My brother, Thomas, is a farmer. He, along with Bailey, have a farm in midstate New York. There are chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats, peacocks, and pigs. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone in that group. There are also gardens of the flower and vegetable persuasion. Really, it’s a sustainable farm. They refer to it as a small, pasture-based farm.
We recently had a lengthy conversation about food. Paleo, clean eating, local farming, co-ops, farmer’s markets, cooking, baking. Just food. It was a pretty fantastic conversation. I was impressed and a little jealous as I listened to him speak. With their farm, they gather what they need as they need it. They sell some of it; give some away. Thomas said that they haven’t gone out to eat for months. Home-cooked meals every night with THEIR ingredients.
I asked Thomas about his feelings on getting to know the animals, naming them, butchering, then finally eating. He said that they have an understanding. During the animal’s life, they take care of the animals. The animals are fed, they are watered, they are loved. Once it’s time for their life to come to an end, it’s their turn to do their part. To provide meat, to take care of the farmers. That’s a pretty legit way of thinking. Respect for that.
The thing that he said that was the most impressionable was “We know our animals. We know how they ate. We know how they lived; we know how they died.” My brother knows every single thing that their pigs have eaten during their lifetime. He made the comment that each and every single one of their animals ran around the farm, played, enjoyed the sunshine. Each one of the animals died humanely and respectfully. I think that’s pretty awesome. To be a part of something like that….amazing.
I know I’m guilty. I have no idea what kind of life that the cow had that provided me with its beef. I don’t know where my pork chop lived. Paleo says free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, organic everything. Really, that is the best way to eat. I will be honest, it’s expensive, and I don’t follow that very often. I do the best that I can. I think after talking to Thomas, I will make more of an effort to really know where my food came from.
Having your own farm is a pretty big commitment. If you’re not able to partake in that, I strongly encourage supporting the local guys. Scope out farmer’s markets. Ask around about local co-ops. Buy the local produce. Buy the local honey. Local bacon. Talk to the farmers. Ask them questions. Know your food.
Another idea is a produce share program. The city that I work in has a produce sharing program. City employees are encouraged to bring extra seeds and produce to a designated spot in city hall. Vicky has way too many tomatoes this week from her plants; Linda is jonesin’ for some homemade tomato sauce. Everyone wins.
I guess, my point in this is to just know your food. Make smart decisions. I mean, there is the saying “You are what you eat.” That’s truth right there.
The link to Thomas and Bailey’s blog is HERE. I highly recommend checking it out. Adventures. Baby animals. Farm life. Farm struggles. 2 humble guys who have a knack for farming, writing, and throwing dinner parties.