Thursday, October 21, 2010
This Little Piggy and Factory Farming
This little piggy is named "Zinger". There is absolutely nothing special about Zinger other than the fact he has come to our place to live and hopefully grow up to father some baby pigs for us. We found Zinger on CraigsList. Let me re-phrase. My husband found Zinger on CraigsList. After bringing Miss Piggy back from the edge of the frying pan, neither Mike nor I really have the heart to butcher her this fall. Regardless of the fact that we have a pure bred Red Wattle that we could keep for breeding purposes, our hearts just won't let us butcher Miss Piggy. So, the perfect solution to that situation is to keep Miss Piggy as a breeder pig. That is where Zinger comes into the equation.
As you can see from the photos, the pigs have grown big and healthy. Our secret is the Jersey milk that they are fed almost daily. They are thriving on it. Their diet consists of produce scraps and Jersey milk and is supplemented with grain that we have grown ourselves. While we have not been able to pasture the pigs, due to a limited amount of land available for such endeavors, the pigs have had a large area in which to live, access to the outdoors where they root and play, and adequate shelters when the weather is threatening. The pigs have lived a good life and have been well cared for.
Now, in contrast, consider factory farming. This is a touchy subject right now and there is plenty of literature available on the subject. In case you are not familiar with the terminology, just do a google search of factory farming, check out YouTube videos, watch Food Inc., or check out some of your local farms...........both family and factory farms..........and get a first hand look and see for yourself what I am talking about. (I will also caution you that there are sensationalist out there. Look at both sides with an open mind and don't throw the "baby out with the bath water" or the "farmer out with the farm".)
I recently challenged myself to not eat any factory farmed meat for one month. I did not broadcast this at the time, because honestly, I was not sure if I would be able to hold up to my commitment. I am happy to say that a month has come and gone and I have been true to my challenge. Ok, I admit, I did slip once. We were on a trip away from home and eating at a breakfast theater where they served scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. I did eat the eggs, sausage and bacon because there was no other choice unless I didn't eat at all. But, for over a month, we dined out once a week, and went on a trip where we were eating out for every meal for five days, and the only thing I had that was factory farmed were those eggs, bacon and sausage. Between you and me, it wasn't even good! ;-)
Of course, all the beef we eat at home has been raised here on the farm and I am eagerly awaiting our own pork as well. We do raise chickens from time to time to put in the freezer, but we are not big eaters of chicken. (That's another story, but the short version is the reason I don't buy chicken from the store is that I spent some time working in a commercial chicken house and it turned my stomach and quenched my desire to ever eat birds from that environment!)
Each individual has to decide what is right for them and there is absolutely no judgment on my part towards those who do eat factory farmed meat. I wish that we could all eat meat from animals that have been raised humanely...........animals that have a face.........animals that are cared for by farmers who truly love and care about the animals they are raising. Honestly, I don't see that ever happening. And yes, we in a small way contribute to that "cycle" because we don't have enough customers to buy all of our pastured beef and raising beef is a big part of our income. We raise the calves up on their mommas, move them to new pasture frequently, feed them large quantities of hay in the winter, don't use routine antibiotics or growth hormones but when they leave our place, they go to the stock yards where they are shipped off many times to feed lots where they will spend the rest of their lives until they are sent off to slaughter. We would love to some day be able to reduce our herd size, and have just enough local folks willing to by beef from us that we wouldn't have to send any of them off to the stock yards.
How about you? Are you willing to make yourself a challenge for a week or two..........or maybe even a month.........to refrain from eating any factory farmed meat? Try it. You might like it. I know I do!
(I apologize for the poor photo quality. Photos were taken with my phone)