A Wednesday morning unlike any other. We began with the trek toward the UC Davis slaughterhouse, anxiety obvious in many of our faces and in our strained laughs as we descended towards what was to be an important event for many of us. For the meat eaters, a test of our conviction that eating the flesh of a once living creature is something we can deal with. For vegetarians, possible conviction that they are right to abstain from consumption of meat, but also a test to see if they can endure the death of an innocent creature. For all of us, a test of our stomachs and conviction to a greater understanding of food systems.
As we witnessed that morning, the prime goal in any industrial pig’s life is to die, hopefully in a somewhat humane manner. This focus on death, prevalent in today’s society, ignores the benefits that we can reap from an animal during life. Examples include manure for our crops (which is extremely underutilized) and permaculture ecosystems that may benefit from living creatures such as pigs and chickens.
Farming should be an inclusive activity, with animals, plants, and humans all living in community providing for each other’s needs. Our current system of segregation between the different parts of what should be a single ecosystem is wrong, and allows us to rationalize things we would never allow under normal circumstances. The industrial food system is just one of many problems caused by rampant greed, and cannot be done away with unless the underlying issue is addressed as well.