. When Dan and I migrated to this part of the world, it made sense to support the humane growth and slaughtering of animals if/when we cared to eat meat. It's not often -- because I don't yet have the taste for it (except pork -- good god), and it's expensive -- but it's wonderful to be able to have that option.

Beware, though, misguided attempts by not-quite-as-informed friends and relatives to serve you CAFO meat because you're "not vegetarian anymore." If you thought explaining your eating habits was a little awkward before, just wait.

These days, I tend toward sticking to the "I'm a vegetarian" line for people I don't know or who don't agree with my views on factory farming (or who won't appreciate a conversation about it). It is much easier than turning down a meal made of something that breaks your heart to eat.

December 21, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

That's the exact same reason I stopped eating meat totally two years ago. I'd read the book "Skinny Bitch" and it was just what I needed to horrify me and kick me into action (buying organic and eating local) and inaction (eating no meat). I don't think I'll be able to eat for a while, as I've never been a meat eater just by personal preference, but I have looked at the case of fresh, local, grass-fed, free-range meats available our local food co-op and considered my options should I ever decide to reverse my decision. I've also talked with my carnivorous family about making small steps, like ordering a free-range, locally grown turkey for holiday meals and buying meat from local farmers. They still say I'm crazy, but I know I've caused them to think.

Thanks for bringing the point up, Jenna, and for sharing your views.

December 21, 2009 at 1:22 PM  
OpenID thatsthelife said...

I've been through this myself in the last few years. I went veg with the help of a nutritionist to try and manage my body's need for protein. My partner went veg on her own ten years ago and never looked back. For me, it was a two year challenge and I finally went back to "humanely farmed" meat - and my health improved instantly and dramatically.

Because of our experiences I don't believe that anyone has any business judging someone else based on their diet, veg or omni. As an animal lover I would much prefer to be veg, especially sharing my life with a veggie partner... but it's just not going to happen.

So the next logical step for me is to at least take responsibility for the animals I'm eating. There are sellers like Cumbrae in cities that made it easier to buy non-factory farmed meat, but I know from my veg friends that a humanely raised animal didn't necessarily meet a humane death if it was "processed" (gotta love that euphemism) in the same slaughter houses as factory farmed animals. Factory killing is no better than factory farming, and we forget the people who work in the plants are not treated humanely either.

So that leads this animal lover to the conclusion that I would much rather source my meat from places where I can *see* how they lived and how they die. Ultimately I want to be able to raise and kill my meat animals myself. It's funny how it comes full circle, like a lot of things in life.

Since moving to the west coast, my sweetie's been contemplating taking up seafood again, after 10+ years of vegetarianism. When you live in the city, your dietary choices merely affect what aisle of the grocery store you purchase from. But here we live in an isolated place where the grocery store items are trucked over mountains and you can literally pick supper up off of the ground. On top of that, she's started a free-weight program that requires her to up her intake of protein.

People's dietary choices revolve so much around their own circumstances and their palate. Everyone has different stop gaps, which is so beautifully demonstrated by the comments in this thread.

Some people are veg, some vegan, others eat only seafood, or abstain from beef, or eat only wild harvested. Personally I can't stomach the idea of veal or lamb, but I'll eat mutton and beef. Everyone's choices are different which illustrates that there is no simple answer, only what's best for each individual.


... I'd also like to toss my hat into the "preserving heritage breeds" ring. Did you know there's an endangered breed of meat pig that is wooly? They were bred in Europe to withstand the harsher climate, and the wool is spun into yarn and is as warm as sheep's wool. Just thought as a keeper of fiber animals you'd get a kick out of that:

http://woolypigs.com/

December 21, 2009 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hi Jenna- your argument is sound and I think you should proceed, just please don't start with beef. You need to give your stomach time to start secreting the enzymes needed to digest it, otherwise you'll wake up with the worst gut-ache you ever had. Starting with Chuck Klosterman is as good a place as any.

I just want to also say that it's interesting to see the responses to your posts, and which ones tend to generate a lot of traffic. It's heartening to see so many people weigh in on this subject, which affects all of us, carnivore or not, because it says something about the changes we want to see in our food system.

December 21, 2009 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

I recently heard someone describe herself as a "flexitarian who only eats humanely raised local meats." I had to smile because it seemed so reasonable to me.

