A number of things on my mind lately around a theme. Just going to hash them out here not really gonna get anything solved.
There’s this thing with being a Buddhist and eating animals. It’s the same dissonance a lot of folks feel whether they are Buddhists or not. We are animals that need to eat. It’s not entirely comfortable. There’s going to be some suffering involved.
Let’s leave aside for the moment the question of whether or not plants have a consciousness. I believe this question is worthy of serious consideration, but it is complicated bordering on philosophical and somewhat secondary to the concerns I want to hash out here.
Being a vegetarian didn’t work out for me, although I’ll gladly eat my fill of vegetables. A plate of BBQ is just plain boring if it ain’t half slathered in collards, TBQH. I found out not too long ago I got the diabeetus, and there are at least a few other dietary concerns going on what with the 82 hour work weeks. Adding arbitrary restrictions just isn’t gonna be the way to go for me, personally. More power to you if you wanna go vegan, but if you’re not looking your farmer straight in the eye, you’re pretty much still party to the wholesale destruction of monarch and pollinator habitat, not to mention a whole lot of deer that probably got shot to make way for more and more acres of corn and soy. None of which is doing anything to solve our carbon problem. Oh and did I mention our lakes and oceans are full of plastic?
Where are we headed? There are some crazy and not so crazy ideas out there. There are warehouses in cities like Chicago where they’re growing lettuce and tilapia indoors. This is a great conversion of a resource, but it isn’t a solution that’s gonna work for Kansas. I’ve also read about cloning meat cells or how we should all start eating insects, raised in sterile labs no doubt. I can’t even get my head around the cloning thing but chickens are already great at eating insects, and they’ll turn degraded ag fields back into pasture while they’re at it. I have eaten crickets before and they weren’t bad for a garnish, but you can do a lot more with chicken from a culinary perspective. Cows, sheep, pigs, goats, they all are gonna do a better job at converting degraded lands back into natural habitat than endless applications of RoundUp.
The RoundUp thing is totally a restoration strategy, too. I’m not making this up! Too many of these solutions seem to have this idea that since “conventional” ag is bad, we need to go even more off the wall with the genetic splicing chemical weirdness factory solutions. Maybe some of that stuff will provide something useful on a planet with 9 billion mouths to feed, but it doesn’t provide any appeal for me.
So, let’s take it as a given that livestock have a role to play in sustainable farming, and that just because Big Ag is wrong headed doesn’t mean that all farms are bad. All these thoughts are worthy of further exploration but they aren’t my main focus right now and I’m tired and need to wrap this up.
If I am going to run a farm, and that farm is gonna run livestock, I am going to want to make sure that those animals have the best possible life while they are on the farm, all the way up until the point where they become somebody’s groceries. I’ve already been party to the culling of a few roosters, and more than once I’ve had to euthanize some bunnies that a volunteer may have inadvertently maimed. Taking a life is not any fun, but it’s quickly becoming evident to me that it’s the most important chore on the farm. It’s worth learning to do well, with skill and efficiency, and above all with respect and compassion for those lives that are being sacrificed to feed other lives. With a job so important, I don’t know that I’d be comfortable outsourcing it, at least not without first getting some very first hand experience with the ins and outs. I need to trust that those lives are being valued with the same esteem in which I hold them. I have more plenty homework to do here, but visiting some farms where they do their own slaughter has just gotten bumped pretty high on my list of priorities. It seems the least I can do, before I commit to raising a few hundred lives on pasture.
The words are getting blurry and the alarm clock is set to go off too soon. My apologies for writing something less than coherent, but I felt it was time I got something fresh down here, whether I’ve explored every detail adequately or not.
OM MANI PEME HUNG and to all a good night.