Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Where food comes from...

Recently this food related story caught my eye.

In order to teach children about the realities of food production (carrots come covered in earth, potatoes don’t grow chip shaped on trees – that sort of thing), a school in Kent set up a smallholding complete with vegetable patch and livestock.

Meat production is something that has become so sanitised and the end product so far removed from the realities of raising and killing an animal that I applaud the efforts of the head teacher in her attempts to make her pupils aware of where meat actually comes from.

It was made clear from the very beginning of the project that Marcus the sheep would be slaughtered and the meat sold off to pay for some piglets (not only are the kids learning about husbandry but also rudimentary economics. Brilliant).

As the slaughter date grew closer, a group of parents decided to launch a campaign to save Marcus. Despite support from tabloid fave Paul O’Grady, they were (rightly) unsuccessful in their attempts and the sheep met his inevitable fate a couple of days ago.

Cue outrage. The headmistress has been labelled a murderer and one parent, whose daughter, in the most delicious of ironies is called Liberty (Liberty?! Armando Ianucci couldn’t come up with a better tale), is threatening to sue the local education authority for alleged distress suffered by her daughter.

It is a sad, sad state of affairs when we have become so far removed from the realities of eating meat that some people, despite being willing to consume it, are in denial about the consequences of it.

If you eat meat then something has to have its throat cut, that is just the way it is. Well done to the headteacher for implementing this and I can only hope that more schools follow her lead. And that the only form of compensation offered is a rosemary studded leg of lamb.

19 comments:

Hopie said...

I think seeing an animal slaughtered (or does this happen not on school time?) is definitely going to be traumatizing for some kids, but it's also a part of life. It's like the first time a relative or friend dies and you go to a viewing, pretty freaky, but you can't protect kids from the fact that death is a part of life, or that when you're eating meat, it comes from an animal!

them apples said...

The stupidity of some people in this country never ceases to amaze me.

I'm willing to bet that these people, the ones so outraged by the butchering of a sheep that's led a good, contented life, are the same ones piling their supermarket trolleys with 2 for a fiver battery reared chickens.

I hope that all those outraged Facebook pressure group members are card-carrying, hemp sandal-wearing militant vegans. If they aren't, they're hypocrits.

You're right about the Daily Mail - 'shit rag' - sums it up perfectly.

Finally...'Liberty'? FFS.

racheleats said...

Poor little liberty, maybe her parents should take her to McDonalds for some chicken nuggets to make her feel better, oh no, she gone vegtarian we hear, supersize portion of chips then. Maybe she was also traumatised by the filthy dirty carrots, forget the lawyer folks therapy could be needed.

'Burn the school down. That'll learn them.'

That'll learn them what exactly..ummm

saltychickenfiend said...

This is the most outrageous, preposterous story I have ever heard, and I am absolutely HORRIFIED at this stupid, stupid, stupid article. not you, dear Alex, them!

The only way I can see this woman having even a shred of a point would be if they had slaughtered the sheep in front of the girl in question and then smeared blood all over her a la some ancient pagan ritual. I doubt very much that this happened - I suspect the sheep just "wasn't there" one morning.

I can't even type any more because I'm so angry. Ffs. You cannot keep a child in cotton wool all its life or they'll grow up to be severely deluded with regards to many, many things. Animals die so we can eat meat. Get over it, or turn vegan. Simples.

David North said...

@Hopie: I don't think the kids actually saw the animal slaughtered did they? I think that'd be taking it too far.

Thank goodness common sense prevailed anyway. I hope other schools aren't put off from implementing similar schemes.

The Italian Dish said...

Wow. I guess they must think the meat fairy just makes meat magically appear in the market.

Cheesewench said...

It's a great example of how ignorant and sue-happy sheeple really are.

Laura said...

Interesting story, and I thought these things only happen in the States. We are raising 7 chickens for the eggs and I am up for putting them into a pot when they stop laying, but other members of my family strongly disagree. We are already treating them very well, let's have them repay us with their own meat.

matt said...

