Eating what you are

For a social media genius, you’d think Mark Zuckerberg would have better P.R. skills but unfortunately his latest message got lost in the sensationalist media world as being eccentric, weird, and maybe cruel.   Indeed, there was an uproar from vegetarians, city dwellers, soccer moms, and  suburbanites, none of whom have ever seen meat in any other form other than chopped and shrink wrapped.  It ran the gamut from cruelty to being grossed out by the very thought of actually seeing your meat become meat.  Here at LLARCS, of course, the reaction was different:

Sure, you killed it.  But did you butcher it afterwards?  If not, you can’t yet join the Killed My Own Meat Animal Club.  Sorry, Mark.

To be sure we don’t eat only the meat of animals that we ourselves killed (and butchered).  We simply don’t have the time.  But we do try to only eat animals that we know have been raised on good food and water.  To us it isn’t necessarily about the act of killing/butchering which is so important, but how the animal was raised– and I don’t mean whether or not the farmer petted it everyday. But on the flip side, if you don’t grow it, kill it and butcher it yourself, you end up paying a premium for that kind of meat because it costs that much to grow it, kill it, and butcher it. 

Recently the USDA came out with a new food icon designed to be more informative and accurate than the original food pyramid.  It’s a food plate.  Kudos to the USDA for recognizing that a sizable portion of what Americans should be eating is fruit and vegetables.  Yet, the USDA’s giant subsidies to corn and industrial meat complexes doesn’t match its own plate.  What gives?

Increasingly the US government is a schizophrenic organization constantly flipping sides between good and evil in the name of democracy.  People know what they should do.  They either end up not doing it because they can’t afford it, or because they already have theirs and want to make more money.  This dichotomy between the haves and have nots is what made communism look so appealing in the early part of the 20th century.  To combat the inevitable slide towards socialism, our government has become especially good at giving lip service to good things whilst working behind the scenes to unravel them for profit, power or maybe just for fun.

I still maintain that food should not be cheap.   Food keeps us all fundamentally alive and healthy, and it takes a great amount of energy, time, sweat and tears to produce.  I say this having spent half the weekend outside in the pouring rain trying to get our corn, cucumbers and cabbages planted.  I am not growing acres and acres of corn destined to become cattle feed or high fructose corn syrup, so my little organic and sustainable farm receives no subsidies at all from the government and routinely loses money even though we sell our chicken for $4.00 a pound.  But that cost is 2 to 3 times the amount you’d find a whole chicken for at the supermarket, and we all only make so much money.  Something has to give.  If you can feed your whole family for less than a 100 dollars a week and still have something left over to pay the electric bill, well, that’s what you’re apt to focus on.  To create a truly sustainable, local food system, the local food has to be affordable.  To make it affordable, the government will have to step in.  Enter socialism. 

So Mark Zuckerberg, congratulations on killing what you eat.  We should all be so lucky to sow what we reap, eat what we grow, and be what we eat.  But until we finally see food — real, sustainable, nutritious food — for its true intrinsic value and as essential to us as the very air we breath, until it is recognized by our very government that GMO, Round-Up Ready, heavily fertilized corn doesn’t count as a “vegetable” on its own food plate, most of us will either stick with the stuff we buy on Styrofoam in Price Chopper or be forced to spend half our salaries or most of our days on the real thing.  Maybe, instead of killing your own meat, you should start using your sizable income to help others purchase meat that has been killed by a human being.   Then again, we all have to start somewhere.  Hopefully, the majority will come around soon.


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