We’ve been learning a lot about chickens lately here in the Ramsay house. Fascinating creatures. They are omnivores, so their systems were designed to break down things that could be harmful to cows (like fly larvae). For this reason, they make fabulous companions to cows, as they aid in making the soil healthy for the grass. Since they love eating the creepy crawlies, they help control things like parasites and their excrement acts as a natural fertilizer, creating more nutrient dense grass for the cows. It’s pretty cool how God designed these animals to work in tandem.
In our research, we came across this video of Joel Salatin: http://youtu.be/7GYjRv8dlDg
Whether you watch it or not, I wanted to share a bit from it that was profound to me. In the video, they are actually walking folks through how to process chickens. Before they begin, they discuss the sacredness of life and they actually give thanks for the birds before they begin the process of slaughtering/processing. They make the point that in order for us to have life (food to eat) – there must be death. This is a simple enough fact in our minds but we have become so accustomed to the many degrees of separation that exist in our food chain from the source to what is on our plates, that we really don’t have to devote any mental space to it. And, let’s be honest – many of us would prefer to keep it that way – ignorance is bliss, right? Or is it? I think knowing, while hard for many of us who have grown up in a society where our food travels hundreds of miles so we can eat what we like, is actually empowering and humbling. Empowering, because when we know more about the source of our food – we begin (hopefully) to make different choices about what we consume. There is pride and value in getting to know the local farmer that grew the tomatoes in your salad. There is no value added when we trace back the source of our high fructose corn syrup to a lab somewhere. And humbling because knowing – seeing our food at the source – confronts us with the reality of the blood about to be shed so that we can eat.
For centuries, societies have understood this basic truth and even today, many cultures [out of necessity] raise their food in their backyards. I contend that when you have a hand in the raising of your food (literally), you appreciate it that much more as a gift. I don’t think that means that every urbanite should start growing a rooftop garden (though not a bad idea), but I think getting to know your local farmers/ranchers is a good place to start for a perspective shift. Who knows, you may be as crazy as us one day and be so inspired by Food, Inc. that some things in your life start to change.