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Wednesday, September 17, 2008 

Soapbox Rant

I rarely use this blog for the purposes of spouting strong opinions about anything more than my love of barbecue, but for just a moment I want to climb up on my soapbox and rant.

CNN.com has posted an article that highlights the abuse of pigs at a commercial pig farm (http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/09/16/abused.pigs.ap/index.html). As I've read it, members of the extremist animal protection group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) sent "spies" into a hog farm after an internal whistle-blower alerted them to the abuses. They apparently documented a number of nasty practices and abusive habits of the people who run the facility and now the news has gotten hold of it and is waiving it around for all to see.

My rant isn't with PETA, although as a group I often dislike their approach and their attitude toward meat eaters. And it isn't even with the abusive and awful treatment the pigs suffered at the hands of their handlers (although I think that is disgusting and disdainful). No, my rant is with the naive and ignorant general public.

When articles like this appear in our media, the general public is suddenly shocked and appalled to believe that the animals they eat for food are mistreated. The producers of said meats rush around and say "this was just one case, one rare outlier who certainly isn't the norm!" And the public buys it.

That's not the reality, folks. What PETA shed light on is, in fact the norm. I've seen examples of it my own self. See, the problem is that in order for the general public to get their meats as cheap as they expect to get it, corners have to be cut. Factory farming is based on volume and output. Animals are not treated humanely because to do so would force them to have to slow down their process and do things differently - that would cut into their bottom line and it might, god forbid, force them to raise their prices. The abuses the general public are shocked by are the nature of the food production beasts that they feed each day with their money in the big grocery stores. Without a human, personal touch, and a level of respect for the animal, the critters that become our food will lead dismal and horrible lives.

The best way to get that human touch, is to buy locally. Get to know your farmer. Find out who they are and what they stand for. Small-scale farmers are better able to care for their animals and give them good (albeit short) lives. This is not to say all small meat producers are good to their animals, but it is to say that you as a consumer have the ability to do your own due diligence and find out for yourself whether the place you buy your meat from treats it with the respect it deserves.

I believe strongly in buying locally and getting to know who produces the food I eat. It is the cornerstone of how my family lives our lives. My wife produces food for us and others and she does it with as much caring and respect for the creatures we eat as she can. Likewise, the other farmers we get our food from do the same. I do not have issues with those of us who eat meat. I have issues with those of us who are unwilling to take the time to get to know their food, to learn where it comes from and how it is treated. As a whole consumers determine which companies live and which die by how and what they purchase.

So, take some responsibility for what you eat. Take the time to get to know your local farmer. Be willing to spend a little extra for the knowledge that you know where your food came from and how it lived. And above all, be thankful that an animal gave its life for you to eat.

Ok, I'm done. Back to our regularly scheduled blog.


regularly scheduled blog?

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