Not according to recent accusations by animal rights activists. After all, how can you possibly eat an animal if you love animals? Wouldn’t that make you a hypocrite, according to messaging by groups such as the Humane Society of the United States?
These messages would have fallen on deaf ears when the majority of our country was involved in food production. However, today 98.5% of the population is not on a farm or ranch – which means people are not exposed to the birth, care and death of animals that provide their food. They don’t see how modern day technology helps animals, such as keeping hogs cool in the intense heat – nor do people see the families involved with caring for those animals.
That doesn’t make it right or wrong – it’s just reality. Generations removed from the farm means we no longer have conversation that animals die for us to eat. Somehow, we need to get back to understanding that farmers raise animals for food – animals that are very different than Fido or Fluffy. Those farm animals take things we can’t eat or drink and convert them to life sustenance.Those of us in agriculture need to learn to better communicate that we are grateful for the sacrifice that farm animals pay so that we can eat. Not just to feed people in cities, but our families, too.
Frankly, most people probably don’t think about it until they’re given a guilt trip or shown shocking videos about farms and ranches. Most probably don’t consider the national security provided by our food supply. And, they probably just want to eat and enjoy their food – the same as our family, who, by the way, is mourning the loss of one our cats “Cutie” – mostly likely due to a coyote. I’m not happy about it, but I accept it as reality. And I don’t believe that makes me any less of a Christian.
It’s called the circle of life. I’m O.K. with drawing a line between our cat and the pork barbecue we had for dinner last night; different species serve different purposes. Farmers and ranchers have deep respect for the animals they care for. And – even more importantly – we take the sacred trust consumers have in us to deliver a safe food supply very seriously.
Last week, Dr. Wes Jamison of West Palm Beach University helped me remember the importance of empowering consumers to feel good about food choices. Eating as you choose – not as food bigots direct you to – is not a sin. As Jamison says “Your dog is not a cow.” He encourages people to say-“I love meat.” If you do, please help people understand that it’s just fine to enjoy meat and have a dog curled up at your feet.