Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Love ‘Em and Eat ‘Em..... You Can BBQ The “Sweetest Companion in the Whole World”

If you haven’t seen the magazine: Modern Farmer, you have missed out on seeing bright cheeked thirty-somethings…who care WHERE their food comes FROM, but, apparently, do not care about WHO their food IS.

Modern Farmer magazine has been around about a year.  Here is how the editor describes their target audience:  “You are thoughtful and conscientious about what you consume, you are looking for the story behind what you eat and drink, you are willing to pay more for organic food, humanely raised meat and locally made products.”

(I added the italics for every what that should have been a who.)

You know this demographic.  They want their locally brewed beer, locally raised meat, dairy and eggs, and they compost and garden.    We have such a large population of these folks here in Santa Fe, that a new enormous butcher shop and cafe has popped up next to our food co-op.  

You can probably find Issue 4/Spring 2014 of Modern Farmer at your local natural foods store.  The cover stories include: Is Milk Humane?  And, The Next Pig Thing.  There is a photo of a pig’s face on the cover. Please don’t buy the magazine.

The article The Next Pig Thing has 7 beautiful photos of adorable pigs taken in a studio.  The article is divided into 2 categories, just like the author’s heart and mind are divided:  PETS is the first category and FOOD is the second.  Here is an excerpt from that article:
“You can feel better about eating bacon from a pig who had the best possible life and death, and second, lovingly farmed pigs provide some of the sweetest companionship in the world.” 

I could not have made this up.  That is exactly what is written in the article.

One pig farmer was quoted as saying, “They can wreck 200 acres overnight, but they are gregarious, chatty, smart, a joy.”

And, the article goes on to say “Pigs raised for bacon are usually slaughtered at around 6 months old, if you can bear it.  If you are planning to raise pigs for bacon, be ready for the messy business of slaughter.  If you are wanting to sell your meat, or are feeling squeamish, find a USDA-certified slaughterhouse near you.”

The article on the dairy industry is mostly a promotion of “local, organic, sustainable and artisan dairy products.”    There is no mention, of course, of the fact that we do not need to consume milk as adults and we certainly should not be consuming the milk of another species.  There is recognition in the article that no matter how small and supposedly conscious the dairy farm is,  it is not economically feasible to meet the psychological needs of the cows.  From the article, “the economic reality is that if a calf was free to suckle on her mother for a few months, as nature intended, the cow could well be happier and the calf healthier, but most farmers would lose what little profit there was from their farms. “
One farmer in the article lets his cows stay with their calves for months.  The author of the article doubts that this is economically sustainable and writes the following: “ In between the extreme of Gibson’s animal-centered dairy and larger high-volume organics, Ronnybrook is a farm that has found a healthy compromise.” 
The owner of Ronnybrook farm says, “Cows are like dogs, if you are nice to them, they are nice to you.”

Not once in this 7-page article does anyone mention the fate of the male calves.  By choosing adorable pictures of pigs, cows, sheep and chickens, this magazine perpetuates the myth of the happy farm animal. The disconnect is obvious and the happy guilt-free consumers are all too willing to ignore the truth:  Any animal who is used as a commodity in animal agriculture has their most important needs ignored if those interfere with profit.  

We love to romanticize the relationship between a farmer and "their" animals.  We love to think that the meal we just ate supported nothing but blissful times on the farm.  The popular book Pigs and Papa is a photo journey into the life of Toshiteru Yamaji and the 1200 pigs he loves. Japanese pig farmer Toshiteru does apparently care deeply about the pigs...but that doesn't stop him from sending them off to slaughter at a young age.  I am glad he is not my papa.  

The photos of animals in Modern Farmer Magazine and in Toshiteru Yamaji's book
are some of the most intimate and beautiful I have ever seen.  This makes it all the more disturbing.  The bottom line is this:  Look in their eyes, love them, treat them as well as you can without cutting into your profits,  and then kill them in their prime. 

Two related articles on my Happy Cow Blog postings: