The news outlets are buzzing today with various musings on Yale student Timothy Pachirat’s report from his time inside an industrial slaughterhouse in Kansas and his subsequent book, “Every Twelve Seconds.” I should say that I have not read the book, only interviews with the author, though it sounds appropriately fascinating, rousing, and nauseating enough to stir up the general public and probably make it to the New York Times best seller list.
The halo of shock and revulsion that gets reverberated around these stories is certainly valid, since change must start with an awareness of the problem, but as soon as the next unfaithful politician comes to light, we move on before the real message sinks in- these are actually stories of consumer responsibility and abdicated choice.
When we hear unsavory accounts of how animals are treated in such facilities, the environmental results of these systems, the potential dangers lurking in the foods it creates, we can only blame the corporations and factories so much. These people work for us, they are efficiently and cost effectively producing the bottom-price meats we are demanding.
In exchange for this goal, we have allowed all else to be pushed to the side, most importantly our abilities as consumers to make informed choices about the foods we eat. This is plainly obvious as one stands at the meat display in any grocery store. Try to ask the apron-ed employee behind the counter where that package of beef came from or what conditions the animal lived in, what it ate, and you are bound to receive a jumble of misinformation at best. That worker is just ill equipped to answer your questions because he is too far removed from the source.
If you want safe, nutritionally dense foods whose production conditions match the rosy farmscapes on their labels, you must find new people to ask these questions, people like me, like Cody and Andrea of Falling Sky Farm, like Tracy Youngblood of Youngblood Grassfed Farm, or the Lattures of Freckle Face Farm. We can answer your questions because we did the farming, we face you everyday at the markets and take responsibility for our products.
When you work with local farmers, you regain your full powers as a consumer.
Pigs are different than cows or chickens; their social structure is different, the herd moves differently, they search for and enjoy eating different things, and thus we do our best to work with them. We work very hard to gather appropriate foods for them (including hundreds of gallons of whey every week), we allow them normal social relationships, we spend time introducing them to loading chutes and trailers, we work closely with our butcher on the lowest stress handling and dispatching techniques. The same goes for the other animals we raise.
While we do our best to keep our prices as low as possible, our ultimate goals are to raise animals in the most natural conditions possible, to produce the highest quality meat and eggs possible, and to help consumers own their food choices. Ultimately, the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to your foods too. Feel free to gawk at the modern times “Jungle” accounts such as “Every Twelve Seconds” but do something with the resulting outrage- come see me at Argenta market on Saturday.
Farm Girl Natural Foods