Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Farm System

Claire's been reading propaganda lately. Or, more accurately, we've been reading it to her: Animals living happily on the farm, lovingly tucking their babies into bed, greeting each other with moo’s and baa’s, rolling in the mud or frolicking in the meadow. This pastoral vision has past. Corporate farming has squashed it.

But I’m conflicted. Do I really want to Claire to know the real picture? Like most people, I cringe  thinking about the realities of farming myself. Plus, there's plenty of time for Claire to learn about the cold, harsh world. The book with the truth would be sure to rip the rose colored glasses off at such a tender age: Page one, “Oh look, Claire, the hens are fighting, because they live on top of each other." Page two, “Here their beaks are being sliced off, so they don’t kill each other.” Page three would show dark boxes enclosing baby calves their entire short life; “We call them ‘veal’, Claire, so we don’t have to think about eating babies." The book would be long.

I don’t want to be holier than thou, either. I have my own set of blinders on. I’m blissfully oblivious to which of my clothes were made by little hands in third world sweatshops. Obviously, my sensitivity to this particular issue is influenced by my own vegetarianism. I don’t want to force my belief system on my daughter. She should be able to make her own decisions. I do plan on educating her about why sugar is for special occasions and why she should eat her vegetables. But these issues just seem a lot more straightforward. The truth about the dark side of corporate farming is a lot harder to swallow. That doesn’t make it any less true.

Photo Source: Dave, Rip the Skull, Flickr

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