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Getting back in touch with nature - part 1

Friday, April 08, 2016

wow, so much love - you guys overwhelm me!

So I didn't manage to post anything yesterday, it was a long day and physio at the end of the day wiped me out completely! But my neck was feeling considerably better this morning, so that's a bonus!

Yesterday was a tough and also exiting day, which relates to the title of this post. To give you the full picture let me backtrack a few years and give you an overview of the thought processes that led to yesterday's events - me watching a mobile butcher kill and gut one cow and two lambs. Intrigued? Disgusted?? Please read on, I think you might find it quite interesting. Oh and a heads up, I won't be sharing any gross pictures, you are safe! :D

So. Roughly 4 years ago I somehow found out about the paleo diet, I think I had seen a book on paleo in the book shop and was in one of my many moods of "let's try something new, perhaps this will finally work for me!" (by now I believe that there is no secret diet or eating approach that will fix years of bad eating HABITS, and that in fact it's the habits that need addressing, not the specific ratios of macro nutrients etc. My personal opinion, and I will discuss this more in future)

I bought the book, studied it furiously highlighting and tagging various pages. I tried it for a while, but found it quite tough to implement without being a total pain in the butt for my friends and family, so it didn't last long. But there was one element that sparked my curiosity. In the book the author talked about differences between grass-fed (i.e. natural) meat vs. grain-fed meat and how this reflects in the ratio of omega 3 vs omega 6 fatty acids. with today's standard western diet our balance between the two is out of kilter, we are high in omega 6 and low in omega 3. I won't go into detail on why this is problematic, as otherwise this post will turn into a book, but there is lots of research out there about the negative health impact of this imbalance in the modern western diet. The book stated that animals that are eating naturally (i.e. 100% grass) have higher health-promoting omega 3 levels, whereas grain-fed beef (the majority of beef available in supermarkets) is high in omega 6. Game meat, again if it lived naturally have also higher omega 3 levels.

Armed with this information I went to my local supermarket to determine what the cows had eaten that gave rise to the beef sold in the shop. Even the most expensive beef had no indication on the packet as to what the animal had eaten. This bothered me but at the time I didn't know where to source grass-fed beef (this was in the UK). I then visited the butcher (30 mins drive in the opposite direction hence I rarely shopped there, and way more expensive) and started talking to him about where the beef is from, what the animal eats etc.

These discussions with the butcher also lead to conversations about what the different cuts of meat correspond to in the animal's body, i.e. where does rump sit on the cow? This was really fascinating to me, as I had no clue, and I also came to realise that you can't have every cut out of one beast! If you want pork chops you can't have a single piece of pork tenderloin or bacon at the same time!

Fast forward to 2 years ago, we moved to Australia and now are readily able to source 100% grass-fed beef, which makes me happy because it is natural for a cow to eat grass and it also means that the cow has been outside on pasture where it belongs (the butcher I go to also guarantees that the meat is free of hormones and growth promotants).

With our move down under, where farming is still more common-place than in Europe, I developed a desire to know the whole process, from paddock to plate. I developed my own motto: "If you are prepared to eat meat, you should be prepared to at least watch someone kill, slaughter and butcher it, if not do it all yourself." I have had some strong reactions to this, and in the past I have apologetically said to those people that this motto is just for me and I don't expect everyone else to agree and live by it. Yesterday changed my mind on that matter.

So, I started small. I gutted a fish. Then, when we got given 3 hens and 8 roosters, I told my husband I would do everything, except for the killing. He would have to kill them and then I would pluck, gut and cook the chickens, which I did. I can't face killing an animal, not even a mouse that has wrecked havoc in my pantry and cost me $100! I have also seldom watched someone kill an animal, certainly never one that I have fed and formed a bond with!

So yesterday a friend was slaughtering a cow and a couple of lambs and invited me to come and experience it as I had shared my desire with him. I wasn't going to graduate to slaughtering lambs myself without first experiencing it first hand! It was rough. I didn't like it, but I stayed and watched. The hardest part for me was seeing the dead animal with its eyes open. once the head was off and the guts out it was a lot easier to stomach, and in fact anatomically fascinating! (I am a scientist, hence the excitement ;) ).

I am glad I did this and will be back there next week once the carcass has hung and is ready to be cut up into the cuts we all know from the shops. It has changed the way I look at meat when I buy, cook and eat it (this change already started when we did our own chickens 2 years ago and again a few weeks ago). I have more respect for my food, and a sense of gratitude to the animal, that it (unwillingly..) gave its life to feed me. It has made me eat less meat. It has made me less wasteful - especially when we do our chickens, I don't waste a thing, I make chicken stock with the carcass and giblets and whenever I ruin the giblets by destroying the gallbladder (makes it inedible) I get really annoyed with myself. I hated seeing the liver, tongue, cheeks etc getting wasted on that cow, but wasn't prepared (no cool bag to take it home or anything like that).

I now believe that everyone who eats meat should be prepared to watch the animal die and be processed. It is being sacrificed to feed you. I believe this, amongst other things I will discuss in future posts, should be taught at school, and one day, when I have kids, I will teach them, and their friends.

Money is standing in our way, between nature and us. Because we buy our food with money we are disconnected from nature, the seasons and the cycle of life. But we have the power to change that and reconnect with nature if we choose to. Once you ask for knowledge you will be surprised by how happy people are to share their knowledge with you, especially if you are honest about not knowing anything (if you pretend to know you set yourself up for trouble and disappointment in my opinion).

So, I hope I haven't offended anyone too badly, but if I have, I'm not going to worry about it. This is my opinion and I feel very passionate about it, and if you can't accept it you don't have to come back. For the rest of you, I hope this has been interesting and perhaps even eye-opening to read. I would love to know what you think! :)

Hope you have a great day!
Remember, life happens in the now, not the future, nor the past.

water: 1.25 L
self-love: coffee at my turkish friend's shop :D and finally fulfilling my motto as described above with respects to larger animals (beef and lamb)
meditation: viparita korani with an attempt at krama breath (yogic breathing technique)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I don't think I could watch a mammal being slaughtered. I can do fish and when I go fishing, I clean my own. I could probably watch a chicken being killed. Maybe I should just eat fish and chicken for my meat. You've gotten me thinking about that.
    1664 days ago
  • ARAZA30
    No offense taken here. That's awesome
    1664 days ago
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