Growing up in Eden Prairie suburbia, the idea of where meat came from was something we were never forced to think about. When we became farmers, we had to contemplate the meaning of our work and decision to be an omnivore: A true dilemma.
If you haven't, I recommend reading The Omnivore's Dilemma ... gateway book for many farmers and conscientious consumers.
A significant majority of us require food from animals for our bodies to thrive.
For the most part, we are omnivores. I wrote this small piece showcasing just one example of why humans typically need animal-based foods.
If you've found a long-term vegetarian or vegan diet works well for you, awesome, that is one way to opt out of the industrialized food system.
For me, I needed a different way to opt out. I needed to ensure the animals creating my food lived a full, good life and a were treated with respect through the entire process.
Touring a small local farm was actually what tipped the scales for me. It... just wasn't what I had envisioned when I had bought from them at the farmer's market. I was disillusioned and wanted something better.
As consumers, Betsy and I spent a decade really thinking about our food system. We toured farms and just couldn't find any which met 100% of the ideals we wanted for our family.
We understood the importance of animal welfare before we started farming; but like most, we really didn't like to think about where meat came from.
Becoming farmers really opened our eyes in ways we never expected.
I have been reflecting on the last decade, distilling all of it down.
As a society, we seem more polarized than ever. However, as humans, I realized we all have the same fundamental desire:
A good life with a respectful end.
When someone is denied any aspect of that, we all have a visceral reaction to the injustice.
Watching the animals under our care, it is clear they have the same goal of a good, respectful life.
More importantly, WE as consumers are able to ensure that THEY have the opportunity to achieve this universal desire of a good life and respectful end.
As a society we must look at the realities of where our food comes from and embrace a system that celebrates and creates the opportunity for a good life.
Before I had my own farm, I was always uncomfortable asking about a farmer's practices.
However, now being on the other side, I personally really appreciate when someone makes the effort to ask all sorts of details about our farm and welfare standards.
Asking makes a difference.
What exactly are the welfare standards of that food on the shelf, menu or shipped in a nice easy to prepare box?
Be respectful when sharing your concerns with others, food is central to humanity and sometimes hard to talk about.
Watch these pigs live a normal, happy, long life. Together we bring joy into the world instead of damaging the environment and living outside of our ideals.
This should be normal.
I'd value your thoughts or comments on the topic.
What has your path to respectfully raised food been so far? How can we better advocate for ethical foods?