Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thoughts on Bunny

Professor Chen raises some intriging issues in his post, Bunny: It's Whats for Dinner. First, there is the impact of knowing what, and sometimes, who you are eating. The second issue, not to be overlooked but which I shall save for a later comment, is the serious issue of animal welfare and humane slaughter.

Except for the hunter who with honesty of purpose kills and eats his or her game, it seems that most people would rather distance themselves from any real understanding of the fact that the meat they are consuming was in fact the flesh of a living being. And, who can blame them? Scientific research continues to produce discoveries that animals have more cognition, more understanding, and more emotion that we ever thought possible. The closer they seem to us (and we to them), the more uncomfortable it seems to eat them.

When I grew up in rural Washington County, Minnesota many of my peers participated in 4-H projects in which they raised a young farm animal from birth, training it, bathing it, grooming it and completely befriending it, after which they "showed it" at the county fair and then watched it (most often through many tears) sold at auction for meat. I wanted no part of that desensitizing experience. After bottle feeding and raising "Tiger," an orphan lamb as a child, the thought of eating "leg of lamb" seems closer to a Hannibal Lecter line than a delicacy. Leg of lamb?? Think about it. At least they could call it something else . . . even hamburger is not called ground cow.

But, what has happened to the 4-H projects I recall? This summer, my local paper reported "Washington County Fair Shows Moving Toward Pets And Away From Farm Animals." There are many factors at work - PETA calls it "progressive" and the University of Minnesota describes it as a way "to reach out to nonfarm kids." Either way, participation is up, with horses and dogs taking the lead. How have the kids reacted?
Raising animals to kill? Eeewwww.

"I am not a vegetarian or anything," said Kelsey Binder, 18, of Afton, who will be entering horses and a dog into obedience and agility contests. "But I don't think I could eat my own animal."

Instead, she said, her livestock-raising friends swap the meat of their animals with other friends, to avoid eating the animal they raised. She said one girl raises ducks for the fair — they are killed and eaten by her father only when she leaves town.
What to make of all this? Since we now eat meat because we enjoy it rather than because we need it, clearly people can chose what meat to eat and even whether to eat meat at all. How Americans make that choice in the future may produce some interesting results.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one cannot eat the animals one raised, then why should one eat animals at all? Clearly, people who raise animals see that their animals (really, all animals) are not just walking steaks and deep fried chicken legs. They must also see the suffering/fear their animals go through right before and during their planned murder/slaying; hence, the trading of animals mentioned in the article.

The majority of Americans think it's natural and their God-given right to slay and eat animals in mass quantities (hundreds of times worse that the Holocaust). Well, it's scientifically proven humans do not need meat to survive and the Holy Bible clearly states that man is on this earth to protect the animals not to slay them.

8/03/2008 9:47 PM  
Blogger Kelsey said...

My name is Kelsey Binder (the one quoted in your blog and in the pioneer press article) and I would just like to say that overall I disagree with the article, the report writing it had a story in mind before contacting me and the others he chose to quote. In my opinion the fact that their are fewer farm animals in 4H is more due to the fact that there is less farm land in our area, as cities like Woodbury get larger it is only logical that there would be a move towards non-livestock projects. I personally do not know anyone in 4H that has chosen not to raise livestock because they didn't wish to eat their own animal.

7/24/2009 2:59 AM  
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