All Food Comes From Farms
We have a good friend who told me that one time when I was extolling the benefits of real farms to him one day. If you are anything like me sometimes I can get so wrapped up in what I think is doing the right thing, that I can lose a little bit of perspective. It is virtuous of us to dive head first into thing we feel are correct, moral and that have captured our passion. Pushing the farm forward often requires that I put on earphones and sunglasses to tune out the detractors. Just like anything that requires what Americans would deem hard work we get a steady voice in our ear that repeats: “this is too hard” “It won’t work” “you can’t win” and “nobody cares”. Call me what you will but I have found that pessimistic voice to be a little motivating. How proud are we to be able to put that voice back where it belongs not with a home run but with daily diligence and victory in the small things. The sunglasses and earphones that I find sometimes necessary can also have the unwanted side effect of drowning out other voices that I need to be listening to. Sometimes the negativism still is valid and can open our eyes and hearts to another point of view. The comment that “all food comes from farms” was made a little tongue in cheek as he was saying the farm to table concept could be claimed by anyone. We both had a good laugh.
Not all Farms make Food
All farms make things that they would claim are eatable and people buy them to serve to their families but are we really going to argue that cheese in a spray can and powered non dairy creamer are food? Let me be even a little bolder and claim that we should not be eating things that have poop on them as that is not food either. This very topic is the focus of the big processing plants as the speed of the slaughter line is directly related to “contamination” of beef and the dunk tank that poultry goes through is to rinse of the same contaminant. The reason that our mainstream average work a day guy doesn’t know about this is that he never ever in his whole life can or will see this in action. In your master planned community there is no packing house, slaughter facility , feed lot or even a farm yet in every refrigerator exists animal protein. Without Googling it, quickly name where your closest butcher shop is. Now how bout a harder one? Where was the last piece of chicken you ate “grown”? Can you even pick which state it was from? We could play this game for every and most of us would fail miserably, but why is that true? The truth is two fold: first you don’t really care to know those answers and secondly if you knew you wouldn’t eat it. Follow me here as I know I have taken you way down so far but I promise that we will come back up to the optimistic farm and farmer that you know. Hang in there with me.
There is Hope and it’s worth the work
Using the word alternative can imply weird or even cast judgment on the other side. I don’t want this to be the case and even though you won’t believe me when I admit this but: I am fully aware that our farm can’t feed the world by itself so until the curve catches up you can enjoy you cheese in a spray can with a smile. The hope I have is that we can break down that iron curtain of we don’t care about where our meat comes from and instead introduce a real alternative. The alternative however requires just a little effort and more importantly a desire to care. Truth is often something that intimidates us because we feel compelled to change given what we have just learned and that change can seem arduous. In this case though the change is not hard and it involves holding baby lambs, taking pictures of your kids with chickens and feeding your apple core to cute pigs. I wrote this blog because of late most of our pictures have been of the joys of lambing time. Newborn lambs make great subjects to connect people to farms especially through pictures. It can be really hard to resist saying “ahhhhh” to cute snow white lamb pictures. But we also get many many question of “don’t you grow attached” or “how could you eat them after caring for them” (paraphrased of course). This process for us is not without emotion as we aren’t robots and care for them deeply. We set our alarms for every 4 hour bottle feedings for new lambs, gather the waste hay to make pigs a nest when it gets cold and stretch old trampolines for the chickens to keep them out of the hot sun. There is really almost no limit we would go through to make sure that they have the best life possible.
How do we eat them? How do you not want to?
Allowing the pigs to express the very things that make them unique is right to do, but it requires empathy. How else do you learn to know what a pig prefers? Ensuring that ruminant have both the time required and access to pasture is because they are cared for with a mind focused on allowing sheep to live like sheep are suppose to. This is what Joel Salatin meant when he coined the phrase “the chickness of the chicken and the pigness of the pig” The Barry Farm’s animals do have a good life and for that you should be supporting our farm. The way to ensure that animals are not treated poorly is to support farms like ours. Farms that you can see, smell and touch. Farms that aren’t hiding from you the truth and packaging it in cellophane on a big box store shelf. Are there other kinds of animals to eat other than family farms? Actually you may be saying to yourself “I prefer bleached tasteless pork raised on concrete floor in propane heated buildings in Iowa” than “gourmet heritage breed red wattle pork raised on pasture right here in Houston”. Wait….no one says that, but we act the contrary. Every meal we vote to keep farms in business, maybe this time I have convinced you that the next vote could be cast for The Barry Farm.