On the topic of slaughtering & processing meat, I'd like to point out that when it comes to large animals, this can be problematic. For me, I wanted my animals to die swiftly and with as little fear as possible. That meant not being trucked to the local slaughterhouse, but I'm not a trained butcher so didn't think we could handle it ourselves. We accomplished it by hiring a mobile butcher. This is a butcher that brings a trailer full of equipment to the farm to slaughter and do the preliminary butchering of large animals in familiar surroundings under the scrutiny of the farmer. We were lucky and had a good one, but these butchers are not always easy to find and it's not a niche that many butchers like to work in, as the conditions are less than optimal (sometimes dangerous) from their perspective.

To those who think it difficult to raise and then slaughter an animal, we lived with our steers for about 18 months before they were slaughtered. Most of these animals had been born on our farm, some I actually midwifed. We named every one of them and knew "who we were eating" at dinner. Our perspective was that these animals have been bred for a purpose, to provide meat protein to humans and that we gave them a wonderful life on our farm. Our steers lived in their family herd on healthy pasture and were never separated from their mothers or weaned on an arbitrary (read: convenient-for-the-human) schedule. Our cattle were gentle, well cared for and died a swift humane death.

For the chickens, we did all of the slaughters ourselves, which amounted to about 325 per summer in order to meet the needs of my family of 5 adults and a few other families for a year. I thanked each bird for their sacrifice and sent them off with our gratitude and blessings.

I have, however, actually read comments (on other blogs) written by self-identified vegetarians & vegans stating outright that people who raise animals for meat in ANY manner are no better than murderers. That's a tough one to swallow when you put in the extra effort, time and money to ensure your animals never suffer and live as naturally and happily as possible. So, I've been very pleased to read the responses to your post, Jenna. It does my heart good to see that others believe the way we do things has value.

December 21, 2009 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Hi jenna, glad another reader warned about the complexity of explaining your meat eating habits to others. I stick with telling people I am veggie. I was veggie for 10 years and slowly have added local grass fed meats into my diet after meeting my meat and potatoes loving husband. It was our middle ground :) enjoy!

December 21, 2009 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Hi jenna, glad another reader warned about the complexity of explaining your meat eating habits to others. I stick with telling people I am veggie. I was veggie for 10 years and slowly have added local grass fed meats into my diet after meeting my meat and potatoes loving husband. It was our middle ground :) enjoy!

December 21, 2009 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Hi jenna, glad another reader warned about the complexity of explaining your meat eating habits to others. I stick with telling people I am veggie. I was veggie for 10 years and slowly have added local grass fed meats into my diet after meeting my meat and potatoes loving husband. It was our middle ground :) enjoy!

December 21, 2009 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Hi jenna, glad another reader warned about the complexity of explaining your meat eating habits to others. I stick with telling people I am veggie. I was veggie for 10 years and slowly have added local grass fed meats into my diet after meeting my meat and potatoes loving husband. It was our middle ground :) enjoy!

December 21, 2009 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Texan said...

Well I think all your thinking is solid :O)...

Myself a vegetarian for 24 plus years. If I was a vegetarian for the same reasons you gave then I would have to say I agree with your thinking :o)...

For me it was and is more a health choice which is a whole nother can of worms as they say.

I will say at this point I also agree that animals that are raised in horrible conditions for the sake of people eating them is just wrong as well.

However, I see nothing wrong with eating "happy meat" if that is what a person wants to do and feels its a good choice for them and their health. I do think eating organic meat is for sure the way to go if a person is going to eat it, but I feel organic is always a better choice if you can get it, no matter the food :O). Just healthier :O)...

So I would say if you want to eat meat you should, and eating local happy meat seems like a good plan.

To me its totally a personal choice what each person eats, its their body their decision. You should do what you feel is right for you :O)...

I would not eat meat just because you can get it local and feel you should, but if you truly WANT to eat meat again, then getting it local is great. So there is my two cents worth :O)

December 21, 2009 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger MT said...

Same thing happened to me a few years ago when I moved to a place where I could actually get healthy, humanely raised and processed meat. It makes a difference. It is more expensive, but if you eat meat in the amount it should be eaten, e.g., 4-6 oz. at a time instead of a 24 oz. pile of steak, it makes sense.

December 22, 2009 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Rexford Moose said...

