Farmer respect and eating meat

I generally respect farmers (most deserve it, some don’t), but I am gradually eating less and less meat due to lifestyle changes (and a slowing metabolism, meaning greater dietary care is required). Cost of meat is also a significant factor.

Some interesting comments at Reddit: Kiwi Farmers feel that they are not respected as sustainability concerns lead to the average Kiwi eating 20kg less meat

I don’t think it’s sustainability that is causing the average New Zealander to eat less meat but cost, I’m also consuming far less dairy than I once did, and I’m eating more eggs.

I’m not eating more eggs either , even though I run a few chooks (and sheep).

Even if the reason is the sustainability, why should that offend the farmers? I value their well-offness less than I value the state of the environment in terms of atmospheric methane and waterway eutriphication. Why does that make me the bad guy, those are pretty decent reasons to disagree with someone’s business practices.

It’s not people making personal eating choices that farmers find offensive – most farm production is exported anyway. But farmers have been increasingly targeted and criticised by some on environmental matters. Farm pollution has become a dirty issue, as well as methane emissions.

It’s the same for me as well. As a student, it’s getting a bit harder to have a proper diet with rising food costs.

The only dairy I normally have is milk in my coffee and as for meat, I buy the cheapest cuts I can as I’ve got a pressure cooker which means that it can be cost effective.

I have noticed that I’m eating more chicken than I used to as well.

Because chicken is relatively cheap (as well as cheep). Beef and lamb/mutton in particular have become very expensive.

A farmer’s view:

Im not offended if you dont buy ruminant products. I stopped eating red meat because it was by far and away the most effective measure i could undertake to reduce my ecological footprint. I think what dick and di are referring to in this article is more in regard to the interactions that we have with people outside of purely transactional contexts.

Ive had people spit at me, curse me, i had a gp that spent my entire appointment telling me how morally degenerate i am for being a farmer. These are extreme examples of course, and i dont hold these peoples passion for an incredibly important topic against them, but for most of my friends they find themselves being made pariahs simply for being born into a particular passion in life.

We arent saints when it comes to our reaction to the attitude of others, very few are, but that shouldnt preclude the extension of empathy and understanding beyond the simplistic and all too common characterisation of us as motivated solely by greed.

Empathy from all people is the most necessary development in our discussion about the environment. When even mike joy reiterates that the situation we face is not the fault of farmers then shouldnt that tell us something. I have taken responsibility for my actions and the attitudes of my friends and colleagues.

You will not break through to farmers until you vehemently disavow the small minded and ill informed commentary made by the vocal minority.

The vocal minority are unlikely to change their activism.

And taste. Lamb tastes like shit, now that i’m out of home i don’t have to deal with eating a shitty Sunday roast every week because of tradition. I might cook a stir fry but that’s about it for meat.

Maybe that’s a personal thing rather than a change, but it could also be how the product is handled – possibly packed too quickly.

Lamb has always had not a lot of taste. Hogget and whether is better, but it needs to be hung properly before using or freezing. In the summer I hang sheep for  3-4 days depending on the weather, and up to 6 days in the winter. Aged meat is tastier. We had a delicious Sunday roast yesterday.

I think the article is a little misleading.

The reason lamb consumption has fallen through the floor is because the vast majority of them converted their farms over into Dairy farms for higher returns (and increased ‘dirty dairying’). The lamb that was left went into overseas exports, and we are paying far more domestically for lamb. THAT’s the reason why our lamb consumption has fallen off.

We’re actually eating MORE chicken than we used to.

Both of those factors can be explained by price. Chicken is cheaper, lamb is hella expensive. And beef is somewhere in the middle.

Speaking personally, we buy a cattlebeast a year, which works out at about $5.50/kg. If we have to buy beef at $15/kg at the supermarket you bet we’d be eating far less meat. It’s just too expensive.

