An excellent blog entry about one of the more challenging aspects of keeping chickens. I still want to do it, and hope to do it, one day…
“The following is a letter to [an] Angry Vegetarian and to any others who may feel the same way. But before you read it please understand that this letter is not directed at the vegetarian diet in general. I have no qualms with it, at all. Millions of people avoid meat for religious, health-related, or various reasons of preference. This letter is not directed at them. This is a letter for the angry folks who think not eating meat makes them morally superior to those of us who do.”
Wow! This is an awesome, excellent essay. So true, and so well said. I will only include a couple of excerpts here, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. It is well worth it!
The truth is there is no meal we can eat without killing. None. A trip to your local grocery store for tofu and spinach may not include a single animal product but the harvesting of such food costs endless animal lives. Growing fields of soy beans for commercial clients means removing habitat from thousands of wild animals, killing them through deforestation and loss of their home. Songbirds and insects are killed by pesticides at legion. Fertilizers are made from petroleum now, and those fields of tofu seeds are literally being sprayed with oil we are fighting wars over. Deer died for that tofu. Songbirds died. Men and women in battle died. And then when the giant tofu factory harvested the beans they ran over those chemical oil fields of faux-food with combines that rip open groundhogs, mice, and rabbits. Tear apart frogs and fledgling birds. It is a messy and bloody business making tofu or any of that other non-murderous food…
You can not ignore this. You can’t call a small farmer a murderer and turn a blind eye to the groundhog ripped in two, the owl without a nest, or the blood spilled for oil halfway across the globe through military force. I mean, you can ignore it, of course you can. You can also search the internet for people killing pigs and call them names, but that doesn’t make you right. There is nothing you or I eat that wasn’t once alive save for some minerals. Plants and mushrooms are living things, just as alive as animals. And we take their lives wholesale and without regret. In the words of Joel Salatin,
“… By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”
We can graze our animals in ways that returns good nutrients to the soil and heal the earth. We can grow two or three harvests of those grasses and feed them to animals like sheep, cows, and goats all winter. This is what my part of the world eats if they are serious about saving the environment. We can do this without using a lot of oil, close to home, and harvest the animals we know without driving to a store to waste gas, plastic bags, and pave another parking space. When I kill a chicken I end one life. A life I was present for, grateful for, and worked hard for. I have a hard time taking criticism seriously from someone who swipes a credit card for a bag of groceries they have convinced themselves is more righteous, having never weeded a row or hefted a bag of feed. A really hard time…
Eat in whatever way invokes respect and gratitude in your soul. Be grateful we live in this time of contrived and soon-to-be over luxury and abundance. But do not come to battle here, accusing those of us raising good meat of murder. Those are fighting words…
Read. Please. And if necessary or appropriate, learn.
• Emails from folks with allergic or digestive issues to wheat in the United States experienced no symptoms whatsoever when they tried eating pasta on vacation in Italy.
• Confused parents wondering why wheat consumption sometimes triggered autoimmune reactions in their children but not at other times.
• In my own home, I’ve long pondered why my husband can eat the wheat I prepare at home, but he experiences negative digestive effects eating even a single roll in a restaurant.
There is clearly something going on with wheat that is not well known by the general public. It goes far and beyond organic versus non-organic, gluten or hybridization because even conventional wheat triggers no symptoms for some who eat wheat in other parts of the world…
I have chosen not to focus intensively on either ecological or agricultural issues in this blog, although both are of very intense personal interest to me, because there is so much other “stuff” going on, that when I decided to open The Anglophilic Anglican up to contemporary political commentary, I decided not to dilute the focus too much.
However, one of the premises of this blog is that traditional society, and traditional life-ways – particularly, but not exclusively, those of Western Christendom – are under attack from a variety of quarters, and this is one of them: the industrialization and globalization of agriculture, and the replacement of wise husbandry and stewardship of the land by people who live and work close to that land, and are responsible to their local communities, a hallmark of (most) agriculture since its earliest beginnings in the “Neolithic revolution,” with cynical profiteering by multinational corporations.
Note: it’s not the farmers who are getting filthy rich from the (mis-)use of chemicals or GMOs in agriculture, it’s the producers of those chemicals or GMOs. Most farmers still want to do the right thing, but they’re facing an uphill battle, caught between industry propaganda and the lure of higher yields with less effort. Who loses? We all do:
The farmers, who aside from the moral issues are still usually struggling to make ends meet.
The local community, since the internationalization of agriculture shifts the money-making aspects from Main Street to corporate boardrooms.
The consumer, who as this article makes all-too-clear, are consuming agricultural products – one hesitates to call it “food” – that are making us sick, and in some cases may be slowly killing us.
The environment, which suffers from herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer run-off, and is at constant risk from the potential escape of genetically modified organisms into the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the corporate fat-cats get fatter. What’s the answer? Well, there is no easy one. This article makes a good case for avoiding conventional wheat, wherever possible (a real challenge, especially for people on a limited budget), but in general, the less processed, industrialized food we can consume, the better: for our own health, the health of our communities, and the health of our all-important ecosystems. Here is the rule of thumb I try to use, finances allowing, when it comes to the source of my food (in order of preference):
- Local, organic. Obviously, this is the gold standard!
- Local, non-organic – but sustainable, if possible. Look for “certified naturally grown,” or at least “IPM (Integrated Pest Management) certified.” In any case, at least local farms have a vested interest in not making their neighbors sick, and often you can actually see how they’re growing their food… some even invite this. Look for those farms.
- Non-local, organic. It’s better not to have to eat food that has been shipped for hundreds of miles, for reasons of taste, nutrition, and fuel consumption; but even at that, it’s better to eat food that has been grown organically – even far away – than food that’s been pumped full of chemicals.
