There is a huge disconnect between the living breathing animals on farms across the country and the items we eat in America. Commercially raised animals are often kept in horrifying conditions simply to make them grow as big as possible and quickly as possible. The side effects of this are gut wrenching.
Yet, most people don’t seem to want to know where those chicken nuggets or steaks came from. They’re quite content believing that the meat from the supermarket lived on the farm where Charlotte spun her web. This bothers me. Cows packed into feedlots stand knee deep in their own waste, which then runs across the soil into our rivers. Chickens never see natural light and grow so big that their legs break when they try to walk. And every time we buy meat based solely on price, we encourage this.
It has been said that the most rebellious thing a person can do is grow their own food. Our food system is so tied up in money and politics that it can be difficult to break free from it. But by raising your own food, whether a garden or livestock, you are able to control what you put into your body, and how it lived.
There is a cost to this, though. I don’t just mean money. On Labor Day, I slaughtered my first chicken. More than that, it was the first time I’ve ever intentionally killed an animal (not counting bugs and the like) except fish. It was really hard to do, and I felt a bit shaky afterwards. I’m told that gets better over time. But even though I had to actually take that life, I feel comforted knowing that this chicken lived a full and comfortable life. It had sunshine and rain, and a big yard to scratch and peck, chasing bugs and plucking huckleberries.
My girlfriend has done this before and helped me, also handling most of the dressing of the bird. One thing that struck her was that we did not find a single parasite. No fleas, no mites, nothing. This was a healthy and happy bird.
So by raising our own food we have not only begun the process of eliminating herbicides and unneeded antibiotics from our bodies, we have stopped funding the factory farm system that is so cruel to animals. The initial investment is tough, but in the long run we save a lot of money and become healthier. Then there’s the undeniable fact that it tastes better this way!