Meat and the Apple

Our first attempt at homemade sausagesMike started deer-hunting regularly with his dad in the fall of 2004 (2005?). If I remember correctly, during that first year, he killed a spike-buck, and during the second year, he killed a doe and then a buck that were running together.

At some point, Mike’s yearly accounts of killing, gutting, and processing deer converged with our deliberation on the nature of wealth and our studies of the ancient world. I myself had never killed an animal and prepared it for food. I had no connection with such a familiar human experience.

I was standing in the kitchen—either prepping dinner or washing dishes, I can’t remember—and thinking about waiting for a deer to take its last breath. I had no idea how I would feel in that moment. It struck me as a very odd realization, not so much that I did not know what it was like to kill an animal for food, but that I could possibly live an existence where I could consume so much meat and have absolutely no idea what it meant for an animal to be void of life to serve that purpose.

My routine of consuming meat was devoid of any connection with life. When I went to the grocery store, the one-pound serving on a Styrofoam tray hardly evoked any association to the animal that had been killed for my benefit. I had no reaction, no awareness of its breath or warmth or blinking eyes. Buying meat was no different than buying a glossy, red apple. It was simply another processed food—pink, shiny, and clean.

Additionally, by this point, around two years had passed since I’d met Susan and her family. While they no longer lived next door, I had not stopped reflecting on the ultra-wealthy economic standing of Americans in the world, past and present, even for those in the lower income brackets, where Mike and I found ourselves. It struck me that our routine of eating meat every day was just another indication of how deeply we took that wealth for granted; it seems that only the most privileged people have had access to eating meat every day as the center of every meal.

In our detachment from producing food and our cultural habit of eating meat on a daily basis, I was seeing a stark discontinuity with the most common experiences in human existence. As we have continued to become more critical of 21st Century American assumptions about life, we have recognized the problematic nature of our cultural disconnection with obtaining and preparing food. Our decision to eat less meat became one practical expression where our shifts in thinking began to converge. And I will save that discussion for my next entry.


4 thoughts on “Meat and the Apple

  1. I am reminded of a scene in the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” so thank you for that laugh. Have you seen that movie? Anyways, pink meat??? Doesn’t that mean it is on the verge of going bad? Don’t you want red meat? LOL Just kidding sister. Good post. BTW, I will continue to eat meat as often as possible, as I have not seen the same light as you and to make up for your lack of consumption. =D

    • Thanks for commenting, bro… sorry it has taken so long to respond. I don’t think I remember that reference, but then again, I don’t think I’ve seen that movie in its entirety. 🙂 We have definitely seen that our perspective is different than a lot of people we know, and hopefully we’ve been gracious about the topic as we try to respect how other people live as well. I guess the important thing is to think about it and to consider how we live and why, not least of all for the sake of our children and their futures. Thanks again for posting!

  2. After eating bacon from a pig raised on a local farm, that was allowed to forage, and not fed antibiotics, or kept penned up I don’t think I can buy meat from a grocery store ever again. The two are not comparable. Our meat consumption is way down now that we know what well raised meat should taste like. Our hope (plan, dream, goal) is to be on our own homestead within 2 years. A year to save for the land and another to build a cob home we can live in. We have found a piece of land we want to look at just 10 miles from our split level ranch. The farm we bought the bacon from we has offered to have us up for a pig slaughter (done with a .22) so we can see first hand how to do it. That will be a big moment for me, 2 years ago I never thought I’d be able to take an animal’s life unless my life or the lives of my children depended on it.

    • Jen,

      I know what you mean about what meat should taste like! It is amazing how much character fruits and veggies and meat can have when they are allowed to grow and be provided for how they should. We talk about it a lot with eggs because there is no comparison between massively produced eggs and eggs from chickens that are able to enjoy foraging for bugs and other things. (That reminds me of “Homesteading for the 21st Century,” which you may be familiar with; if not, I would HIGHLY recommend it!)

      I also know what you mean about the idea of slaughtering. I am planning to hunt for the first time this year, and although I’ve never been against it, it is something I did not see myself doing ten years ago.

      Keep me updated on the house and homestead process! It is exciting, although sometimes so challenging (the restlessness and yearning) all at the same time.


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