From Farm to Table: The Sacrifice of Eating Meat


I recently saw a sticker posted on a stop sign with the words “eating meat.” I wanted to add, “factory farmed,” to it. That would at least make it more truthful to me. The past few years have been a journey on making the transition to eating farm to table, of attempting to comprehend the ins and outs of our food system. I have reached the conclusion that eating meat isn’t necessarily bad. It is the unethical practices and quantity consumed that should be drastically changed. Often as it goes, theory to application is not instantaneous, but a process. When I reached the point of declarative change, I needed a place to begin that wasn’t cold turkey.

Raising Your Own Meat: Where to Begin

My starting point was purchasing organic meat from the grocery store even though the cost wasn’t affordable. Sometimes less is more, and in this case, the sacrifice for less meat was worth the cost. Shortly after, I discovered a cheaper alternative with Zaycon Foods. Zaycon is a privately owned meat distributing company based out of Spokane, Washington, which is 4 hours from where I live. Their focus is to provide meat without added hormones, additives, or artificial ingredients directly to consumers, fresh from the farm or processor. Zaycon hosts events in different locations throughout the state, highlighting certain products, such as chicken, pork, beef, or fish in 40-lb cases. Customers buy in advance, and then meet a delivery truck at a specific time, date, and location. This seemed to be a sustainable model, and was a good solution for a while. The price was a bargain, the direct delivery and freshness ensured quality, but I started wondering where the meat was actually coming from—more specifically, which local farms were being used. Looking into it, I found that Zaycon uses the best of the larger farms, and takes precaution with ethical practices, but is unable to support smaller or organic farms due to growing demands. Warning—the rabbit hole gets deep on these issues. Be careful what you look for. Although Zaycon had become a better solution, it still didn’t seem to be the best.

A Better Solution

In June 2013, I had the incredible opportunity to watch Joel Salatin and David Schafer demonstrate how to process poultry at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Puyallup, Wash. Watching the sacrifice from life to death was a humbling experience. At that moment, I more clearly understood the cost of eating meat, the exchange of life to fuel mine. Internally I changed. Even though not all decisions after that point fully reflected those deep convictions, I could no longer be ignorant to the true cost.

The goal transitioned to hunting, fishing, or raising our own meat. Hunting didn’t pan out and fishing was only marginally successful. The last step was a journey in raising our own meat. In May we bought four bummer wethers.

2/23/2018 12:50:23 PM

There would be considerably less meat eaten in this world if the eater was required to kill the animals that provide it, especially if those animals were ones with which the eater had raised. This piece very nicely summarizes the trials and ( dare we say squeamishness?) that accompanies paying the cost of being a meat eater. Thanks for a job well done.

2/22/2018 1:04:47 PM

Thank you for sharing your experience, and your statements about the moral side of eating meat.

2/22/2018 1:04:46 PM

Thank you for writing this piece. You are correct when you say that eating meat is a moral issue. I am inclined to side with my vegan daughter's perspective. But, I am also an omnivore and a meat eater. I appreciate your comments on buying the more expensive, sustainable meat products. Again, thank you.

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