The euphemisms we use to describe the manner in which we grow and prepare our food is often humorous to me. I don’t laugh at the impending death of animals. Nor the need to be crass about it. I think there is probably more of an understanding considering we deal with the cold hard facts about what is actually happening. We don’t merely ‘send animals to market’. Most of the time we personally take animals to be slaughtered at the abattoir. We do so in small quantities, where the defining features of animals on your trailer, stays with you for a few hours. Things like the facial markings of an ox. The description of ‘going to market’, is not for the benefit of anyone in the process of taking that animal’s life. Descriptions of things seldom modify the task at hand.
On the surface of it, you would think that the main beneficiaries of fluffy descriptions are those who choose to eat animals and outsource all the gory details. I have no problem with this. We base our business on exactly that premise. We want people to be cognizant of how their food is prepared. We just want them to understand that we are taking that burden off their shoulders. It’s a part of the job that we do, so that we are able to do other parts of our job. We see it as our responsibility. It is not something I enjoy. Strangely, it is something I value.
The idea that by being part of the process of taking a life, you somehow derive benefit, is odd. It’s a strange thing to try and articulate. Coming to terms with killing things, adds a perspective to your life that is difficult to describe. I’m not sure perspective is the right word, it is more than just looking at the same things differently. It also shifts your position. It make you look at the same things differently, while simultaneously changing the things you are looking at. It is definitely peculiar to describe it as adding value. The process is very weighted. It brings up questions and forces you to answer things you wouldn’t normally. It adds so much to how you experience the world around you. The overriding consequence is probably a little counter intuitive. It magnifies your compassion. At least it did for me. I think if it didn’t - you wouldn’t be normal. There is a concurrent finality and ongoing process that both stop and continue all at once.
The process forced us to work out what we were comfortable with in terms of how we rear our animals. It is the end of a process that has taken many months of care and hard work. There is a degree of achievement in death. At the end of the day it is our stamp to say that we are proud of what we do. To that end, euphemisms help too. They also lend a level of respect toward the animal. I know it is probably just a superficial one for our benefit, but intention needs to count for something.
With the manner in which we do things, there are loads of tradeoffs and it is by no means binary. We think we have come up with a pretty good solution - all things considered. I’d love to have the conversation with anyone who is keen on finding out why we do what we do. We sit in a very awkward position where 7 years and three droughts later, we know what we need to do to make ethically reared meat a reality for a lot more people. Frustratingly, but unsurprisingly in our current climate, we are battling to raise the necessary funds to do it. As a last attempt, we are actively looking for funding partners that share our passion to try and make ethically reared animals the norm, for us, our livestock and the environment.
Getting ‘these little piggies to market’ will be the start and end for us.