WOW. I think that school did perhaps the best change in education in the last 10 years.

I totally agree. How sanitized people have become to meat production is a big crime in my book, and teaching children where food comes from is a complete necessity (if you ask me).

Parents suing the school, and starting campaigns to save the sheep? Shame on them. I personally applaud this head teacher for making a change.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Great post Alex! I agree with the teacher, she was actually TEACHING her kids something useful and practical. But I guess there are just too many that would rather live in a fantasy land.

picky cook said...

WOW! Thank you for sharing this article. It is so important to remember. I stopped eating meat a couple years ago after watching a film that showed how animals were slaughtered. Thank you for reminding me of why I made that choice.

kate the bake said...

The thing that I don't get about this story is that Lydd is a little rural village in Kent located on the edge of salt marshes where sheep are grazed and fattened prior to slaughter, centuries old tradition.
I am left thinking that this is yet another story about townies v country people, like new rural arrivees complaining about the noise of tractors on the weekend, or cockerels in the morning, Crazy!
(btw 'them apples', there is a whole post on the choice of children's names ... surely?!)

Katie said...

As a child I went to my dads farm patted the cows and sheep, gave them all little names (not like Liberty though, rofl) then went home for a nice shepherds pie or beef stew. It didnt bother me because I knew that was just the way things happened. I think that little girl is 'traumatised' because her mother has repeatedly told her how shocking and disgusting the schools actions have been, causing her to develop negative feelings about animal slaughter.

I remember being in my food tech class at school, and seeing someone throw a potato in the bin cause she dropped it on the floor making it 'dirty'. This just shows how there is a real need for kids to learn about food production.

Helen said...

What a sad, sad story. Not that the sheep died of course but the ignorance of the campaigners. Their logic is all back to front.

Angry Brit said...

Liberty? Damn hippies. I just think this is terribly sad. While I can see how the children would be upset, surely it would be better for the parents to comfort them by saying, "It's part of life." than by kicking up a fuss and involving the lawyers?

The Chickenless Chick said...

Maybe programs like this should be set up with a division a labor acknowledging differences in diet. If you're a kid who has no problem eating meat, then you should have to see where it comes from. As Katie mentioned, this is a fact of life.

That being said, I have no doubt that Them Apples is correct, and that many of these protesters are not in fact vegetarians but out-of-touch meat-eaters. not to mention the fact that this sheep sounds as if it was being raised in humane and sanitary conditions with a healthy diet. The resources spent rallying against its slaughter would have been infinitely better spent rallying against cruel, squalid, profit-mongering factory farms.

Amy said...

Wow, that is quite the story. Like Laura, I thought these things only happened in the States, but clearly not. You make so many wonderful points in this post, Alex, and kudos to the school for standing its ground. It's always shocking that people want to be shielded from how food gets to their plates, and I'll bet that these children will be thankful for the experience down the line - if not now, for that matter.

Cynthia said...

Wow. In America, I'm 99 percent sure that parents would have had to sign a waiver stating they were OK with their kids learning from this teaching method. The kids whose parents don't want them learning this way would do some other activity. I wonder if there were waivers involved at this school?

That said, I fully agree that kids should know where their food comes from. I've never witnessed a slaughtering, and the idea of watching it actually makes me queasy, but I don't want to be queasy about it, if that makes sense. It's important that I know how it's done. And I wonder if I would have been exposed to a slaughter when I was a child that maybe I wouldn't be so sensitive about watching one now. I did go to culinary school though, where I broke down whole sides of animals into portion cuts. That part didn't bother me, for some reason. Anyway, if I did have children, I would want them to understand how the food chain works, and where their burgers come from.

Katie said...

Cynthia,

I dont think the school was expecting the children to witness a slaughter, and I dont think that is necessary but the children just need to understand that when the animal is grown, it leaves the farm in a trailer and comes back in freezer bags. I never saw any animal slaughter as a child, but I knew that was what happened.