A repentant carnivore looks forward to a visit from the home-kill guy

...and you must admit they are looking good 🙂

I’ve been busy this evening taking photos of the steers and gleefully posting them to Facebook. All this because Barbara wanted photos before the home-kill butcher visits on Tuesday. Because after hisd visit there will be three steers not four.

All of which, at least when I read some of my comments and replies on Facebook raises questions like: What’s a repentant carnivore doing slavering over the thought of juicy roasts and tender pastramis? Does this meat frenzy fit at all?

I think so, let’s conside where the meat will go:

  • The lion’s share (pun intended?) will go into our freezers to be enjoyed over coming months. It will have avoided the journey’s to the slaughter house and from there to the retail butcher or supermarket. Loads of carbon that won’t become dioxide.
  • Quite a bit will go to our children and friends. The same carbon dioxide savings (nearly).
  • Some will go to the church foodbank, and/or other places that will allow people on tighter budgets than us enjoy some prime beef.
  • Some will be roast or BBQed for parties.

Basically in all these cases the “food miles” will be way less than an equivalent commercial “product”. But what about the land? It could have produced veges instead of feeding beef… Well, yes and no, it can produce veges, we plan to increase the vege patch every year for a while. But before our house was built it didn’t it produced lambs, which made expensive trips to the slaughter house and then to the cities of NZ and the world… and no one would try to produce veges here commercially at 450m we are too high, too dry and too cold.

QED as part of a balanced diet home-kill beef is suitable for even a repentant carnivore.

Only, I now have to try harder to ensure that I am eating less meaty meals than I have over the last few months. Cooking to eat with others, who seem less repentant (or at least resistant to the delights of the bean), makes real repenting difficult.

5 thoughts on “A repentant carnivore looks forward to a visit from the home-kill guy”

  1. I’m an unrepentant carnivore although I like to think I am somewhat ethical about it.

    You didn’t mention anywhere that these animals had an extra six months (or whatever it was) of presumably happy life (and someone needs to eat them if we’re going to drink their mothers’ milk). Then there’s the health benefits of organic meat vs commercial. I don’t want to start a meat isn’t necessary for health debate, but assuming a limited quantity is good for you then the way you do it is the right one.

    Plus meat is tasty.

  2. I hear you re. the smaller carbon footprint from eating the beef more or less where it was killed. And I hear your slavering, too! We have recently been the grateful recipients for several pieces of ‘Claribel’ (a beef cow) as well as fish from a friend’s catch.

    However, my understanding was that the primary reason you felt you needed to repent, was that your diet was using up lots of land, meaning that poor people had to make do with much less land’s worth of food. If anything, I feel that on these grounds your home-kill beef should be eaten *even more* sparingly than that which is commercially farmed. Why? Because it’s taken even more land to grow than regular free-range beef.

    I can’t remember how big your lifestyle block is, but I bet the sheep that formerly ran on it produced more protein per hectare than your four steers do! So, supposing for argument’s sake that the land is now producing 3 times less protein than it would if commercially farmed, you need to add in two *extra* vegan meals for every beef meal you eat.

    I hope you have a big chest freezer! Otherwise, I guess you could make your local food bank even more happy than you originally intended…

    Anything else seems to be disregarding the amount of land that you have effectively taken out of food production by farming it inefficiently – land which is no longer available to feed other people as before.

  3. Hmm… lots to think about. I did not want to respond quickly, but then realised that with a heap of marking if I don’t respond now I am likely to forget to do so…

    I’m not quite sure I am convinced because:
    – I believe I read that smaller units tend to be more productive, as smaller paddocks get used more efficiently certainly the old farm has more thistles etc. (except just after they have sprayed large quantities of expensive chemicals) we weed by hand and have got most of the thistles out so only small ones are coming on leaving more room for grass (at least that’s what we are trying to achieve!
    – When the land grew sheep it did not grow potatoes, veges or fruit whereas we are growing more and more of these things.
    – It will be feeding other people, whanau, friends and the church foodbank so I am only convinced by your last point in so far as the earlier ones could be established…
    So as far I’m concerned currently I think the main impact that the change of lifestyle has on my Repentant Carnivore status is to make me more aware of where the meat comes from, rather than changing the whole “equation”…

  4. Indeed, everything that I said is contingent on you being an inefficient user of the land! I define this mostly as producing less protein per hectare, but you could also define it as producing fewer calories per hectare. I have no idea how your actual lifestyle block rates on this scale. However, while there has been little research in NZ about the productivity (in any terms) of lifestyle blocks, but what there has been does suggest that blocks smaller than 3 hectares are rarely as productive as those in larger farms. I haven’t found any info about bigger lifestyle blocks. So, while you are right that smaller blocks *can* be more productive than larger ones, but it seems that NZ lifestyle blocks often aren’t (although the data is weak). The way to make that small piece of land super-productive is to devote the same amount of effort on it that you would on a larger piece of land – doing things like mixed cropping, companion planting, chook tractors, closed loops of nutrients etc.

    I simply assumed that you were what I imagine as the ‘typical’ lifestyle block owner/farmer: spending most of your time on your city job, so unable to put in all the work it would take to make the land even as productive as before, let alone as productive as it could be. But I could well be wrong, and I expect that I will be at least ‘less right’ as time goes on and your food garden etc. gets more established and productive.

  5. I’m sure it is currently less efficient than it will be, one paddock needs recovering (it was used as a storage area before) and the orchard won’t begin cropping till next autumn (and then only a little at first). We are not using chemicals, and the vegetables are much more efficient than sheep at converting land to food (though the vege patch is also growing in future, we have started small).
    In one way our place will never be as efficient, it will always require more hours of work to produce a kilo of meat, because we don’t use lots of chemicals and fertiliser (we may need to use some fertiliser, but not on the veges, the compost heaps and chicken dung eill more than cover them and the orchard). But one tank of roundup means the commercial farmer saves many hours of work – I actually enjoy weeding the paddocks, and it is much more “efficient” than going to the gym like many people do 😉

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