I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it very interesting that the word “easter” is derived from the Latin, estres, which means the period of reproduction in animals. Perhaps this is why Easter is about eggs and baby chicks and baby lambs and bunnies. It’s the time to get out there and plant seeds. After a cold, dark winter, new life shoots out of the ground, and baby animals are born on the farm.
Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover, or the goddess Eostre and the Vernal Equinox, we can all agree that Easter is a time to celebrate rebirth and renewal.
Get yourself a cup of coffee or tea and for the next twenty minutes or so, I want to share with you two very different worldviews when it comes to farming, and how profoundly they are impacting our planet.
First, I want you to watch this excerpt from Michael Pollan’s TED Talk. It’s a little long but stick with it. It’s really fascinating. Pollan, author of bestselling, mind-blowing books including The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
shares a bigger picture of how nature works, and how wrong it is the way we are destroying our planet with the way we’ve “modernized” farming in the past 50 years.
Next, I want to show you the way the pigs live on grass-farmer, Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia. They hang out and do their thing in the sunshine and fresh air, free to roam and dig in the dirt. You can hear insects chirping and birds signing in the background.
Not too exciting, I guess, but isn’t this the way you imagine a farm should be? Don’t those pigs look happy and healthy?
Compare that to this piece of propaganda funded by the Ohio Pork Producers Council and the Ohio Soybean Council:
Absurd, right? That is not a barn. That is a temperature-controlled windowless shed. Just think of the amount of money we spend to build these high-tech jail cells for pigs. When we could just put up some cheap electric fencing to keep the predators at bay, as Pollan described the way Joel Salatin does.
Lastly, I want to show you how most animals are treated in America’s factory farms. Don’t worry, this video is not as graphic or horrible as some I’ve seen (you can find them on YouTube). This video was produced by the Humane Society. It’s not meant to shock but to educate.
However, it does reveal an accurate picture of how animals are raised in the vast majority of farms in our country. Caged, pent up, in the dark, cut off from touch, from their families, from fresh air, sunshine, and from nature. Basically, in jail.
I think it’s painfully obvious that we all need to stop buying meat and milk from factory farms. Even factory farms masquerading as “family farms”. Technically they may be family farms but they are not sustainable, the animals are not living as animals should be allowed to live, and we are throwing tons of money at cheap meat and milk from animals pumped full of soy and corn (which is genetically modified, by the way).
The solution in the last video to drink soy milk or buy soy burgers and become a vegan is NOT sustainable or smart. I’ve written a lot about the health risks of eating soy.
Moreover, and this is important, vegetarianism will not heal the planet. Go back and watch Pollan’s speech again. He talks about how Joel Salatin and other grass farmers are healing the earth by letting nature do what nature has been doing for centuries. We need pigs to root in the dirt; we need chickens to dig up worms and larvae; and we need animals to fertilize the land with manure. Soybean crops with no animals isn’t gonna cut it, folks.
You — yes, YOU — can make a difference. This Easter, you can take part in the renaissance (or rebirth) in farming, which will not only help the animals, it will also help the farmers, and it will help the environment.
Make the decision to take a stand this Easter and be a part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.
So how do you do it? You only need to do two things.
Step 1: Reject food from factory farms. Stop buying that crappy meat from Costco or Safeway or Walmart. Refuse to spend another dollar supporting this broken, morally bankrupt, and absurd system.
For every dollar you spend at Walmart buying factory farm meat, you’re putting a chunk of change in the pockets of crooked multinational corporations including Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill. If we keep buying the food they are producing, we are creating our own demise. Do we really want this for our children and grandchildren — a world controlled by these corporations?
Step 2: Support grass farmers who practice sustainable practices. Buy real pastured eggs from farmers who keep their chickens outdoors. Buy pork, beef, and milk from animals raised on pasture.
Need help finding better sources for meat, eggs and dairy? Check out these websites:
You can also find help from your local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Trust me, these folks will know where to find real food from sustainable farms in your local area:
Weston A. Price Foundation Local Chapters
If you can’t locate local sources of food, you can buy from farms that are not local but at least you know they are treating the animals the way they should be treated. For example, I often buy Kerrygold butter at Trader Joe’s. Sure, the butter is imported from Ireland, but the cows are on pasture and eating grass — and not being fed genetically modified corn and soy in a cage.
I also highly recommend US Wellness Meats. They will ship anywhere in the country. If you’re a first-time customer, you can use my coupon code, CHEESE20 to get 20% off your order.
I hope this post influences a few people out there to make some changes this Easter. For me, holidays are a reminder that time passes and that life is sacred. But Easter is particularly important, because it symbolizes rebirth and renewal.
If you’re not already on our bandwagon, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to hop on! (Get it? Hop! Like a bunny!)
I pray that together, we can change. I pray that we can get out of the way of nature, and, rather than try to dominate it and make it bend to our will, we can let nature be. Together, we can go back to the way we used to farm this country, and we can rebuild our nation’s family farms, and rebuild the health and wellness of its citizens.
With that, I’ll close — I’m going out to my garden to spread some steer manure and plant some tomatoes!
Photo credit: Flickr