The Story Behind the Food on Your Plate

Wild boar was hit by a car and is now laying dead by the road.

Don’t be fooled by the smile you see in this picture. I was quite sad to see this wild boar killed. The only reason why I’m smiling is because my friend made a joke just before snapping the picture to cheer me up. I didn’t kill it. Apparently some car did and I pulled over to see if it could be revived.

It was my first time seeing a wild boar. My hair brush is made from wild boar bristles. I’ve eaten wild boar sausage, wild boar legs, and wild boar everything. Yet I’ve never actually seen a wild boar. It’s interesting how, for many of us, our modern world enables us to consume things without ever seeing or thinking about the source.

Just last month I had pasta topped with wild boar at a fancy Italian restaurant. It was delicious and that was the only thought that went through my head – that it was delicious. I was only focused on consuming the end product and didn’t once think about the source or origin. This Italian spiced bite of food resting on my fork used to be a real living animal. How did it end up on my plate? What is it’s story? It had a mother that loved and cared for it. It may have even had children of it’s own. Where did it live? Was it truly wild or was it commercially raised? If so, was it allowed to at least roam on a large open pasture or was it kept in a pen? What was it fed? Was it sick? Was it injected with hormones or antibiotics? How was it killed? How was it processed? These are all things we rarely, if ever, think about because we’re shielded.

I think a part of us likes to be blind. Sometimes it’s inconvenient to know the truth. Would I still enjoy my favorite Mexican restaurant down the street if I knew the full story of the cow that’s in my crispy taco? Probably not. This is because the chances of that story being a positive one is quite rare. Ethical treatment of animals is unfortunately still an exception to the norm. I’d like to see this change.

Of course there is the option of simply not eating animals. I eat meat but I have gone years of my life being vegan. I still eat very little compared to the average American and I often go weeks without it. I do think most people need to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat but I don’t think everyone needs to eliminate meat entirely if they don’t feel compelled. I think a healthy balance can be achieved for humans, for the environment, and for animals.

We need to remove the blinders and demand better labeling of our food at the grocery stores AND on restaurant menus. When restaurants are forced to truthfully label the source and history of the food on their menu, more positive stories will be created. They won’t want to say “the beef you’re eating comes from a cow that was kept in a disease infested cage it’s entire life and is loaded with growth hormones and antibiotics”. With better labeling on restaurant menus, I can eat my crispy taco knowing I’m supporting a local farm that practices sustainable and ethical treatment of animals.

When you go grocery shopping this week, check the labels! Buy local, organic, grass fed, and free range. Better yet, visit your local farmer’s market. Chat with the farmers. Get to know the people who grow your food. Ask to visit their farm. Getting to know the source of your food can be fun, positive, and a great way to connect with your community.

Nom & Happiness,

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