My brother is a large animal vet in a rural area. He pretty much works seven days a week. The pager goes off, and he's out in the dark, cold night pulling a calf, or going to calm and help an injured horse. It's a hard job, not just the hours. While we were sitting in the family room, Dr. Bill told his son to be careful where he put his feet, not to kick the spot on his leg that was still sore from a harder kick by a cow. Dr. Bill also has a shiny row of gold-capped teeth in the back of his mouth from another such kick. He's missing part of a finger where it got caught in between a horse and a chute.
It's a hard job caring for livestock. A hard job that he loves. He has a deep respect for the animals, and for the farmers as well, many who are right there beside him as he works.
I think about him quite a bit these days. While I go to source local meats, I consider the hard work it takes to care for the animals. I think about how the animals are raised, what kind of life they have. I think about how my choices affect these animals and the small farmers who raise them with care.
It seems pretty inconvenient to track down food sources and do the extra leg work. After all, the grocery store is just up the road. It takes some extra calls, and driving a bit out of the way to pick up a steak or two or half a beef. But, I realize now, that consumer choice is nothing compared to the work of raising and caring for these animals.
The choice matters because:
- It supports a family farm in my community
- It supports sustainable agriculture
- It supports raising livestock naturally, without antibiotics
- It supports a better, humane life for the food animals
- It keeps me involved and connected to the source of my food
- It provides my family with a healthier and safer meat supply
- Naturally-raised meat tastes really, really good
- Buying in bulk even saves me money
- And, it's a helluva lot easier than being kicked in the jaw by my own cow
MRSA was found at nearly half of the farms and found in about one of every four pigs. One in five of the pig farmers were also infected. Canada will export about nine million pork to the U.S. this year alone. This study is the first one to conclusively suggest that a major source of MRSA in North America is from large-scale agriculture practices and overuse of antibiotics.