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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in farming

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Over at Patheos, Sam Webster wrote a most engaging essay on the revival of the Pagan concept of sacrifice. The article starts with the traditional and ancient concept of animal sacrifice and continues on to more symbolic sacrifices such as invocations and acts of service. Naturally, it was the part about animal sacrifice that generated the most comments, many thoughtful and appreciative, and quite a few that were angry and accusatory.

It’s not a surprise that some people have a natural revulsion to the kind of blood sacrifice practiced in the religions of the ancient world, and in some branches Paganism and Afro-revival religions. We have little exposure to death in our industrial world, and what exposure we do have is from the media ie. news, film fiction, and video games. Last week’s episode of Game of Thrones concluded with a scene of violent and dishonorable death, and more than one person I know found it deeply disturbing and unnecessary. (For the record, so did I) I’m not sure how realistically GoT portrays a feudalistic society, but the version we see on HBO is certainly nasty and brutish.

And our industrial farming practices are no less horrendous. When the idea of animal sacrifice comes up, the miserable life of such animals may be the first thing that comes to mind. A visceral repulsion to keeping animals confined, and feeding them the wrong food while keeping them from anything resembling a descent life is – in my world – healthy.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ruadhán J McElroy
    Ruadhán J McElroy says #
    Religious animal sacrifice increases the level of care. Increasing the level of care increases the level of caring. To give what w
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I can't agree with you enough, and in fact I posted on this very same issue back in December. Animals that are killed as part of t
  • Dver
    Dver says #
    Animals not under human care don’t ever die nicely. Oh thank you so much for a (sadly rare) reasonable and intelligent post on th

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The mid-west is in a drought. Crops are dying and wildfires are flaring all across the Midwest. In this post, I will focus on the loss of crops. The primary crops for the Midwest are corn and soybeans. This year, corn planting is at an all time high at 96.4 million acres. Almost none of it is sweet corn. The vast majority is commodity corn, which will become feed for pigs and cattle, be used for the production of corn by-products, or to produce ethanol. None of these uses improve human or planetary health or well-being. In addition, between 85 and 95 percent of the corn planted in the afflicted states is GMO.* Corn is – by necessity - almost always rotated with soybeans. Over 90 percent of all soybeans are GMO.

How absurd that we tear up native prairie grasses to grow corn or soybeans to feed cattle. Such grasses are far more resistant to heat and drought conditions. Their roots, extending 15 feet below the soil line, literally raise the water table. As I have written in other posts, cattle are not designed to eat grain, and it is bad for their health and ours. They are designed to eat grass. In a wet year, such grasses also improve the soil’s ability to hold water. This reduces both flooding and erosion.

Rotational strip-grazing of cattle instead of commodity cropping would necessarily change how the market works. Cattle and pigs are finished in factory farms and fed corn and soy feeds for the convenience of the processors. The deplorable conditions that these animals endure, which are problem for any Pagan for which relationship matters, are a function public demand.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    GREAT POST. We are planning our first locally-grass fed beef purchase this fall. We are sharing with a neighbor (and possibly my s
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Information is the key. Talking about it. Dispelling myths. I just finished watching "Forks Over Knives." It was astonishing to se

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