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Eat Wild

I think just about everyone knows that factory farms are atrocious places. That mass-produced meat is everywhere, though, and it is really easy to just grab a package of chicken or beef at the grocery store, a burger at a restaurant and not think about where it comes from. The 'organic' meat on the shelf is often twice as much and usually doesn't taste any better - most if it being for the most part (very unfortunately) a scam (misleading names/descriptions/etc.). So... you love animals, but you enjoy eating meat. It's easy to just kind of push out of your mind where the meat comes from because life is busy and money can be tight.

I would like to offer an alternative - take a peek at http://eatwild.com/ :) It is a great listing of 'beyond organic' type of farms - places where animals are raised in a more sustainable, environment friendly fashion. Chickens are actually out roaming, eating insects. Cows eat grass and not corn and sludge. Often times the meat is the same price (or close to it!) as that of the grocery store and requires very little extra effort to acquire (most of the farmers may not live too close to you but many deliver into various cities all month so you can meet up and pick up products). I promise the food tastes much better, and you make a stand to support local businesses and people farming the 'right' way - instead of giant animal factories.

I also highly recommend the book 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' - it's a great look into the overall structure of the current American food ag industry. http://www.amazon.com/Omnivores-Dilemma-Natural-History-Meals/dp/0143038583/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283185737&sr=8-1
It's got a lot of eye-opening information in it if you haven't read about factory farms, organic, and 'big organic' before. I found it to be not preachy or in your face, but a more objective look at the way things are here, how they got here, and what your choices are for supporting one industry or another.

I visited factory farms when I was younger - they really are as bad as described and more. It turned me vegetarian (and vegan for a shorter span) for years. I admit I do like eating meat, and though I try to eat less of it now (and many more veggies!) I enjoy it and take responsibility for that. I hope to someday raise my own meat animals in the best possible conditions - but until then I've moved over to buying my meat from sustainable family farms. I'm getting a heritage, free-range turkey for Thanksgiving this year. :) If ethics don't sway you, try it for the taste... these birds are so incredibly full of flavor you'll never want to touch a Butterball again. :)


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
I LOVE meat.

I stopped eating it because of ethical and environmental reasons. I'm not against eating animals, it's normal and natural. I'm against them being raised on bad food and antibiotics, tortured and killed inhumanely (not to mention in SUCH unsanitary conditions!).

Thanks for the link. I doubt I'll start eating meat again, but it's interesting to know about options and also to pass on to friends.

Aug. 30th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
I agree - I am not against eating meat, humans are omnivores and have evolved that way for quite a long time before modern society. It becomes really blurry in today's time because we don't *have* to eat meat to survive - it is a choice and a luxury.
I would highly recommend visiting one of your local farms - it might not change your mind about eating meat (I salute your choice!) but it is just great to see that there are places working to make sustainable farms with well cared for animals - and taking full responsibility (in the open) for killing/processing them.
I think everyone who eats meat should have to kill and process an animal at some point in their lives. It makes meat more personal and makes it very clear what choice you are making (as opposed to buying a sterilized looking package of parts at a store). It is and should be hard to do. I think if more people did this they would take meat eating less casually - not just being vegetarian but eating *less* meat than the average american can make a big difference too! If you eat less of it, it doesn't matter if it costs a bit more - it's worth it all around.
Aug. 30th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
I agree with you 100%.

I spent a summer in Alberta, in the heart of cow country, and that's what really killed meat for me.

I have friends with small farms that produce cruelty free eggs, and there are meat farms around them (good, small ones, with happy cows). But in total, Quebec is notorious for it's bad treatment of animals.

Too much of our resources go into feeding, killing, and producing meat that could easily be used to make grain and food direct to people's mouths. Small farms are an option, and a good one at that! But really, the major deal is to reduce our meat consumption overall. Whatever our past diets were, we are overpopulated now, and it's integral that we eat the most efficient sources of food primarily. So, I don't eat any meat to make up for one other person who insists on eating it every day. Sort of.

I wish more people thought like you, though, and were willign to do the extra homework and effort.
Aug. 30th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for this informative and valuable journal/public service message.

It would be interesting to transition to this kind of sourcing for meat, though it raises questions regarding land availability and how much would be needed to feed the maw of our swelling population. The best thing for the planet would be to give up meat altogether and efficiently use land to grow crops not for animals, but directly for us.