I believe everyone needs to do what they believe is right. If you choose to eat meat, then you should do so in the most ecological and humane way possible. That being said, I have been a vegetarian for over 25 years and have no plans to change. This could be a very long discussion of all the reasons why but the main one would be moral consistancy. In my opinion if your not OK with eating your dog then you should not be okay with eating a cow. Eating meat is not necessary to my survival, therefore, why should I be okay depriving another animal it's life? Being vegetarian is a choice that is right for me, I do not tell others what to eat.

By saying that by chooseing not to eat meat by small producers I am somehow not working against agribusiness does bother me. Frankly, I am tired of always being asked to defend my food choices. I have been working against agribusiness and inhumanity the majority of my life and my chosen diet is a huge part of that.

I have found that humans have a impressive capacity to rationalize what they want to do. Is it now okay for you to end a life just because the animal was raised "humanely"?

Lisa

December 22, 2009 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Kristina said...

I haven't tried changing to an entirely vegetarian diet (my husband would definitely revolt if I did!), but I have changed the meat that I buy to local meat purchased at a farmer's market. The meat tastes better, and it helps support my local farmers. And, we've been eating less meat, which just feels good.

December 22, 2009 at 12:55 PM  
OpenID localnourishment said...

Fascinating article in the New York Times science section today about eating only plants for "ethical reasons." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/science/22angi.html

I was a vegan for most of my teen years for humanitarian reasons. I was one of those who developed nutritional deficiencies from veganism which lasted into my late 20s. It's been a long road back. But I'll never go back to eating CAFO meat.

December 22, 2009 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger IanH said...

I think you are right on the money. I also like your comments on the humane method of farming. We got into it for similar reasons. We know what is going into our produce (and what is not!) If you don't mind, I'll follow along for a while. Merry Christmas!
-=Ian=-

December 23, 2009 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Jenna,
I think this is a great topic and I am happy to comment as I have just been introduced to your doings and think it's spot on. Anyhow, I became a supply and demand vegetarian late in high school after realizing the problems in the meat industry and also after having really bonded with a free-range cow. This meant that I would not purchase meat, so I would not increase the demand for it, but I would eat it if there was extra. Later at UVM I lived in an all vegetarian collective, Slade Hall. This made it easy to become a full-fledged vegetarian for a couple years. I eventually crumbled again at the smell of bacon sizzling. Meat also became available for free at a food-bank where food was rescued that would otherwise be trashed by Trader Joe's. Additionally I felt I needed the additional fats and proteins after becoming a surfer. I fell back to being a full carnivore again. But recently I have thought more and read some things Tich Nhat Han has to say, so I am now a supply and demand vegetarian again...
I am still playing with the concept of purchasing local, free-range meats. I am probably increasing demand for meat by eating it if it's around anyway. From a sustainability perspective, I think eating meat is an important dimension to being self-reliant. From an ethical standpoint, if the animals are able to live good lives until their date with destiny, I think free-range meat is ok.
I think I will still try to limit any demand for meat but I may still may be very tempted by the words "free-range, local burger" on the menu.

December 23, 2009 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Naomi said...

Fascinating post - something close to my heart :) We are taking steps to change our diet to less meat, and local organic meat - with the goal of producing our own.

I've tossed up becoming vego due to my ethical concerns about animal farming, but also realised that I have the same concerns about plant farming. So really I ought to be going homegrown or local organic :) Another thing we are working on!

I wonder about those people who state that killing a sentient life form for food is immoral/unjust - how do we decide what is sentient? Do we even have what it takes to decide that correctly? I know that I see "life" in every animal AND plant - so if I'm prepared to eat plants, in my eyes that is no different to eating animals. Each should be treated with respect and thanks.

We are by nature designed to eat other living things. Whether you decide (or have to) to eat plants only, or animals as well, in both cases life is taken away to provide for another. One life is not worth more than another - all have their value, and their place.

December 28, 2009 at 6:47 AM  
Blogger denny said...

Yup, this is me too. Been a vegetarian since 1989 but now living on a homestead with a lake full of fish 200 feet away. I've been harvesting and eating fish for the past two years and this past summer we butchered three of our five roosters. I've also eaten a bowl of deer stew (deer harvested by my brother on site) and have had a bowl of chili with local pork. I thought I'd hunt a few squirrels and rabbits this winter but have thus far been unable to pull the trigger. For some reason I find it easier to do fish and the chicken harvesting was not too bad. But there is something about the soft fuzzy adorableness of rabbits and squirrels that I've not been able to get past. I'd rather invite them inside for a treat to eat rather than eat them. But I might buy just a little local pork and local beef as it is pretty easy to come by here.

