Can of Worms

Maybe I’m about to open one. Please be kind if you feel like commenting. Both to me and anyone else. Each person’s personal food choice is just that: personal. I’m writing this as a way to hopefully open a little dialog with folks so more people can understand each other. Not berate each other.

I’ve always wondered about people who are vegetarian or vegan. I’ll make sure I say this, I understand that many folks do this for health reasons. I get that. Now, for those that convert regarding animal rights… I understand this less. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t condone most of our industrial ag practices regarding producing meat, but I eat meat. I enjoy it and my belief is that humans were built to eat meat in addition to plants. By the way, I am not seeing this as a place to discuss all cruelty regarding animals. It is out there, horrible, and I don’t agree with it in any shape or form, but I want to discuss food animals at the moment so that is where we’ll stay.

Now, what I don’t understand is that many products are made from animals and I’m curious how those who avoid animal products do this. Do you drive cars? If so, then you are using animal products in small amounts. How about that organic garden mulch? It isn’t vegan. Most of the time it has animal pieces or blood in them.. They make great fertilizer. Shoes, hair brushes, clothing, and all sorts of other products are made with animal by-products. And sometimes the alternatives to those animal by-products are not so great either. Can we say petroleum products anyone?

My thought is that if we are already going to eat meat, doesn’t it make more ecological and economic sense to use the entire animal and make it worth the killing? Here is another one for you. I don’t agree with most folks hunting practices either, because most folks are out for trophies. I don’t disagree with hunting for meat, but I believe that if you are going to kill something to feed yourself and/or your family you’d better make it worth that animal dying.

I much prefer someone to humanely raise an animal and have it killed on the property and properly butchered and use up every last bit and piece. Fats for grease and soap making, bones for handles and needles, meat for eating, hide for leather, and anything else you can think of. If you can’t personally raise or butcher the animal than know the person that is raising your food, visit the farm, visit the butcher, and understand everything about the process before jumping to conclusions. Good or bad.

Do I want to kill an animal? No. Will I? Don’t know. Do I enjoy meat? Yes. Do I know where my meat comes from? Not always but I’m trying to change this little by little. Yes, the price is higher on local and organic meats. Once you get to know the person raising your meat you’ll understand why though. Have you ever had to buy feed? Ever wonder why that dozen eggs is $4 or up when it is from a local/organic farm?

Let’s take a look at the eggs for a minute. I’ll use me as an example since I can’t speak for anyone else. I’m estimating too since I didn’t keep close track of everything.

My chickens: 3 hens were about $12 as day old chicks and I went in with someone else so shipping costs etc. were lower.

My coop: Was around $250-$300 for a kit and some wire along with paint. We didn’t feel like trying to design our own to start out with. It could have been done less expensively and it could have been done more expensively. This is just what we did.

I didn’t have to buy extra fence or gates. I lucked out and had fence and I turned pieces of my kids’ crib into a gate.

Then there is feed, oyster shell (or some other source of calcium), pine shavings for bedding, and electricity to pay for during the winter to keep water thawed and a heat lamp going.

Feed is around $12 for a 40 or 50 pound bag. And this is NOT organic feed by any means. That is much more expensive and I haven’t located any close to me. Oyster shell is around $15/50 pound bag, scratch grains are $15/bag and pine shavings are around $6/bag. So far I’m only having to buy feed and scratch about every 2 months and oyster and pine shavings are looking to be a 6 month purchase interval.

I only have three hens remember. Feed goes up a lot if you add more chickens. I am getting two eggs daily on a regular basis and sometimes three eggs, but for the first 5-6 months I was getting no eggs. If I take two eggs a day and multiply by thirty days in a month that is 60 eggs in one month. Or five dozen for a month. At $4/dozen (which is what they are going for in my area) that is $20 for an entire month’s worth of eggs. You remember the price of feed? $12/bag for layer crumbles and $15/bag for scratch. $27 dollars for feed that lasts me about 2 months so that is $14 a month in feed alone. This is not factoring in the cost of my coop, the 6 months they didn’t lay, or the electricity I’ve been using. I do believe if I factored that in I would be well over that $20/month worth of eggs.

My point is that it isn’t cheap. How are those chicken/egg farmers making any money at $4/doz.? Sell more eggs? But then they must have more chickens that eat more feed which costs you more money. Not to mention you have cartons to purchase, labels to purchase, and delivery gas in order to get your eggs to a market of some sort. In all reality that $4/doz. is exceptionally reasonable.

I’ve kind of lost track of myself here. My point is really this: If you are going to eat meats, eggs, etc. I think you should raise your own if possible and if it isn’t possible you should know who is raising your food. It isn’t always pleasant. The farm life isn’t as idyllic as the magazines make it out to be but it is necessary in some form or another. Vegetables take time, water, fertilizer of some form, and soil to grow. So even those folks that are vegetarian/vegan need to think about where their vegetables are coming from. Are your vegetables really that much better than eating meat if your vegetables are coming from some place thousands of miles away? Is it better to eat that pineapple or tomato in December that came from some place like Mexico or Southern California and had to be trucked to you? Do you know what your vegetable fields are doing to the aquifer where they are grown? If you do, great! If you don’t, maybe it is something to consider.

To me it all boils down to knowing something about your food. No matter what kind it is. Meat, vegetables, bugs, or what I don’t care what you eat. You should know how it is produced, what is in it, and how far it had to go to get there. At least learn this about a few of your foods. Pick a relatively simple one. Your lettuce, eggs, meat, or tomatoes. Almost all of these products have a location put on them in some form or another.


About littlehawkyarns

I'm a gardener that is trying to provide good food for my family to enjoy. I have two children, two dogs, a husband, four chickens, and four cats. In addition gardening I enjoy handwork such as knitting, crochet, and sewing. I'm in the process of trying to learn tatting and embroidery as well. I am soon adding more critters to the collection since we just got property and I spin yarn.
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2 Responses to Can of Worms

  1. The Editors of Garden Variety says:

    A very intriguing article full of valid points.

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