Eat Local, Kill Local: Part II

Food might inspire passion but–as I have just finished reading yet another disturbing account of backyard slaughtering–I’m also convinced it can bring out the absolute worst in an otherwise well-meaning human being. What is it about raising and killing an animal that taps our deepest capacity for self-delusion? ┬áThe particular post that has me shaking with anger ends with this earnest call to arms:

Only consumers can change the market.
Make the choice.
Be responsible.
Feel good about the food you eat and where it comes from.

The post is dedicated to teaching urban homesteaders how to “humanely butcher” ducks. But what, I wonder, is “humane” about shoving a live duck head-first into an upside down cone, holding it still, and slitting its throat? Is it humane that, because this woman has not a clue about what she’s doing, two of the ducks “held out for almost 10 minutes with some thrashing and splattering of duck blood”? And is it humane that her response to this botched slaughter was “Good thing i wore old pants and sneakers”?

Is local meat really worth such human degradation?

Then comes this penultimate dose of righteousness: “Just because you may choose not to think about where that meat comes from, or how it was treated when it was a living animal, doesn’t make the frequent mis-management and disrespect of meat animals any less prevalent.” I read this and I’m left to wonder if the food movement hasn’t gone totally Orwellian.

Here’s the link, and be forewarned, the pictures capture some pretty disgusting atrocities:



Eat Local, KIll Local: The Backyard Slaughter

There’s a growing movement afoot right now, most of it concentrated in the Bay Area, to legalize the backyard slaughter of farm animals. The quest to kill locally is part and parcel with the overwhelmingly irrational appeal of the eat local movement. Of the many flimsy justifications buttressing the argument that urban homesteads have the right to become backyard slaughterhouses, one strikes me as particularly disingenuous: it will inspire more humane treatment of farm animals.

The logic behind this claim seems to hinge on the morally amorphous notion that if we deregulate the process of slaughtering animals, the slaughter will become more humane. The idea here is that if we love the animal we kill, then the animal will be happier about being killed. In fact, I think this way of thinking is perverse, and the underlying rhetoric plain insidious.

What actually happens when amateurs slaughter animals that they’ve lived with and (presumably) nurtured is as unintended as it is disturbing: a) we become callous to the ethics of slaughtering an animal, and thus become more and more like factory farmers; and b) the animal suffers more than it would had it been killed in a large-scale slaughterhouse, which–weird as it sounds–has become more “humane” as a result of the work of people such as Temple Grandin. [Please note: this comment is no way an endorsement of slaughterhouses; it’s just a statement of relative fact.]

I make these claims after reading blogs kept by the slaughtering homesteaders themselves. Check them out (and be warned–they made me sick):