Friday, June 20, 2008

A Farmer Speaks

{This mama is working on getting her groove back. Being an introvert, I've gotten used to being by myself quite a bit, and so I'm just getting back into the old routine. It's good though, because I already feel closer to my girl than I have in a long time, just being at home with her, or the grocery store or with friends. It's that feeling you have at bedtime when you've been with someone all day and no matter how many struggles there were, you've made it through and it's time to snuggle. Our latest hurdle is that she broke out in that telltale fifth disease cheek rash yesterday, so we spent an hour at the doctor for a three minute appointment to get an all clear note (it's not contagious once you have the rash). I can see this is not the best thing to come down with in the summer because everyone can see it. She asked me what to say this morning if kids asked her about it. Poor kid. Well, on with the show.}

I'm not sure what made me pick up The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend. Well, that's not really true, I've been completely obsessed with food lately, and I've been reading vegetarian cookbooks like there's no tomorrow. This book has a unique point of view and that is because it's by a writer who also farms sheep. Not only that, but she farms sheep in southern Minnesota, and mentions farmers in the book whose products I buy both at the grocery store and at the farmer's market. Friend doesn't seem to take herself too seriously - this book definitely has a different tone from others I've read. She's learned about the various methods of farming, believes that compassionate, sustainable farming is best and that we owe it to ourselves and the earth and the animals to make wise choices about what we eat. We may not be able to do the right thing, or what we view as the perfect thing all the time - but do the best you can and set reachable goals. She seems to have an interesting view of vegetarianism - in that if everyone became vegetarian or vegan, there would really be no point in maintaining certain animal species - and that by becoming a compassionate carnivore and voting with your dollars, you really may be able to make a difference in farming practices.

Some of what Friend writes about, I already knew, but it's her take on things that kept this book interesting for me. It not often that you can read about what farmers think about raising their animals, how close they let themselves get, and what it's like to drive them to the slaughterhouse. I appreciated learning more about small, local slaughterhouse operations.

As for me, I'm still working on eating less meat. The last two nights I cooked from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone - well, I used her recipes as a template anyway. So we're doing it, and some nights it's better than others. It helps when dinner is followed by leftover birthday cake. But tonight, the girl has requested tacos, 'regular tacos!' so tacos she will get.


Lezlie said...

Hi, Tara! If you want to continue in the vegetarian vein, Boca makes some crumbles that I've substituted in tacos, sloppy joes, anything calling for ground hamburger, and even the most dedicated carnivores have not been able to tell the difference. I use them all the time!

Have a great weekend!

LisaMM said...

The cover alone makes me want to turn into a vegetarian.

julochka said...

sounds like a book to add to my basket next time i'm on amazon. compassionate carnivore, i like that title. :-)

Bea Elliott said...

What I don't get from reading excerpts is the part about "loving the animals". Unless I'm clueless about "love", killing a creature (unnecessarily) that I have emotional attachment to is a total contradiction. My take on the whole "compassionate" carnivore is that they suffer extreme moral hypocrisy. For health & heart.... Go VEGAN

Tara said...

Hi Lezlie, Thanks for your suggestion. I've considered using those products but I'm not sure if that's the direction I want to go. In the same way that I don't agree with those cookbooks that tell you to put pureed vegetables in your kid's food, I don't think I should let my child think she's eating meat when she's not. Maybe that's not what you meant! But I did promise my husband no tofu... ;-)

LisaMM, it's a great photo, isn't it?

Julochka, glad it appeals to you!

Provoked, Thanks for your comment. I see your point.

Lezlie said...

Hi, Tara! I totally think you should tell your kids what it is, if you decide to use those products. I just didn't tell my friends, because we were curious if they'd notice. They ended up pleasantly surprised, but honesty is absolutely the best policy for this stuff. (And tofu really does take some getting used to. While I like it a lot, I don't blame your hubby! :-)

Good luch with everything!

Mrs of the Regiment said...

That sounds like a really interesting concept. Eating meat; but only eating animals who have been raised and, I assume, slaughtered humanely.

Might have to give it, the book, a go.


Tara said...

Sarah, it was a good read and complimented some other reading I've done. I have been able to incorporate these ideas into my life, though certainly not 100%. I like that the author writes about doing what you can, what you're comfortable with, that it all makes a difference.