Dear Mother: Letters From Our Readers

Letters from our readers on food choices and consciousness, how consumers drive farming practices, seeking a scythe and cleaning your clothes.

| April/May 2007

  • Donkey
    Readers respond to “Why I Farm” (February/March 2007); one a vegan becoming a conscientious omnivore, the other an ex-stockfarmer who has become a conscientious vegetarian.
    Photo courtesy NATHAN HAM
  • Cow
    Reader Ernie Peters says our editorial “Why Grass Fed is Best” (December/January 2007) should have recognized that some farmers feel forced to use high-grain diets and feedlot confinement — and we agree.
  • Slovenian Countryside
    Reader Irena Swanson grew up on a farm in Slovenia much like this one, where she learned how to use a scythe.
  • toilet reader
    Reader Jeff Hartwig’s 2 1/2-year-old daughter looks forward to reading MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
    Photo courtesy JEFF HARTWIG
  • Lehmans Hand Washer
    Reader Michele Marlowe wrote to us about the James Hand Washer, a hand-powered washing machine.
    Photo courtesy LEHMAN’S
  • Crow
    Reader Debra Smith, a letter carrier, has a close relationship with the crows on her mail route.
    Photo courtesy TOMVEZO.COM

  • Donkey
  • Cow
  • Slovenian Countryside
  • toilet reader
  • Lehmans Hand Washer
  • Crow

Food: Choices and Consciousness

An Omnivore’s Evolution

Thanks to Bryan Welch (Why I Farm) for his moving story of farm life. I have been mostly vegan for nearly three years, primarily to eat lower on the food chain and avoid the synthetic chemicals, hormones and antibiotics found in most animal products. I also choose this lifestyle in consideration of animals’ lives, our planet’s well-being and conservation of resources.

Recently, however, I’ve begun to re-evaluate my choices for a truly sustainable, healthy and environmentally sound diet. I’m realizing that being vegan in Montana isn’t nearly as sustainable as eating meat raised in a place like Bryan’s farm. My endive and fig salad with orange-balsamic vinaigrette, nothing of which comes from anywhere near Montana, strains the environment more than meat and potatoes from right down the road.

Within the past year I’ve reintroduced the occasional meal of wild game, hunted by some friends on land within miles of my home. I’ve accepted this meat back in my diet because I know how and where the animal lived, what it ate and how it was killed.

My friends hunt with reverence and respect for the life of the animal and aim to be “one shot wonders.” They took me hunting this fall. We didn’t kill an animal that day, but I am still committed to pursuing this experience. Although I await it with a sort of existential sadness. I fantasize of someday having a modest, self-sustaining farm with a fabulous garden, a few chickens and maybe some sheep or goats for meat, milk and fiber. That would be the last step in my evolution as an omnivore. I deeply appreciate the humility and depth of connection Bryan has with his farm and animals. His respect and reverence for their lives, and his honesty about confronting the life-death transition, are inspirational and affirming. I wish all meat-eaters could face the experience of killing the animals that sustain them with as much grace as Bryan — the world would be better for it.

Rose Tocke
Helena, Montana

The Vegetarian Choice

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