June 20, 2010

What a study in contrasts this morning, as I got comfortable on my porch with a cup of coffee and the Sunday Paper.

There, “below the fold” on the first page of the first section was an article on the ultimate Experiential Event showcasing the latest trend of the local food movement – killing and processing your own meat.

From the Callister Farms in West Concord holding processing classes to the U of M Extension services plans to design a poultry-processing class in the future, we learned about this growing movement.

I’m old enough to vaguely remember the tail end of that way of life in the 1950s, of picking eggs in a tiny coop at Great Grandma’s in Chetek, and our childish complaints about a missed feather or hair in the roast chicken offset by the good tastes of food served by my mother that simply cannot be replicated today – even though we all have her recipes to go by.

And I also remember a more traumatic experience as a little one- visiting the Kranz farm and watching a cow being led by the tractor into the barn, hoisted up and the start of the butchering process accompanied by bellowing moos and a lot of blood.

Fortunately, it took me a long time to associate that experience with the arrival of a new supply of meat wrapped neatly in butcher paper and deposited into our old ice cream freezer to supplement the few remaining soup bones and hamburger still residing there. That meant we’d probably have steak for supper instead of a soup or stew or some other dish filled with vegetables we didn’t like or other unrecognizable and therefore “suspicious” things. I am sure, from my mother’s perspective, it was also a happy experience as she would be spared the whining “oh ick, what is this? I’m not eating it” discussions that often frequented our dinner table conversations!

The article continued as it discussed the difficulty of witnessing the butchering in the classes- quoting Lori Callister that the process, especially the kill, is never easy but it has to be done, so they try to do it as humanely as possible.

And then right there on page three of the same first section of the Strib was a story about a booming pet craze in China which caters to wealthy Chinese: Pet Spas that use dye and special hair cuts to turn dogs into turtle-dogs, zebra-dogs, Spider Man-dogs, tiger-dogs, and even an Old English Sheepdog dyed to look like a panda bear!

A whole industry is sprouting that panders to people who love to show off their dogs and draw attention to themselves.

Although that article included veterinarian comments asking owners to be careful of damaging the dog’s mental and physical well-being as “some dogs are not used to being in the spotlight so may react negatively to the sudden attention” -there was no discussion of how to do this humanely.

It’s easy for me to pick which of these trends is acceptable in my personal world. How about you?

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