Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is Small-Scale Slaughter Better?

In Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer documents the decline of small-scale slaughterhouses, focusing (if I recall correctly) on a facility in Missouri. I was surprised, then, to find a not insignificant listing of slaughterhouses and processing facilities in Kentucky, most of which look small scale. (Caveats: the directory is a bit old, and I'm guessing some of the facilities that don't list their "weekly capacity" are big.) Eat Wild lists several Kentucky farms which use local processing facilities. Of course, this isn't what you get in the store, and it turns out that even "Kentucky Proud" meats aren't necessarily processed locally. However, the Lone Tree Cattle Co., which supplies the Better Beef store in Berea, does claim to use local slaughterhouses. Of course, "smaller operation" does not entail "more humane slaughter," but if it's true that industrial processing facilities are slaughtering up to 400 cows per hour (how is that possible?!), I'm willing to bet that the animals who take their last steps into the small-scale slaughterhouse get a bit more undivided attention (before being divided).

I haven't eaten a terrestrial animal in about a year--that is, I still eat fish and shrimp once or twice about every (roughly) two weeks, but no beef, pork, chicken, etc. I know that the seafood we get is probably unsustainable, and so I've been thinking that if I am going to eat some meat, I'd be better off with better beef. (There's also a local fruit and vegetable vendor in Richmond which, I've been told, sells local chickens, but I'm not a big fan of chicken anyways.) I've been thinking, however, about why I don't get off my duff and head down to Berea. Eating meat just isn't a priority anymore. (I guess in the back of my head I'm worried about setting myself on a slippery slope: if I eat a grass-fed better beef burger, will I be more inclined to get a cheeseburger at McDonald's one night on the road?)

Perhaps equally pressing--from something like the perspective of consistency--is the amount of milk my family consumes, and the ugly truth about "industrial" milk (even if the cows are hormone-free). I just found some information about Real Milk, so I guess I'd better go explore.

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