I applaud anyone that is vegan/vegetarian as well as the omnivores among us that source meat from more ethically and environmentally friendly groups/organizations.
Aug. 30th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
P.S.: Kudos for the icon choice.
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
From my understanding, small sustainable farms are the only way to continue. It uses more land, but we don't even close to eat all the meat that is produced. Thousands of pounds of meat is dumped regularly. If it were produced on a smaller, sustainable scale there would be less waste, less environmental damage, etc. I mean... a single cow makes a lot of meals. Maybe we could transition to a system where we support the farmers for a specific number of animals. We plan ahead how much meat we want and utilize freezers to keep us through times it's not avilible. I know some farms here do so. You can order a whole animal, half an animal, or a quater. The farmers know ahead of time how many animals there is a demand for and only get enough stock for that and a couple extras to make up should there be any losses. It's a much better, less wasteful system from what I have seen
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
It is possible to do sustainable farming on a larger scale if people are willing to eat less meat. I don't know that it would work worldwide with the insane population that is out there but it would certainly work in the U.S.
Where my husband lived in Europe people ate a lot less meat. More people, less farms, meat much more expensive. In villages there is still a celebration when a pig is slaughtered - the local pub will have ribs, ham, sausages, etc. etc. - it is really cool to see. :) Much less waste and pollution going on by necessity!
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
Yes - if people would just stop eating so *much* meat it would make a huge difference. I admit I tend to be a little meat-centric about meals and I'm trying to be less and less so. Growing up in 'meat and potatoes' country I'm used to meat being a meal - it's crazy the way it's used around here. I try to limit it to one meal a day and to stretch it as much as possible (soups/stock, stir-fry, sauces, etc.)
I agree that it would be better to just grow crops and cut out the feeding it to animals part - but I think that sustainable farming is possible if people would be willing to eat seasonally and eat less meat. Land can be naturally cycled with plants - herbivores- birds etc. and actually improve the land. It just takes a different way of thinking/farming.
The current situation is just... deplorable. It makes me so mad/sad to see this 'fake' big organic duping people who are good meaning into paying more for more factory farm animal meat. :
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Ugh yes. I have been farming organically for some time now. I'm planning next year to branch into growing grains along with eggs and fruits and veggies. It's so maddening to see "organic" or "free run eggs" that are still mass factory farms not happy chickens on grass and bugs, or companies pushing for GMO food to be sold as "organic"
Aug. 30th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
I enjoy eating meat but if I had to kill the animals myself I couldn't do it. I do buy my meat at our local farmer's market which is in the middle of Mennonite country. So the eggs and meat come from much better conditions than grocery store meat. And man does it taste better and is all chemical free and free range. I also buy my produce from local growers which is pretty easy to do when you live in a good growing area. Not so easy when you don't. I think people should do what they can and not make themselves nuts. We don't grow citrus fruits in Ontario but I still love my oranges.
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
I agree, I think there has to be some balance and people shouldn't go miltant/nuts. Have you read the Omnivore's Dilemma? I think you would really enjoy it if you haven't - it touches on a lot of these options especially about eating foods outside of your growing area. There is a lot to think about with seasonality, the way food is moved around, etc.
For instance, I drove through Georgia the other day and I grabbed some local peaches. They were so insanely good I couldn't believe it (I've had Georgia fresh peaches before but it's been many years) - and I wondered why the peaches I buy (any time of year) from our grocery store taste like cardboard. It seems they buy them from south america ALL year long... even when they are in season and delicious from the U.S. That is messed up... not only are we then supporting ruining wonderful south american lands for big american consumer farms, but not supporting american farms and wasting tons of resources (fuel for planes, etc) moving peaches here. It's just dumb at some point. If I (and all the other consumers here) were willing to admit that peaches are a seasonal t hing and learn to enjoy them when they are in season... we could have delicious Georgia peaches as a treat when they are growing. All different things come into season at different times so there is always something interesting! Of course most in the spring/summer/fall. Nothing wrong with some preserved/canned goods in the winter!
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
Our local peaches are in season and are wonderful! I never buy the ones in the grocery store as they tend to be mealy and shipped from Chile on top fo that. Mind you, my gorocery store has a section for local in season fruit and veggies, | I'm amazed at how far some things travel. the local store stocks sweet peppers that are shipped from Holland for heaven's sake! And we grown them locally!I buy in season not only becuase it's good for the planet but because they taste better and cost less.
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
That is great that your store carries local goods! Our main ones don't and it's just insane... We're like prime corn country and often our corn comes in from out of state. That is just madness. It frustrates me that they don't use local farmers - I guess as big corporations its just easier to mass buy from a few places and not make any extra effort - blegh.
Aug. 30th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
I buy the bulk of my meat from a local farmer's market where there's a free-range ranch that brings their yak, elk, buffalo and poultry meat in on a weekly basis. I have toured the ranch, and they do allow visitors to help on slaughter day, so that's my next plan. I figure it's the least I can do to be an honest omnivore since I can't have a yard and raise rabbits yet.
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
That is great. :) I know so many people who don't even know that these options exist and are reasonable/convenient and don't have to mean going out of your way to change your habits - I just hope to spread that info a bit. If lots of people who are open to the idea aren't hearing it, that doesn't give me a lot of hope for the general populace!
Aug. 30th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
I have an 'eatwild' chicken in my freezer right now! I'm so happy to live near one of these farms. These folks are just down the road from me. http://sojournerfarm.com/