I'm still getting used to the idea...

December 28, 2009 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I just bought your book (a Christmas gift from my husband to me!)and love it. My dad's family were farmers and truly lived off the land. As a result, I grew up with a garden every year. We had fresh vegies year round and what we couldn't eat we put up for the winter. We didn't have farm animals but my grandparents did. I remember my grandmother going outside to get the chicken for dinner. Literally! They lived from the land and planted, raised and hunted for their food.
I think your decision to eat local meat is very reasonable. I was just telling my 7 year old son today that if we take care of Mother Earth she will take care of us.
By the way, we have a tiny house on a quarter acre in Jacksonville, Fl and you have convinced me there is no reason I can't have a garden and a few chickens. I'm starting with the garden and doing more research on chickens and coops. Your book and way of life has inspired me. Thanks!
Cheryl A.

December 29, 2009 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Tamar said...

Jenna -- I'd go one step farther and suggest that vegetarianism and sustainable agriculture are incompat, ible. If you want to raise vegetables in a way that ensures the long-term viability of the land and environment, animals are the single best way to do that. The cows, pigs, and chickens are what make the greens, roots, and grains possible. They eat bugs, they graze grass, they poop poop -- and then you can grow something.

December 29, 2009 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger M said...

As a longtime vegetarian I do support, for those who choose to eat meat, the type of meat eating/industry you speak of in this post. However I strongly disagree with the idea that vegetarians are "sitting out" their vote.

By not supporting the factory farms of the meat industry vegetarians are in fact putting in their votes loud and clear. Every dollar we don't spend on meat is another dollar that industry misses.

Not only that but our dollars not only take away money that would otherwise go to the meat industry's factory farms operations but also take that same money away from the meat industry in general. For those of us who prefer eating no meat even to eating "ethically produced" meat, that is killing two birds with one stone (pardon the non animal rights friendly expression) and as another commenter said voting with our dollars.

Not to mention vegetarianism has been said to both help not add to global warming and to free up land used for grazing for growing far more food for human consumption than is possible when the same land is used for grazing. http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0120-20.htm

Like another of your commenters I too avoid soy products and fake meat (and I try to eat food that comes from small local farms). Eating fake meat makes little sense to me personally in part because I don't much care for meat and its taste and also because I try to avoid processed foods, which many (all?) fake meat products seem to be. I'm a vegetarian in part because I like and want to eat vegetables, not meat (or some approximation of the same).

However, I understand not everyone finds vegetarianism as easy or desirable as I do, and for those people I think the option you discuss in this post is a good compromise. But to suggest vegetarians are sitting out the controversy is absurd in my opinion.

What we put into our bodies and the process of getting food to plate is an essential one and these types of discussions are important, regardless of how much disagreement there may or may not be on the issue.

Keep up the good work and great topics. I enjoy reading about your life and learning the realities (which definitely don't always match up to the fantasy some of us urbanites may have) of your lifestyle.

January 2, 2010 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

As someone who grew up on a cattle ranch in northwestern SD, I eat meat and loathe our CAFO system of meat production in this country. My beef comes from my parents' ranch and is processed locally. I get lamb from my friend who raises sheep, and that's who I buy my chickens from each year. Those are processed REAL locally -- by me. I know what they've eaten, where they've been, and how they've lived, which is like animals are meant to live -- out in the open with good food, clean air & room to roam. They live normal, animal lives by people who understand what real animal husbandry is. I don't eat CAFO meat either.

January 10, 2010 at 11:48 PM  
OpenID thetinfoilhatsociety said...

You are so right, Jenna. And truly, we are designed to be omnivores. Our teeth show that.

I bought a freezer for two reasons: 1, to freeze some of our home grown produce that doesn't can or dry well, and 2, to have a place to store the pig I'm getting from my friends.

We eat much less meat than we used to because of the expense, but we eat only humanely raised meat. You can tell the difference in the taste!

I have to wonder about the stress related chemicals, not to mention the stored toxins, in CAFO meat; it has to be doing something negative to the people eating it.

January 13, 2010 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

I second the recommendation of Lierre Keith's The Vegetarian Myth.

You are definitely on the right track, Jenna. Congratulations on your continuing evolution!

May 14, 2010 at 7:08 PM  

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