Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 63: Killer Abroad


I’ve been remiss on my killing spree this past week. I’m leaving for San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on Monday to attend a writers’ conference and work on my craft. Getting the house in order, kids in line, schedules communicated, hens cared for, beer bottled, seedlings watered, and clothes laundered has eaten up my killing time. Fortunately, I have some wild freezer fare from beach combing, fishing, and clam digging. Trust me, I’m not starving.
A big consideration while travelling abroad is what to eat. It’s my Omnivore’s Dilemma International. Fortunately, Mexican staples of beans and rice and tortillas are not only wonderful, but vegan. I’ll do most of my eating out with writer friends. San Miguel is a gourmand’s paradise. I’m sure the traditional foods of Mexico combined with the local catering to ex-patriots will offer many options. Again, trust me, I won’t starve.
San Miguel has a beautiful Mercardo full of farmers’ market quality fruits, veggies, and animal proteins. I’m thrilled about the produce, especially the fresh avacados and mangos, but I don’t know these farmers, and I don’t know these animals. Small scale farming and slaughter practices are customarily more humane than the industrial animal protein market. Of course this isn’t always the case.
Industry relies on efficiency. Efficiency, or the quick and cheap manufacture of product, often leads to animal abuse. Reduced to a product, the animal loses rank as a living being. Small farms rely on the symbiotic relationship between farmer and animal, not farmer and product. A well-cared for animal lives longer, needs less health-care interventions like antibiotics, and produces better quality proteins.
I won’t be eating domestic animal proteins while abroad. I will eat wild caught fish and shellfish. I was on the fence about eggs, until I learned that Mexico is the world’s second largest producer of eggs. United States is the first. Mexico adapted the battery-cage system used by the US, and to me that means industrial efficiency trumps the well-being of the laying hens. Like the stateside hens in commercial egg production, Mexican hens are a product and not a living being.
While researching Mexican eggs and dairy practices, I learned that Mexico has almost no animal cruelty laws. I found this concerning, but just because we have laws in the U.S., doesn’t mean that abuse doesn’t run rampant. And what constitutes abuse? If you dare, check out this video captured by hidden camera at one of our nations dairies subsidized by your tax dollars. WARNING: Before you click the link, you need to ask yourself, “Do I really want to know?”

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