I am proud to announce the graduation of four pigs and two steers this week. Molly tells me that most people don't want to think about the fact that eventually the animals we share photos and stories about will be processed and become meat. This perspective, in my opinion, does a great disservice to the animal, as well as to the farmers who raises them. After all, this is the culminating event after months or even years of care, love, work, and a life well lived for the animals concerned (7 months for the pigs, and 2 years for the cattle). I’m quite proud of the fact that they’ve lived a happy, healthy life prior to this “graduation”. In addition, I am proud of the condition that the animals were finished in so that my customers can experience a happy, healthy meal.
There’s a lot of push in the media to denigrate the eating of meat. The primary arguments are that they (the animals) are bad for the environment (water, emissions, etc.) and that the taking of life is immoral. I’ll tackle these in order.
I believe livestock plays an integral role in maintaining our environment, converting highly fibrous plant matter into nutrients that are available to microbes in the soil. These microbes, through a wonderfully complex process, provide nourishment to plants, trees, and animals. They also carry rainwater that collects in the low areas, back up to the high areas to water those same species. I am infuriated by stories that claim raising cattle is environmentally damaging - that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. So what? This is water that falls from the sky and eventually ends up in the ocean. Beef cattle help redistribute that water, slowing down the cycle. Compared to traditional crop farming, raising livestock sustainably is less impactful on the environment (diesel, fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, water, etc.).
With respect to the killing of animals, death is part of life. In the wild, it's rare to find animals that live full healthy lives and die naturally; typically, they're eaten by predators. In every way, the animals we raise have lived a good life - they've always had a full belly, a warm shelter, lots of clean pastures to graze, and no predators to worry about. So why should these practices be considered immoral? In both cases, animals die and in both cases their lives contribute to the overall health of the environment. I contend that raising crops results in a lot more unnecessary and more environmentally impactful deaths than raising livestock. Growing crops by conventional means kills many living things such as insects, rodents, birds, and other microorganisms that are essential for ecosystem health. On our ranch, raising and harvesting livestock has a far smaller impact on the local ecosystem (both above and below the soil) than the practices used to produce most of the fruits, nuts, vegetables, and most certainly grains.
A sweeping generalization based on a single detail (such as how much water cattle consume) is illogical and disingenuous. We invite anyone concerned about the morality of taking a life to come out to the ranch and see how good life is here - for humans and animals In the grand scheme of things, livestock produce high quality calories, vitamins, and minerals from unproductive land and forage. When livestock are raised properly (as we strive to do), they provide a net benefit to the environment, and most importantly - taste great!
We're taking a trip to visit our new grandson, Owen, so we won't be attending the Elgin, Brushy Creek, or Taylor markets this week. We will resume our regular schedule next week.
Feel free to place an order for pick-up at the Pflugerville Winter Market in Pflugerville this coming Tuesday if you just can't wait a week to restock :)