Here's how pasture-raised meat makes us slow down - and be thankful.
Living on a farm, I’m often struck by the distinction between the hyper-efficiency and convenience of our man-made lives, and the slow and deliberate pace of plant and animal life. Often, this contrast is painted in rosy terms: Slow down! Smell the roses! Stop and take a moment to breathe!
You know what, though? Sometimes stopping and smelling the roses makes things harder. Or at least that’s how it feels. After all, if they’re my roses…doesn’t that mean I have to take care of them? Feed them? Prune them? Is smelling the roses just creating more work when I’m already overwhelmed?
Whether you grow roses or not, you’ve probably experienced this. Maybe you’ve decided that you’d like to cook your own meals to be healthier – only to be overwhelmed by trying to cook after getting home from work, with kids running around and a soccer practice to get to.
Or maybe you’ve decided to grow and preserve your own food to become more self-sufficient. Ten tomato plants sounds like a great idea – until you’ve harvesting, canning, and processing on a sweltering day in August. (Don’t ask me how I know this!)
You probably have your own version of this. It’s not that any of these things are bad or misguided. But, given that we’re trying to balance them in lives that are often fast-paced and chaotic, it requires some nuance.
When I think about it, what these exhortations to slow down, or cook more, or grow your own are nudging me toward is a stance of gratitude for the gifts and abundance of the earth. They are, in fact, asking us to see what the earth produces as gifts: not as burdens, or something interfering with our more important endeavors, or something to take for granted.
It’s quite easy in our world of overabundance to do this. We take for granted that the earth’s bounty will be where we want it, when we want it, despite the season or changes in the climate. One advantage of living on a farm, of course, is that the seasons of bounty and scarcity are easier to notice.
Yet I think this is also one of the gifts of eating or raising pasture-raised food. Spending time with our animals every day helps us get to know their personalities, their quirks, and their preferences. It forces us to recognize the significance of their lives, and the gravity of what it means to take a life. By recognizing that their lives do have value, and that they should be raised in a way that demonstrates this value, we are pushed to feel gratitude for what their bounty provides for us.
This isn’t easy work. I’m writing this, in fact, to remind myself that I should be grateful. I’d love to know: how do you find ways to feel gratitude for the life and land around you?