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?