Top | Weasel Food
(post, Jake Benner)
Until we joined this meat CSA, I had been avoiding pork for about 4 years because of the brutality of slaughter operations. I know that this is an issue for more than pigs, but I saw one too many documentaries several years ago, and I can't get the image of live, conscious, screaming pigs hanging by one hind leg from an overhead conveyor belt. We can buy our meat with confidence in the grocery store if we are concerned with quality of life issues for the animals: free range, natural feed, antibiotic use, etc. But if we're also concerned about the unnecessary, prolonged suffering inflicted on livestock at the slaughterhouse (and on the trip from farm to processing plant), then we've got a problem... because I've never seen a "humanely slaughtered" label. So when "weasel" returned from a trip to our local farmer's market with news of the meat CSA, I was skeptical... He handed me a brochure, and the answers I needed weren't there. So I went to the farmer's market alone the next week to find out for myself. It was obvious from the brochure that these farmers did all they could to ensure that their animals lived well, but how were they dying? I found the farmers' daughter (on summer break from college and a farmer in her own right) staffing the tent. I wasn't sure I wanted to ask her about how the animals were slaughtered, but I took a deep breath and said something like: "When I was a kid, most of my family were farmers, and I spent much of my childhood getting to know the animals that we were eating. I often knew the 'name' of my hamburger. My family was committed to making sure that the animals were slaughtered humanely. I know that in most slaughter operations animals are surrounded by the sounds of suffering as soon as they arrive, and so they are terrified and frantic before they even begin the physical suffering. How are your animals slaughtered?" By this point, I was almost in tears... ridiculous, I know... And when I looked up, the young woman standing in front of me had tears in her eyes too. She told me that she was a vegan for three years because of her own concerns about the needless suffering inflicted on so many animals at the end of their lives. But she wasn't a vegan anymore. She said she'd toured the facility where her family takes their animals for slaughter. Each animal has its own appointment time at the slaughterhouse - I don't remember the details of how that works... What I DO remember is that the animals die peacefully and quickly. I was convinced: a teen whose family livelihood depends totally on raising animals for food had been so concerned about the treatment of animals at the end of life that she stopped eating all animal products... and seeing the way that their animals were slaughtered eased her mind, and even allowed her to feel good about it. So I announced to my very excited spouse and friend/neighbor that we should join (and that I would eat the pork). We got on the waiting list, and 6 months later, we got in... and there's no going back!