Monday, May 21, 2012

Knowing Our Food

At this little place here, we know our food pretty well.  I'm not just talking about the knowledge and skills to take something from the grocery store, combine it with other items from the grocery store, apply heat, and then serve on the breakfast or dinner table.  No, I'm talking about a deeper sense of knowing.

We know the chicken that is served for dinner.  We know what it looked like when it arrived at this little place here, a peeping  little fuzzball.  We know what it looked like as it grew feathers, as it gained height and weight and breadth.  We know what it ate during the process: non-medicated feed from the local farm supply, as well as a good quantity of grass and clover from weeks it spent on pasture, any bugs or worms it caught, and table scraps or garden produce that got a bit over ripe (chickens happen to love zucchini the size of baseball bats.  Good thing.).

Currently we have twelve Freedom Ranger chicks shacked up in the dog cage in our garage.  They are two weeks old and still need the heat lamp while their feathers grow in.  In another week or so, they should be fully feathered and ready to go out on pasture for the remaining month or six weeks of their lives.

July and August's Barbecued chicken ;0)

We know the main entree to be served at DD1's graduation open house in slightly less than three weeks.  "Open House" was born at Mother-in-Law's place in January, one of sixteen piglets.  She spent the early months of her life in the barn with her mother and siblings.  Then her mother was removed, and butchered (she was an old sow).  The sow now resides in several freezers belonging to members of DH's family.  Meanwhile, "Open House" cavorts happily in the pig pen with five of her siblings, the rest having been sold off to 4-H'ers looking for their summer Fair projects.  She enjoys sunshine, fresh air, and all the slop and pig feed she can eat.  She'll be weighing in at about two hundred pounds when she is harvested for roasting and serving at DD1's party.

"Open House"

We know the vast majority of the red meat in our diet.  They live in the woods and the fields of our neighborhood.  We co-exist; they eat some of our pasture, our garden, our trees.  In the fall, we harvest a few of them, and in turn we eat them for most of the year.  Free range food at it's finest.

free range red meat

We know the turkey that will be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal in November.  We fed him.  We talked turkey to him.  We enjoyed watching him grow and strut.  We felt a deep appreciation for his existence.  Thanksgiving is not just a day of gluttony and football.  Thanksgiving is being thankful for the things that define and sustain your life.

"Big Tom"

A lot of people ask how we can eat an animal we have raised.  An animal we have known.  An animal we have watched grow, and then watched die.

Our question to them is how can we not?  How could we possibly eat meat from an animal we didn't know--didn't know how it lived, didn't know what it ate, didn't know if it was healthy or not at the time of it's death.  Knowing our food is much better than eating blindly.  Ignorance is not always bliss.  Or should I say, bliss is not being ignorant of your food.  Bliss is knowing your food, knowing that it is safe and healthy, and that your food enjoyed the time it was alive.

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