I was a New Yorker, straight from Park Slope, when I met my husband, a cattle farmer in Wisconsin.
On our first date, he cooked for me. A hamburger on a plate. No vegetable, no garnish, no fork. He told me he knew I was vegetarian so he made the hamburger small.
I met him through my blog – he sent fan mail and invited me to his farm. I got a lot of dates from my blog. I had lots of dates with bankers who wooed me in planes stocked with vegetarian snacks. But I fell in love with my husband the first moment I saw him, so I ate the hamburger, in about 500 small bites.
I had diarrhea the next day. And for most of that month while I was going to the farm and eating increasingly larger pieces of meat.
The difference between farm life and city life is so pronounced that you could never understand it without living in both places. Consider how people scoff at New Yorkers eating every meal out. You don’t understand a life you have never been a part of.
There is a rhythm on a farm that makes me certain that eating animals is good for the earth. The cattle on our farm graze all day long. They are calm, they are happy, and I’m not kidding when I tell you that my husband cannot be happy if his animals are not happy.
When we were dating, my husband woke up in the middle of the night, in a thunderstorm. He said a calf was lost in the rain.
What? How do you know.
I hear the mom looking for the calf.
What are you going to do?
Go out and bring the calf to the mom. The calf might die.
I follow him to the door. I can’t believe he’s going outside. I ask, “How much money will you lose if the calf dies?”
“About $200. That’s my profit from a grown animal.”
“I’ll give you the $200 so you don’t have to go outside.”
He went out that night, and got the calf.
In the morning, he broke up with me. “You don’t understand anything but money,” he told me.
I got him back by working hard to understand agrarian life.
The animals graze the grass, they poop on the grass, they move to another section and the grass grows well because of their poop. My husband analyzes his soil constantly to make sure the grass contains the best nutrients for the cattle.
We always have a cow in our freezer in the basement. Cut up, of course. If you think cattle farmers eat steaks all the time, you don’t understand what makes meat eating ethical. We eat the whole cow. I know how to cook every single piece of the cow. The tail makes great soup.
To watch the lifecycle on a farm – mother to baby, poop to the earth, green grass to brown. If you see all that, you love the cows and the earth so much that it feels natural to be a part of it and eat the meat that comes from the process.
If you pay a lot of money for your meat, you eat meat like my husband’s. He gets the highest prices in Wisconsin and he sells direct to consumers.
If you don’t pay enough to buy ethically produced meat, then your meat eating is probably not ethical.