On Sheep Dogs, Farming, and the Ethics of Eating Meat (Video)
Image credit: The Perennial Plate
I asked before whether sheep dogs would return for post-peak oil farming, but that question presupposed that they have already gone away. The fact is that while all terrain vehicles, enclosed pens, and other methods have made the role of a working dog less common in farming, there are still farmers out there who would do it no other way.
Here we take a visit to an Oregon farm raising lambs and cows for slaughter. We learn about the role that dogs play in the operation, and we also get some important musings on the ethics of farming and eating meat.
Much like the notion of young farmers rediscovering farming with horses, this video from The Perennial Plate's ongoing nationwide tour reminds us that the future of sustainable farming may just lie in learning from the past.
It's worth noting that however pastoral and inviting these scenes may look (at least to the meat eaters among us) when compared to factory farming, no agriculture is without its environmental impact. In fact a recent study suggested that lamb has one of the highest carbon footprints of any food due, in large part, to the methane produced by ruminant animals. (Although, to complicate matters, commenter Eric Johnson noted that grazing animals also sequester carbon, which should have also been included in the equations.)
Whatever the truth about the environmental impact of eating meat, it seems hard to disagree that it would be a huge step forward if the meat we ate was sourced from farms like this one. Besides the obvious animal welfare benefits, as Magnolia Farm's Elissa Thau so clearly demonstrates, both the cost and care that is put into raising these animals makes a compelling case for eating a whole lot less of them.
We don't need to eat giant hunks of meat, and we don't need to eat meat every day (if at all). If and when we do eat meat, let's make sure it's raised right.
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