After parking the truck with the Miles Smith Farm logo on the door, I pulled my hood over my head and dashed for the entrance to the fast-food joint, hoping not to be recognized. My preaching about buying locally raised food did not fit with my impending snack. (“Hypocrite” is such an ugly word.)
I rationalized that I wasn’t breaking last New Year’s resolution to eat only local food because, after all, I was seeking a baked potato (butter only, please), not chicken nuggets or a burger. Instead of waiting to cook at home, the convenience of it beckoned to me. Not everyone knew (or cared) about my resolution, but on the off-chance I might be recognized, I parked far from the door.
Even though my purchase avoided highly processed foods, my dollars still went into the pockets of a corporation, not the bank account of a local farmer. Some argue that owners of fast-food restaurants live in the community, so buying at one helps a local citizen. But it also supports mega-farm corporations that often ignore the welfare of animals as well as workers. Who cares if it’s “fresh, never frozen,” when the beef is from cattle that are finished in a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation)?
Fifteen years ago, not wanting to support the CAFO system, I resolved to be a vegetarian. That resolution disintegrated when I started raising cattle in 2002 and learned that they could be well-treated and processed humanely.
Also, I discovered the meat from locally raised cattle tastes best. I’m not sure why perhaps because cattle from local farms live like cows should live; free from the stress of a CAFO.
Is it better to buy highly processed meat that depends on a manufacturing plant or to seek out beef raised by a farmer that you know? Does eating “green” mean your food has to be produced in a factory? Perhaps eating green is not so much about the cow as the “how.” How the cow is raised (humanely), and how it eats (grass and hay) makes all the difference.
This year my resolutions include: read more books; watch less TV; put lead ropes away; and be more agreeable to my husband. I’m also renewing my vow to eat locally raised food. This will be the hardest to keep because baked potatoes are a favorite. So if you see my truck in a fast-food parking lot, don’t judge; we all have at least one guilty pleasure. What’s on your resolution list?
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local products. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.