Since reading an excellent blog the other day titled “Grow it, kill it, cut it, cook it” by Janette Jenyns (QLD) ) it has occurred to me that perhaps we have all become a little bit too precious and ‘not in my back yard’, or rather ‘not on my plate’.
I believe one of the reasons we find ourselves on the back foot as farmers, is because what we see on a daily basis as normal, is quite confronting to the non-farmer. By saying that, I do not mean that we are desensitized – in fact the opposite – I believe it makes us more aware and better able to appreciate what we have at a much higher level.
Growing up on a farm (actually, it was a property, but we are all heading towards generalized lingo), I watched my parents grow food from all sections of the ‘food pyramid’ – we had a milking cow, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, sheep, pigs, cattle and chickens. In fact, when my parents were first married and didn’t have a brass razoo to rub together, they even shot feral rabbits and made hearty stews!
I’m sure some of the reason was because they lived a very long way from the nearest grocery store and were cash strapped, but having taken on some of these ‘grow your own projects’ myself, it is also about the satisfaction of growing your own food.
Perhaps we are not sensitive enough to a non farming background? As non farmers, are people too precious to be told of or exposed to the truth behind the “black styro-foamed, glad-wrapped, parsley topped” rib fillet purchased at the local butcher? Is it any less gruesome to eat a piece of meat that arrives on their plate at Cha Cha Cha, Brisbane, if they remain blissfully unaware that it was grazing in a paddock 800km away one month ago? Why is it more gruesome, or off putting, to watch it be killed, cut up, barbequed and THEN presented on a plate? Personally, I would find it much more reassuring to know of the process – the strict transport, saleyard, feedlot, abattoir to supermarket legislative framework that lands prime Aussie beef on your plate.
I mean come on, let’s not beat around the bush here – milk does not originally come from the containers on a supermarket shelf – it comes from the udder of a cow via suction cups on her teats. Same goes for yoghurt, cream, cheese, butter and anything else they package up as dairy these days. Meat – chicken, goat, beef, pork, fish, crustacean, insect (whatever!) – it was once alive, no matter how it arrives on a plate. Vegetables and fruits – sorry, but they were once alive too.
An alarming number of children have no idea where their food comes from. Perhaps highlighting the alarming number of parents who must also take our food production for granted.
There is no correlation with animal cruelty and farmers selling or using their animals for food or fibre. Farmers are not cruel. But we are practical. And Efficient. And Productive. And in Australia we receive minimal subsidies in comparison to the rest of the world and its free trade agreements. And everyone wants a ‘down down’ price, while costs go up. But somehow we still manage to feed, cloth and supply families. Possibly even your family!
And one of the most precious things to us is the land we are custodians of and the animals, food or fibre that we are growing which supplements the worlds growing human population.