ALSO: I agree with you in this post SO HARD that I wish I could come out of your computer screen and hug you right now. I could go on and on about this, and why most of my meat is hunted.
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I hope to eventually on a small scale be one of those places. :) It's awesome that you hunt, that's a step very few people take.
Aug. 30th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
Yeh its a very tough situation. I am a big meat eater. I wish I ate less meat but chicken is so tasty. I do however have the lucky ability to hunt and I get to hunt dove next week, and I have some harvested alligator in my fridge. So even if you're not very rich (ie poor college kid like me) you can still get great meats from mother nature :3
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
Depending on where you live, keeping a small backyard flock may be an option. Some butchers will even axe them for you if you are not comfortable doing so.

Having doves I have to ask... how much meat do you actually get off them? I always wondered because it seems like even a rat would have more meat then doves.
Aug. 30th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
I've been vegetarian for years, and other then certain fish never enjoyed the taste of meat to start with. My main reason in becoming vegetarian however was ethical and environment reasons. Thanks so much for the link! While I won't use it much I have friends who are looking for more ethical, sustainable meat.
Aug. 30th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
Great post!

Where I live there is a wonderful Farmer's Market every Wednesday and its my grocery shopping day! There is fresh veg and fruits and its all local farmers. I can even buy my wool for needle felting from a woman who owns her own flock, sheers and hand dyes it herself. There are a couple of people selling their own meats there as well, though I haven't taken advantage of that yet, and there is a Buffalo farm near by that you can buy meat from and see their Buffalo's grazing on their fields - haven't taken advantage of that either, but I hope to some day soon. I think the local small butcher in town may get their meats from farms around the area - I plan to ask next time I'm in.

I'm not a big meat eater and neither is my fiance. We both do like the taste, but its also very expensive and we eat it sparingly. One box of boneless, skinless chicken breasts lasts us a good couple of months! Instead we utilize the local veg and fruits and honey from the Farmer's Market, and I even buy my bread there made fresh from the farmers. I mean at 50 cents for a zucchini bigger than my forearm how can you miss? Its also great for your immune system to eat foods that are grown in your area.

One ridiculous story I have is from where I grew up. Every first week of June they'd have "The Strawberry Festival" where the idea was that it celebrated the fact that strawberries were grown in the local area.... except that they weren't ready to harvest yet and imported all the strawberries for the festival from Mexico or California EVERY YEAR. What sense does that make?

There are so many different things you can do with fruit, veg, rice and other grains and that's what we eat the most along with tofu and TVP. We get other groceries from a small Asian Food Grocery - shoebox of a store, but great fresh daicon amongst other foods and lovely older couple to boot.

Plus thanks to allergies I have to be very aware of what goes into my body, so I've taken up things like making things from scratch and its a thousand times better than anything you get out of a box. Its sad to see skills like that passed over from something that comes out of a tube or can. Doing it yourself can really bring people together, as can educating people on where their food comes from and what goes into it.

Thanks again for this post!
Aug. 31st, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link, it's something I'm trying to get my family into for holiday and regular meat.
Aug. 31st, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
I currently work at a health food store. I think the very, very, very small selection of meat that we have is all grass fed and not industrialized stuff... though, can't afford any of it as things at my store cost twice as much as they should.
Aug. 31st, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
Another place you might find stuff is at local farmer's market. Some of the stuff is local, and better prices than store bought stuff. :)

Think I'll have to get a copy of that book when I can.

...Random thought, I wish there was a farm, or farms, where you could go and learn to be a sustainable farmer. I would love to learn how... for when (I hope) someday I have enough land to raise my own animals. It would be nice to be in a sort of apprentice style learning environment, rather then a school setting. Yay for hands on learning!
Sep. 2nd, 2010 12:07 pm (UTC)
I rank 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' along the best three or four books I have red, it's a good example of how journalism should be done. I'm even planning a painting which was inspired by it. :-) It's scary to learn how many people depend on highly manifactured food which could not be produced on a smaller scale should any ring in the supply chain break but it's a relief that now the system is being criticized seriously.

Living in Italy a lot of what it describes in the first part feels a bit alien, as here small farming is a big part of the culture, so farmer markets are held regularly even in large cities and it's fairly easy/unexpensive to buy meat raised in proper farms. Fast foods haven't really replaced fresh sandwiches either. I'm so used to eating these kind of things since I was bron that if I only had access to industrial food I'd probably end up starving. :-P
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )