After the VAFPDB meeting on 11/07/12 I found myself thinking further about the general subject of where our food and wood come from.
Many people these days are intensely interested in knowing more about where our food and wood come from, yet many people (sometimes the same people) don’t want to kill anything. They don’t want to kill any animals and they don’t want to kill any trees. This is a strange attitude.
This attitude is currently on display in the controversy over Bill and Lou, the team of oxen at Green Mountain College. Read this article for background. Some of the online comments are interesting! Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross recently issued a statement on this controversy. I support his statement.
Perhaps Green Mountain College can draw inspiration from Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook:
In May 2011 Mr. Zuckerberg made a pledge to consume, for one year, only meat he had hunted or slaughtered himself. He got a hunting license and shot a bison. “My personal challenge,” he explained, is “being thankful for the food I have to eat.”
That quote is from a New York Times article last month that reviewed four books about hunting:
NYT hunting 2012-10-01
If one is philosophically opposed to killing and eating Bill and Lou, is one also opposed to hunting for food? They both involve knowing where your food comes from—up close and personal. And this NYT article makes clear that hunting is becoming trendy. Especially for women. Who knew?
Most of our meat comes from a “food system” where we don’t have a personal connection with the animal. Many people object to that, too. Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University is a widely respected authority on humane slaughter. She recently hosted an informative video on this subject: Video Tour of Beef Plant Featuring Temple Grandin. I highly recommend this 10 minute video. Dr. Grandin spoke at the Vermont Grazing and Livestock Conference at the Lake Morey Inn in January to a large and enthusiastic crowd. She is speaking at UVM on Tuesday 11/13 (details).
Back on the subject of hunting, this was also discussed in a Wall Street Journal article earlier this month about the resurgence of wildlife in the eastern United States:
WSJ wildlife 2012-11-03
There is a quote about hunting at the end of the article from a professor of environmental studies at Brandeis University:
[H]unting is good—one of the best, most responsible forms of stewardship of nature.
It is presently deer season in the northeast, and to the many deer hunters at Yankee Farm Credit (a group which includes women), good luck! And be safe.
The WSJ article included above is by Jim Sterba. Some years ago I saved two other WSJ articles by Mr. Sterba published in 2002 and 2005:
WSJ Great Eastern Forest 2002
WSJ Cut to Preserve 2005
The articles by Mr. Sterba aren’t so much about where our food comes from (except for the comments about hunting), but they have a great deal to say about where our wood comes from. The two topics are closely related, and both are within the purview of the VAFPDB. I highly recommend all three articles. Mr. Sterba has a book coming out next week: Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds. I expect that will be interesting, too.
Back on the subject of food, in 2008 the Vermont Large Farm Dairy Conference featured a speaker from Nebraska named Trent Loos. He had a quote that has stuck with me:
Everything lives, everything dies, and death with a purpose brings full meaning to life.
I agree. For more information about that conference and Mr. Loos’s comments, see this blog post.
What do Vermont farmers think about all this? For one view I recommend this blog: Farm Life Love. This blog is by Joanna Lidback who farms with her husband and 1-year old son in Barton. Here’s what she says about herself:
I am a 30-something who recently got married, had a son and moved to a dairy farm in rural Vermont. We milk about 30 cows and have about 45 youngtock. I work part-time from home which allows me to be home with the baby. I’m learning more and more each day about being a mom, wife, career woman, dairy farmer, home-maker. It’s exhausting at times but I’m feeling truly blessed.
Full disclosure: Joanna works part-time for Farm Credit, but not for Yankee Farm Credit. She works remotely from home for our neighbor Farm Credit East which is headquartered in Connecticut. Some of you may be familiar with the Northeast Dairy Farm Summary (aka the “blue book”) published by Farm Credit. Joanna has been the lead author of that publication for several years.
Joanna tells moving stories. Relevant to the discussion about Bill and Lou is this post:
It’s a Good Day to Put the OId Girl Down
Also relevant are her posts about selling Jersey beef at the local farmers’ market:
Got Jersey Beef?
For the Love of Jersey Beef
Our First Farmers’ Market
Farmers’ Market Conversations, Part I: You Have to Believe in Your Product
Farmers’ Market Conversations, Part II: Our Chosen Farming Practices
So where does our food and wood come from? Largely from killing things. Life cannot exist without killing things. Now there’s a paradox to ponder.