There are not many more intimate acts than eating. We've all heard the expression "you are what you eat" but these days most folks put more thought into their next smart phone than they do into what goes into their body. We like to take this expression one step further and remind folks that you are what what you eat eats. That being the case, do you really want to leave something as important as your food up to a big corporation who's first responsibility is to it's shareholders? The people who feed you should be some of the most important relationships in your life. You know your doctor, your lawyer and your accountant and we want you to know your farmers too.
Ludo & I didn't come from farming families. In fact, our families are pretty confused about how this happened but it's obvious to everyone around that this is in our blood. It certainly isn't for everyone but we love what we do and we are honoured by and feel a tremendous responsibility to the people who put their trust in us to produce the meat they eat.
Of course, it all starts with the animals. Good animal husbandry is essential not only to ensure that our animals are happy and healthy but without it, you just don't get very good quality meat. The two go hand in hand. Being a meat producer comes with a lot of responsibility. It isn't something you can do well unless you are 100% committed to seeing the whole process through.
Some people talk about animals having a good life and one bad day but I don't buy that. To me, good animal husbandry means giving my animals a good life right up to the end. Most of the time, that looks like belly rubs and back scratches out in the field. But it also means that I spend time on the kill floor at the slaughterhouse making sure our animals are being handled in a way that keeps that promise. Sometimes it means having to make a fast decision and take swift action to end an injured or sick animal's suffering. Sometimes it means a long cold night in the barn helping a sow to bring piglets into the world. But that's the deal. That's the deal I make with my animals and that's the deal I make with you.
I've heard a lot of people say that you shouldn't eat meat unless you are willing to raise it and kill it yourself. I don't buy that either. But if you are going to eat meat, I believe that you do have a responsibility to know who is raising it and to ensure that they are doing so in a manner that is consistent with your values. You don't necessarily have to be able to do it yourself, but you owe it to the animals AND to yourself to make sure that it's being done right.
This is inconvenient. Most grocery stores and restaurants are not sourcing their meat from places that are doing it right. You would have a hard time swallowing the meat you can buy there if you saw how it was really raised.
Knowing your farmer is so much more than a catchy bumper sticker. So please, reach out and get to know the people who are raising your meat. Don't trust animal welfare and your family's health to a slick marketing campaign. Any producer worth their salt will be happy to show you around their operation and answer your questions. I for one, would be really happy to "meat" you :)
chief belly rubber at Blue Sky Ranch
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