Meat

Meat, this is such an emotive topic. The fact is that we are a family that does eat meat so we need to see how this fits into our sustainable and green challenge.

The biggest thing that I have realized is that while it’s easy to point a finger at the farmers, complaining that they have cruel farming practices, the reality is that we as consumers are support these practices. Rachel was asking in the car today why chicken farms are so cruel. I really do not want to fill her head with over idealized propoganda against farmers and meat, so it was important to me, that the answer included that we as the consumers are also at fault. We demand cheap meat, we want lower and lower more compeditive prices and then we are surpised that aminals are not treated well. We turn a blind eye and never look past the cling film and syrofoam packaging because if we don’t know the suffering, we don’t have to feel guilt. But we are guilty, our obsession with a eating a lot of meat at a low prices is what drives these farming practices.

Ethical meat costs more. This is a fact. It is no point saying you can’t afford meat from a farm that treats its animals well. You can, just eat less meat. Then use the money saved to buy meat from a place where the animals do not suffer. We as consumers are not powerless, we can speak with our Rands and move our money to support smaller farms with animal welfare as a priority.

The criteria that I have decided to evaluate the meat we eat and decide what we are happy with are:

1) Can I keep/raise them at home? – truly sustainable
2) What impact on the environment does what I am eating have?
3) Are the animals treated well including the slaughter processes?
4) Beyond the label, I do not want to be dupped by a label, organic meat can be sold as such even if the animals are in a feed lot.

Raising our own meat.
* Chickens: I don’t have the space to have proper free range chickens at a meat production level. I am not willing to have confined chickens so while we get a lot of eggs and we might have the odd Rooster or older/injured hen we are not going to produce enough meat chickens and still have an intact garden.
* Rabbit: This is actually one of the best choices for urban families as far as raising your own meat, the breed and grow very fast and the meat is very healthy. I am not sure if I can get over eating cute bunnies but this idea is not off the table yet ( did you see what I did there?) I just need to do some more research
* Aquaponics is something that I am very interested in and so is The Geek’s brother Jacques so this might well be something that we do in the future and this would mean a source of fish for the family too.

Any other meat in our small urban setting is not realistic, so for now we are cutting down the amount we eat and are looking for outside producers that meet our criteria. Having done a bit of research on the conditions of most mass animal farming it was just not something I could support any longer.

As I find ethic meat suppliers I will blog about them and let you know what we have discovered. Please feel free to let me know about places in other areas as my focus will of course me on the Western Cape but I am happy to highlight other ethic suppliers around the country.

How much does it matter to you where your meat comes from and what conditions the animals lived in?

8 thoughts on “Meat

  1. Just be careful when it comes to rabbit meat. There is such a thing as ‘rabbit meat starvation’ because the meat is very poor in certain essential nutrients. If your diet is not carefully balanced you can become quite sick.

    AS for where we get our meat? We eat a lot of venison which we hunt (ethically on a friend’s farm), butcher and prepare ourselves. So I’d say I know exactly where each packet of mince, piece of borewors and chop comes from!

    • Tara I am not sure I could ever eat only rabbit so hopefully that will not be a problem. I am still not sure I can eat rabbit at all 🙂
      So great you are so involved in where your food comes from.

  2. To me, the money I have to spent on food is (sorry to say) more important than buying expensive meat. Survival is the thing for me and my family.
    But I do take my hat of to you and your family, trying to find solutions to live more green.

    • Blackhuff I work with a very limited budget. We are struggling to pay off our debit so I am not working with a lot of money. But I would rather eat meat only once a week than know that animals suffered for my food. We just eat less meat. A lot less meat.

  3. Awesome post!
    We actually don’t eat a lot of meat. It’s expensive and takes too long to prepare during the week. I buy maybe 3 smallish packs of meat for the month from the butchery. We mostly eat chicken and fish. As far as possible I try to stick to free-range chicken which is expensive so I watch the media for cheaper prices. I am trying to convince my DH to get us chickens to slaughter on a regular basis but he is NOT keen. I have never even thought of rabbit, must do my homework on that one and I have no idea what aquaponics is – will google this.
    So, in answer to your question of whether I care about ethical meat? The answer is YES. I would NOT buy meat from a place where the animals didn’t have a good, fulfilling life.

  4. I’m fortunate that I live in a peri-urban area and we raise our own chickens to slaughter and sell some of them live to people in our community. But mid-way through your post, I decided to run a quick survey among my family members to find out if they would also like us to raise rabbits as our alternative meat source. The answer was a resounding “NO”. Turns out they can’t ever imagine eating rabbits. They’re pets, not food, I was told.

    • Damaria this is the way most of my family, except The Geek, feels. Pity as they really are a great addition to a backyard urban ‘farm’

  5. Being a daughter of a rabbit farmer (Dutch) I love rabbits and will eat it as one source of meat. For the rest of our meat I will have to look into this, as in Pretoria we got most of our meat from a friend (mens kyk nie ‘n gegewe perd in die bek nie – and no, I don’t know the english translation).
    I do have a problem with fish too because of over-fishing and the amount of waste – fish meat that goes off, wrong fish in a catch of whatever they actually wanted, etc.

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