Life and death are a part of nature and we see the interactions up close and personal on the Urban Farm. However this is not the way of most Americans and others in Urban Core areas. Though we have violence and shooting deaths here in Jacksonville everyday, the death associated with food is conveniently removed from most our every day lives.
Winn-Dixie, Publix and other popular grocery markets allow us to order a pound of Boar’s Head Cajun Turkey, sliced sandwich thin, and we keep the meat in our refrigerator, tightly sealed, waiting for us to be hungry enough to make a lunch meat sub sandwich, all without witnessing the bloody end to a farm animal’s life.
I believe there is an honor about having to kill and dress out your own meat you eat while ignoring the death contributes towards a lack of awareness.
Geese, ducks, turkeys and chickens all require time and lots of feed to grow big enough to be ‘eatin’ size’ yet they, as in a sandwich can be completely devoured in a couple of minutes. Four or five months to raise and only a day to devour. Pounds and pounds of feed and forage, gallons and gallons of water for drinking and swimming all invested in a ten pound or so bird eaten at one family meal.
The same amount of grain and forage used to grow the bird to fryer size would have sustained a human for weeks.
Sure we can continue to eat meat every day for every meal until we die for there is nothing stopping us, here in America. I’m sure many people will continue to do so and I choose not to crusade against their habits and beliefs. Yet for me though it is all a different story now.
I choose the step away from the practice of eating meat purchased from the store because I want to eat in a manner where I have a meaningful connection to my food.
Moreover, in my weak attempt to pursue sustainability I’ve elected to reduce my ecological and carbon footprint. For now, effective sustainability activism is not participation in a mighty, public crusade but a personal choice for Kevin Songer. I choose to eat food we quickly grow in the garden; beans, grains, vegetables and fruits.
Consuming a bird in less than thirty minutes when five months of intensive carbon footprint maintenance was required to raise the bird to edible size is not sustainable.
As is usually the case when learning, the Urban Farm efforts have raised more questions about life and death than provided answers. Certainly I’ve learned and seen those ways I’d never before seen, touched or tasted. There is little noticeable affection between our farm fowl, even among those of the same genera.
The turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese are all each focused on self preservation. They want to eat and they will grab food from other beaks quickly and without remorse. Weaklings are shunned, rammed and pecked. Strangers brought into the flock are jumped upon and attacked with amazing ferocity.
But it is a beautiful harshness and there are those moments where the spirits of an Urban Farm critter make a profound connection to ones' soul, usually with amazing eye contact and a fleeting but powerful understanding and acknowledgement between homo sapiens and the animal creature, an understanding that transcends time and place.
The momentary mystical insight into the true understanding of the ways of life is quickly severed though as the bird snaps itself out of the meaningless trance and shakes his or her head, covering my starry-eyed questioning face with slobber and half-chewed forage.
The goose walks away and I go wash my face off with chlorinated water supplied through a reinforced nylon hose and cast metal spray nozzle made in China. The goose has a life with no deceit. Human life is levels more complicated.