Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Sourcing Meat" From the Backyard

Below is a little story my college roommate Deepani wrote to me for my birthday. She lives in Tanzania, and writes evocatively about her first experience "sourcing" her own meat. Enjoy! 

Kim and Deepani

The first story I have is about our little farm that lives in the backyard garden. It's getting harder and harder to keep track now, but I think we have something like 2 hens, 3 cockerels, 6 ducks, 3 ducklings, a dog called Kim, and a cat called Mini. After many weeks of confident talking but with little action, a couple of weekends ago, Gary and I screwed up the nerve and sourced our own meat from our own backyard, all by ourselves. In more graphic terms, we caught, slaughtered, plucked, butchered, cooked, and ate a duck from our backyard flock. As meat eaters, we thought that it appropriate the we should involve ourselves in the process of what it means for an animal to become the food that we eat, and as caretakers of a flock of fowl, we finally had the chance. Still, it ranks among one of the most difficult things we've ever done together. Using only a sharp knife puts you very close to the deed, and in fact, it was rather an emotional act, and Gary wasn't able to hold back tears as he cut the throat. It was raining at the time, and I remember feeling the mixture of cool rain and warm blood on my hands.

After, we plucked all the feathers off the bird, which is a much more painstaking process than I realized, and once that was done, I had to stick my arm inside to remove the entrails. It was amazing seeing how small the parts are that keep a being alive.

By the time I cooked the duck the next evening, it was almost--but not quite--easy to forget that it had been a living creature the day before, because by then, it looked exactly like what you can get from a supermarket--a whole duck, covered only by its own skin.

Eating it was a kind of celebration: here is food that gives us life, though we took a life in order to eat. One of us mentioned what slaughtering a cow for beef would look like, done this same way, by ourselves, and we sat there in awed silence thinking of the sheer immensity of such an undertaking with our own hands. How could we possibly! And yet, people do it, every single day. And we, we eat these creature every single day too.

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