Browngirl Going Green


Waiting for Our Pig
January 21, 2010, 10:25 pm
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I’m in the (hopefully) last days of a seemingly endless wait for the delivery of the humanely-raised, pasture-raised whole pig (yes, I said PIG) that I bought with six other Bay Area foodies via the Bay Area Meat CSA, which is essentially a big, complex network of message boards that help folks self-organize a collective purchase of a sustainably-farmed animal. More about CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs) in general here, and a good article about Bay Area folks buying meat through CSAs here.

Since I saw the excellent documentary film Food, Inc. several months ago with my partner, Henry, I’ve been trying to only buy and eat meat from sustainably-farmed and humanely-treated animals. (You have to watch the film to get a sense of why it would cause this dramatic behavior-change). This is a lot harder than it sounds, although it’s much easier to do it in the Bay Area–where there are many local farmers that are dedicated to raising and selling these kinds of animals. I’m not going to get into the vegetarian/vegan vs. meat-eater argument here (but I will at a later time), but I will say that I love meat. I also love animals–and I don’t, thusfar, see a contradiction between the two.

So I figure the least I can do is get my meat from places that aren’t torturing the animals or turning them into strangely mutated creatures (like the conventionally raised chickens that can’t walk because their breasts have been made so huge by hormone-laced feed), but instead are treating the animals with respect and giving them fairly good, happy lives.

Ironically–or serendipitously, depending on how you look at it–‘my’ pig, which we’re getting from Godfrey Family Farms in Marysville, Calif., was killed on my birthday (December 30). This made me pause and reflect on the fact that I was soon going to knowingly eat meat from an animal whose life was unnaturally ended on the day of my birth. And while that knowledge isn’t going to stop me from enjoying that meat, I’m sure, it does make me more deeply respect and honor the animals that I eat in general.

My family is from the Philippines, a largely rural country–and they are mostly peasants. I say this with no irony and with the utmost respect. My people (starting with my mother and going back generations upon generations) worked the land, fished and lived off of nature’s bounty. I’m of the first generation in my family removed from this earth-based culture and lifestyle, and I know I can learn a lot from my family about how to live more in touch with nature. I have family members who have killed animals with their own hands (fish and chickens and goats, and probably pigs), but who I think have more respect for nature and a deeper understanding of their relationship to it than many vegetarian, Prius-driving, organic-produce-buying, self-proclaimed environmentalists that I know. Because my family’s relationship to nature is not intellectual or political or based on something they read in a magazine or a book. Their relationship is based in the way they have fed and sheltered themselves and their children–in the way they had to survive.

And so I strive to have a similar relationship with my food as my ancestors have–in a more modern way. And so I wait, guiltlessly, for my pig, and look forward to eating its meat–with gratitude and respect.

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