I think the reason people are less ‘respectful’ of farmers has several reasons:

  • It’s no longer the backbone of our economy, tourism is bigger
  • All of the ‘dirty dairying’ and other farming polluting stories suck, and directly undermine our Tourism industry, which is more important.
  • When times are good, farmers are millionaries and did it all themselves
  • When times are bad, they need government bailouts, everyone needs to club together behind them
  • NZ was in a unique position as post WW2 Europe recovered. Wanting to ‘go back’ to farming smacks of trying to turn back the clock to an era that can’t possibly exist in the current world climate.
  • Producing commodities for export is a very poor way of growing wealth. That’s what the developed countries want the third world countries to do.

A response to that:

Yes. I think a lot of people have grown a little tired of farmers telling others to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, knuckle down and work hard instead of expecting welfare but then immediately having their hands out when the going gets tough.

Complaining that they can’t get good workers when they are not prepared to pay an acceptable rate for hard physical labour with sometimes awful working conditions and poor job security.

I do realise not all farmers are like this but it definitely seems to be the prevailing mentality. As a sector of society these types are extremely loud on social media and people often form their opinions around farmers based on what they see/hear them saying, rightly or wrongly.

Bleating about how city folk have no idea about hard work is divisive and does nothing to help their cause. They definitely have a public image problem.

The main problem here doesn’t seem to be farmers or anti-farmers, but more the amplification of attacks and bleating online.

I also think the article is misleading, but disagree on the reason why farmers aren’t respected; I’d say it’s the media coverage they get.

 

The media does a pretty poor job of dealing with nuanced issues, preferring to have a sensational (positive or negative) spin on everything. Rightly or wrongly, farmers are on the receiving end of negative attention. I’m not suggesting the criticism is baseless, but that it isn’t balanced when compared to treatment of favoured topics.

Media does play a part in amplifying the negatives and the bleating from any side of an argument.

Simple economics:

  • Chicken portions (incl bone) $5/kg
  • Chicken breast $8-10/kg
  • Mince $10/kg
  • Lamb chops (incl bone) $15/kg
  • Eye fillet $30/kg
  • Fish (whole) $10-15/kg
  • Fish fillet $20-30/kg

Stuff with bones needs double. Our household eats a lot of mince and chicken. Eye fillet turns out to be a cheaper treat than lamb chops.

Rather than buy expensive (nice) steak to cook I tend to eat out now. If I am paying through the nose I’d rather someone else does the cooking and cleaning up. Same for fish, my favourite is blue cod but it’s now about $35 a kilo, and it’s a hassle cooking small amounts properly, so that’s another eat out or takeaway (and that’s only occasionally).

Have they considered that maybe the price of meat is what is causing us to eat less of it? Do these people really think that behaviour change due to changing economics is really a lack of respect? Do they feel that they deserve a certain consumption of their product as a god-given right?

I don’t think it’s a lack of consumption that’s the problem, it’s the lack of respect for their farming practices, or abuse.

Interesting graphic showing difference in consumption of chicken, pork, beef and lamb between 2006 and 2016

Year Chicken Pork Beef Lamb
2006 32.1kg 16.0kg 17.2kg 19.4kg
2016 40kg 17.6kg 10.4kg 0.9kg

Statistics NZ food price index tables are available online. Page for June 2005 – May 2008 and June 2008 to present.

Consumption is mostly economic.

Funny thing is, while I produce my own mutton (I prefer that to lamb), despite running chooks and having plenty of space for more we only produce eggs, not chicken meat. We have done it but the killing and plucking and cleaning is a turnoff.

I may have a phobia about plucking poultry – when I was a kid my father would arrive home from opening weekend with a bag of ducks. Plucking was a pain, but as I had smaller hands I also got to pluck the guts. And then had to pick out the shot when eating. And I don’t really like eating duck. But I don’t disrespect duck farmers, i just choose not to eat their products.

19 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  February 5, 2018

    That article brought back some memories. Plucking buckshot out of my duck meat. Tending to 50 head of sheep that my old man and a partner ran. Roasts..I can just remember those.
    I was never that fond of meat, it was the fat I loved. I absolutely love meat fat…Silverside and Porterhouse are my favourites.. I used to love splashing fat with Boss Mint Sauce.

    Unfortunately age doth wearied my liver to the point that even a piece of cheese can only be eaten now and again. However, I definitely feel better for eating less meat.

