Many of you will look at this post and think, “Aw, how cute!” That is the natural instinct when one sees a bunny. They are fluffy and sweet. Generally, they are gentle and quiet. If you are a gardener, you may be thinking, “What a pest!” or “Great fertilizer.” But, as fellow blogger Annette of Sustainable Eats writes: Bunnies are Fluffy and So Much More.
Some of you will read this post and decide not to come back. That is because Fiona is the first step in my venture towards meat independence and another step towards more sustainable food. I started by shopping at the Farmers’ Market. I joined a CSA. I got chickens and planted a garden. I ordered, paid for and received half a hog from my friend Joan at Olds Farm and signed up for a raw goat milk share. (Mr. Hippie isn’t ready to let me get a goat. Yet.) I make yogurt, cheese and bread. All these things help reduce my carbon footprint and my food miles. They increase my self-sufficiency and make me feel better about where my food is coming from.
I have a friend who is a vegetarian because she doesn’t feel right eating meat if she can’t kill it herself. She should feel that way. We all should. We come from a long line of hunter-gatherers. We are designed to hunt and kill our own meat. Somewhere down the line agriculture was developed. This was a good thing. It provided food security and allowed us to settle down and form commmunities. Homo Sapiens has been very succesful. We are intelligent and learn fairly quickly how to do things as efficiently as possible. We learned to work together and trade with our neighbors for the things we didn’t have. All these innovations have made life easier although I wouldn’t argue that it is simpler. Most of us never kill an animal for food. Some of us, mostly children, don’t realize that a hamburger was once a living, breathing entity. There is such a disconnect between us and our food that we don’t have to think about the unpleasantry of actually killing the animal that provides sustenance. We even have different names for slaughtered animals than we do for livestock. Pigs are pork, cows are beef. Even deer become venison.
This post is not a rant about the ugliness of industrial agriculture or the wrongs of factory farms. This is not a post to try and convince you that you should raise your own rabbits or chickens. I know that not everyone can or will do that. This post is about me making a conscious choice to know where my food comes from. When three of our four chickens turned out to be roosters, I needed to make a decision. I could find them foster homes or I could eat them. Like my vegetarian friend that won’t eat meat because she can’t kill it, I knew that if I couldn’t eat those roos, I had no point eating chicken at all. How can I justify walking into a grocery store to buy a plucked, cleaned chicken and eat it when I can’t eat my own? I’ll admit that I didn’t personally slaughter those chickens. I wasn’t ready yet but it was a first step which brought me closer to where I am now.
Bunnies are fluffy and cute but throughout history they have been prized as a source of meat. According to David Taylor in his Rabbit Handbook, “By medieval times, rabbits were much valued for their meat, skin and fur. . . . A fine buck rabbit fetched as high a price as a suckling pig.” I buy rabbit meat from the Farmers’ Market. I know where it came from and that it was treated well. I also know that it is lean, high in protein and very “green”. Rabbits are very efficient converters of plant material to meat so they put very little strain on our already stressed out food system. But, rabbit meat is fairly expensive to buy. It is often considered a gourmet or specialty meat so it demands a high market price. I can raise my own rabbits for a relatively small investment.
Fiona is a Palomino rabbit, a variety recommended for meat production. Fiona will probably never be eaten but she is breeding stock for future rabbit meat. Fiona is not old enough yet to sart breeding so this venture is on hold until then, but the foundation is in place. Until then, I do have another source of fertilizer for my ever-expanding garden. We went to the fair yesterday and picked out a young buck. Nibbler is a “mutt” but has nice coloring, a good shape and will grow to a good size for a meat rabbit. We’ll pick him up on Sunday, so you can meet him soon.
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop. Hop on over and check out what everyone is doing.