We used to raise sheep for meat. We also ate our chickens eggs and then, when they were done laying, we ate the chicken as well. We raised goats for milk and often sold the kids for meat, I wasn’t as excited about eating a baby goat as they were always a lot smarter than any of the other animals and it was easy to get friendly with them.
When I tell people that I raised animals for meat they often respond with compassion, as if this must have been an especially hard thing to go through as a kid. The truth of the matter is that I felt pretty lucky to be raised on fresh and delicious meat. Many friends of mine don’t appreciate the taste of lamb as they have only ever had tougher cuts or poorly raised animals. Farm fresh eggs and meat make for a much better experience-taste wise. Animals that have been treated well, raised on acreage where they can move and eat at their leisure, and have actually been paid attention to taste like actual animals.
The western worlds food ideas is changing and more local, fresh, well raised food is being encouraged and the trend is encouraging. It is interesting that even among many who want grass fed, cage free, organic meat- there is still a large amount of people who don’t want to remember or realize that they are eating a cow or a chicken or a turkey- that beef comes from an actual animal with a face and that boneless, skinless breasts were once part of a whole animal.
I don’t want to become a vegetarian because I enjoy meat too much, I appreciate the flavors, the texture, the fat, and protein too much. But being raised the way I was and being educated about farms and farmers, animals and their beginnings- has given me a unique way of seeing what I eat. I don’t want to eat mistreated animals because I know they won’t taste as delicious as the carefully treated ones. I also know some of the hoops farmers have to jump through for certain certifications and don’t want them to go out of business because a changing population wants to see the encouraging stamp on their package than have to think about the industry behind it.
Being a demanding consumer means more about knowing your farmer, knowing your source, than it does about the labels and the marketing they are able to do.
Not everyone can know their farmer, but a visit to a farmers market can go a long way, ask questions- they know their stuff. Teach your children about chickens, not just as a main dish but as an animal that is butchered by trained professionals to get to your supermarket wrapped in cellophane.