- Non-local, non-organic – as a last resort, to sustain life, if that’s all you can get (or afford). Try to be as choosy as possible, and if nothing else, at least shop the edges of the supermarket: that’s where the (reasonably) fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy hang out. Avoid the brightly-packed, but hideously over-processed, “food products” in the center as much as possible.
We are under attack from, as I say, many quarters: political, social, economic, environmental, nutritional, even medical. Globalism and corporatism are the enemies, at least as much as the more obvious ones like Islamic terrorists, and runaway, displacement-level immigration. The more we can stick to healthy, sustainable, local sources – from keeping politics as local as possible (with exceptions like securing national borders), to patronizing the local farmer, local artisan, craftsman, or business, the better. For all of us!
Poland’s farmers speak up for “real farming and real food”:
Having in mind respect for the beautiful traditions of peasant family farms, which in a unique way contribute towards the preservation of culture and biodiversity of crops in the Polish countryside and the best foods available in Europe;
recognising [sic] the key role of small and medium farms in the protection and preservation of food sovereignty that is essential for the basic supply of food for the Nation;
and believing that the only way that can guarantee optimal health and good condition of natural environment is the promotion of a diet based on local high-quality foods and the preservation of country landscape marked by natural biodiversity,
we demand that the President and the Polish Government:
Immediately start implementing a conscious policy whose aim is the protection and promotion of true qualities of the Polish countryside which serve the Polish Nation, and which are currently being irrevocably devastated by rapid globalisation and development of industrial farming,
[and to] remove the restrictions concerning the possibility to buy a full range of products from local farmers by shops, schools, restaurants and other institutions…
We urge the President and the Polish Government to protect the unique geographical and historical strength of Poland based on traditional Polish countryside and create/draw a new vision of farming in order to prevent the imminent global catastrophe that threatens life and health of mankind and biodiversity.
Follow the link to read the rest.
Another reason to say,
Bóg błogosławi polską!
(God bless Poland!)
Now, who – Roman Catholic or otherwise – can help liking this…?
One of the great things about being Catholic is that the Church has quite literally thought of everything at some point or another. Some inventive cleric even thought to include a beer blessing in the Rituale Romanum… Creation is good. Beer is good. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
And one of the great things about being Anglican is that one can reasonably “borrow” things from both “sides” – Roman Catholic and Reformed (not to mention Eastern Orthodox, just ask the Scots Non-Jurors who ordained Samuel Seabury and provided the American Church with the model for our classic Prayer of Consecration) – so long as they do not conflict with the Book of Common Prayer and the XXXIX Articles!
Here is a version of the beer blessing slightly modified to suit Anglican sensibilities, and to turn it into a prayer that can be said by lay-persons:
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who madest both heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
O Lord our God, who dost cause grain to spring up from the earth for our sustenance: do thou bless, we pray thee, this thy creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from that thy good gift of grain, fruit of the earth and product of human labour, that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race; and grant, for thy mercy’s sake, that whomsoever shall drink of it may gain both health in body and peace in soul: Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
V. Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us and remain with us, now and always. Amen.
For the original forms, in both English and Latin, click through to the linked blog post!
We need to turn to the earth from which we were formed, and which we were commanded to tend. There we can seek reintegration and reconnection; we can seek healing.
At risk of oversimplifying, I think there are three things that make this medicine so fit for all of us suffering, in varying ways, from the challenges of contemporary culture. Gardening calls us to work, to wait, and to worship.
Oh, this is good! This is very good. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!
“The Southern Agrarian movement, born in the 1920’s, is rooted deep in Southern soil. It also goes back to the English Cavalier culture with its system of aristocracy and social hierarchy. The need to return to this simpler, more orderly, and self-reliant way of life has never been greater than it is today. Southern Agrarianism is a cultural movement, and that is our primary focus.”
As someone who was born, bred, and is currently living in the northern marches of what has traditionally been known as the “Old South” (antebellum South – Maryland being by history and heritage a Southern state, part of the Tidewater region, and of what was in the 18th century known as the “Tobacco Coast”), I find deep resonances and affinities in the Southern Agrarian movement. This blog, The Southern Agrarian, by Stephen Clay McGehee, is superb. As he writes,
In short, this is about leading the way to a life set free from the bonds of an increasingly complex society and the vulnerabilities that go with it. It is about tradition and social order. It is about growing plants and raising animals and understanding the meaning of husbandry and stewardship. It is about understanding our place in the world – those who came before us and those who will follow after us.
Southern Agrarianism is a Blood and Soil movement. It takes in two of the most basic concepts in all of history: Our People, and the soil that provides the food that feeds our people. It means that, while we wish all the best toward others, our immediate family comes first, followed by ever larger circles of extended family, and then on out from there. There is Our People, and there is Other People.
This being Southern Agrarianism, our people are the Southern people; those who originated in Europe and built the South. Historically, the culture of the South was heavily influenced by the Cavaliers who fled the violence of the English civil war and settled in the South. They brought with them the English high culture which translated into the Southern Plantation culture: a hierarchy-based culture that was deeply rooted in the soil. [I would only add that there was significant influence on Southern culture from the Scots, Irish, and Scotch-Irish who moved into the mountain hinterland, as well, but the Southern Plantation culture of which he speaks was largely English – and Anglican.] There was a sense of kinship that was shared by both the smallest share cropping farmer and the largest plantation owner; they shared the common bond of those who live close to the soil. They were Southern Agrarians.
As you can see from the above, there is a direct historical and cultural connection between the Southern Agrarian tradition and the “Anglophilic Anglicanism” of this my own blog! I commend The Southern Agrarian, and the Southern Agrarian tradition and movement, to your sympathetic attention.
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