    Nowadays it’s not uncommon for elite athletes to go meat free one week out from an event. They find their bodies function better without the tedious task of digesting meat, and having to deal with the toxic byproducts.

    • Blazer

       /  February 5, 2018

      try ..soup.

      • Corky

         /  February 5, 2018

        That may be the end result of three years with a Labour government. Hell, let’s hope I can afford stock to go with the chlorinated water.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 5, 2018

      Hath wearied or doth weary, not doth wearied. Doth means does,Hath is has.

      Even when I ate meat, I loathed fat-the feel in my mouth was as bad as the taste. I once had pork belly and couldn’t eat it, even when I cut the meat away from the fat it seemed saturated with it and tasted of it.

      • Corky

         /  February 5, 2018

        WARNING..GRAMMAR PRAT ON THE PROWL.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 5, 2018

          WARNING; Ignoramus Maxissimus (Pestus Maximus genus) on the prowl, Thinks that it is all right to say ‘does wearied’ and that this makes sense.

  2. NOEL

     /  February 5, 2018

    Redditt! Yeah shouldn’t be surprised that they would take a few threads and weave them into something that’s not there.
    Red meat a combination scare science, price( especially lamb) and cheaper chicken.
    Butter scare science.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 5, 2018

      How does that person know that lamb tastes like shit ?

      I don’t eat meat now because the idea revolts me. I always hated handling raw meat, and now find that I can eat well without eating a dead animal.

      If I began eating meat again, it would make no difference to the economy, anyway.

      Pete, I always liked hogget better than lamb (I think that lamb is used for all sheep meat now, unless there are some massive lambs out there) and mutton (can rams also be wethers ?) could be the best of all. If only it wasn’t from animals who’ve been killed. I remember a really brilliant cook whom we knew telling us that dinner would be boiled mutton. Consternation-how could we eat boiled mutton ? YUKKKK ! UGHHHH ! AAGGHHHH ! But it was unbelievably delicious and tender, done with onions and .? We all stuffed ourselves and had seconds.

      • Corky

         /  February 5, 2018

        Please Kitty. Stop. Review this clip and understand your ignorance. This cowboy explains it all for people who are misinformed.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 5, 2018

          No, thank you. I have better things to do with my time.

          If someone says that lamb tastes like shit, one must wonder how they know this. 😀

          Ignorance ? Of what ? I am fully aware of what eating meat fat does to the human body.

          • Corky

             /  February 5, 2018

            Tell me, what does meat fat do to the body?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  February 5, 2018

              Clogs the arteries and increases the risk of heart attacks. It also has a huge number of calories, so is likely to lead to obesity. I can’t see it being good for cholestorol levels, either.

            • Corky

               /  February 5, 2018

              Please read up on the latest research so we can continue the discussions. Especially research regarding the cholesterol theory.

  3. phantom snowflake

     /  February 5, 2018

    Vaguely related to the topic; the issue of the treatment of animals at rodeos is one which has been in the news a lot recently.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/101155386/bull-breaks-leg-before-being-euthanised-in-appalling-incident-at-martinborough-rodeo

    • PartisanZ

       /  February 5, 2018

      Not to mention the treatment of dairy and beef cattle, descendants of forest-dwelling ruminants, seldom if ever provided with any shelter, especially from the blazing cancerous NZ sun … presumably because each tree represents 1 metre-ish diameter of lost pasture to the farmer and maybe makes spraying with toxic chemicals more difficult and more obvious … they kill the trees like they do the pasture …

      And that’s just life on the farm … Never mind death at the meatworks!

      But of course, how we treat animals doesn’t affect the quality of the meat or dairy … any more than it psychically affects us …

      • phantom snowflake

         /  February 5, 2018

        Awesome rant, you’re on fire today! This is a bit tangential, but that’s how we roll. For many generations the New Zealand public has been told that we need to consume lots of milk and other dairy products as the calcium they contain will “build strong teeth and bones.” Strangely, we are a country who has both a high rate of osteoporosis and a high consumption of dairy…

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 5, 2018

    Got to go and put a roast on.