Thursday, August 25, 2011

Growing up

I've heard throughout my forty-two years on this planet that it's not a good idea to give too much thought to critics and naysayers, flamers and assholes.

And yet. Isn't that exactly what we do sometimes? Cling to that one little negative thing someone said, turn it over and over in our minds until it morphs into something completely different—bigger, more offensive, infuriating even. You shake your fists and foam at the mouth—Ooh why I oughta!

I used to do that. Before I went Primal. (Yes, two months into my experiment and I'm still reaping rewards. Pooping regularly, thank you, wee! Getting nuttier over it too, but that's a post for a different day. It involves bare feet. And chairlessness. I guess you could say it's the rabbit hole that keeps on giving. Bryan's still waiting for me to implode before he takes any of this seriously. He's given me till December, the six-month mark. Um, that's my disclaimer. He's an uber-rational guy, see.)

Okay. Back to the assholes. I received a nasty comment on my previous post. I hadn't gotten any negative comments in the six years since I started this blog—well there was that one a few months back when some anonymous poster told me to get a job. I cursed at the screen, deleted their comment, took their advice and wrote a novel.

Silver linings everywhere, right?

So this recent anonymous poster wrote, "You are a really crazy woman. Don't know you but maybe there was a point to that experience especially draining that animal looks like great fun for your kids."

Since I am filled with EPA and B vitamins, I didn't get too bent out of shape about it. I feel sane to the point of rejoicing each night as I lay myself to sleep, which makes plenty of other people seem WACKO, even though I'm the one thanking my clasped hands in the dark. I simply replied, "anonymous—grow some balls and reveal your identity. It's the least you can do, coming to my blog to bash me, you ignorant tool."

It felt so good!

But then I thought some more about it. I didn't receive too many comments on my last post and I wondered if maybe those photos of my daughter watching a deer getting skinned grossed people out. Maybe they were offended and thought I was crazy too, but since we're friends they didn't want to ruffle my meat-eating feathers.

Maybe Anonymous has a point, albeit a cowardly, disrespectfully presented point, with little care given to punctuation...

So what is the story with my five year-old daughter and the deer carcass anyway?

The story is simple: she wanted to watch. Bryan and I asked her repeatedly if she was sure she wanted to watch and she said yes every time, blowing not only our minds but the minds of the farmers too. She remained rooted to the ground and stared as the deer was skinned and sliced, beheaded and butchered. At one point, illustrated above, she stomped over to me and said, "It's sad but I can't stop watching." You know, car crash style. I offered to take her away. She said no. The next day when we dined on backstrap she politely declined as she had planned to do. She did eat the venison burger however.

And seven year-old Hamish? He opted out of the viewing but relished the steak. He wants no part of death, sensitive soul that he is, aside from consuming its spoils. We respect his wishes.

I have no problem with my daughter witnessing the butchering of an animal that is to be consumed if that is her wish. I am in good company, too. Anyone read The Dirty Life? Kristin and Mark Kimball are modern agricultural heroes and it makes me proud to have a tiny something in common with them. How do people think meat makes its way to their plates anyway? It's not elfin magic. Death is a part of life and in my omnivorous view, it's childish to pretend it's not. Better yet, demystify death and familiarize kids with the reality of it early on. (Now if only I could use this truth-logic to tackle Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy...) Anyway, a whole lot of animals die to grow vegetarian delights like lettuce and soy, corn and wheat. Entire ecosystems are wiped out to plant and sustain monocropsI used to have a huge problem with the eating of animals which is why I was a vegetarian for a dozen years. I could have been that anonymous a-hole back when my main source for nutritional information came from John Robbins

Growing up beats pretending you can outwit death at the table. But the news is good. It's called mutual indebtedness
, and it's one of the reasons I am so thankful every night. For my food, my health, and for you, Kind Reader.

Thanks for tuning in,


Larissa said...

I am totally down with everything you're saying. My kids just watched chickens getting slaughtered the other day. So much rather have us all be appreciative of where meat comes from, and see a farmer who makes an effort to be humane. You are doing great, but if you write another novel because of this ahole, that would be good too!

Elise Abrams Miller said...

Larissa! I love the life you're making outside the city for yourself and those kids. It's such a natural curiosity. Now I'm in even better company! I'm so glad to have learned about this mutual insparkedness while my kids are still kids. and yes thank the gods for the a-holes. we'd have no dramatic conflict without them!

Main Line Yoga said...

crazy is a good thing, baby

Elise Abrams Miller said...

Yes MLY. Good point! Thanks for making it.

Jen said...

I don't know you, but I've followed your journey for several years--it is often scarily similar to my own. I've read books based on your recommendation that have changed my life, e.g., Nina Planck and Lierre Keith (I was never a vegetarian, but I did love that book.). People think I'm crazy because I think meat is fine, but grains are not. All this to say: When I saw the photos, I thought: Well there you go. If that's not getting close to your food then I don't know what is. I have often reaped the rewards of a hunting/fishing brother. I applaud your unconventional ways, all the way down to your summer vacation. It takes courage to step away from the norm; even more to put it out there for all to see.

kristi said...

hear, hear, jen! agree with everything you are saying re: elise.

seriously. you know, if you were raising your kids in the country, this would just be a way of life. i have told you personally, but i will say it publicly as well, that growing up in arkansas i had this education whether i wanted it or not. no adult ever even thought to ask me "hey honey are you OK with seeing this fish or deer skinned?"

my dad would bring home squirrel tails and rabbit's feet for me to play with.

lots of what i witnessed was probably not all that PC (i am pretty sure my grandpa and dad sold raccoon pelts for money, but then again we lived in arkansas and we were dirt poor so i don't know...), but i really am thankful for the chance to know exactly what happens to animals before we eat them.

that goes for the chickens and pigs and cows that i saw being raised up so our family could eat.

i am convinced that knowing this makes me a more responsible adult, at least in this area.

and now, raising my kids in the city, well they have an idea that the meat we eat comes from little animals that were once running around in a yard somewhere, but i really need to do a better job of actually educating them.

so again, i agree with jen: thanks for being our example.


Elise Abrams Miller said...

Hear hear hear HEAR! Kristi and Jen, thank you for stopping by to comment. You both make a great point regarding perspective. When you grow up witnessing the steps it takes to get food to your plate it's not even something you question, it's just part of the way of it all. I grew up in sanitized suburbia and grocery stores and restaurants were all I knew, so watching this deer get skinned was novel for both myself and Stella. Thanks for adding your experiences to the mix. We've become so detached from our true natures in so many ways, and there's a resurgence of connection brewing that I relish.

Jen, I also want to thank you for letting me know that what I've written here has made an impact on you and I am viewed as crazy too by some folks. The paradigm shift is a biggie but we can only follow the bliss, right? I am so happy about your experience and I thank you for letting me know.

Mitch Christenson said...

You have done nothing wrong in allowing Stella, as she herself requested, to witness the butchering of an animal for your sustenance. As Larissa, Jen, and Kristi point out, it's not only important that we understand how our food gets to be our food, it was and is a way of life for many of us at one time or another. I grew up on a sheep farm; we always had a freezer full of delicious lamb. The meat doesn't arrive at the table by magic. Farm children learn much sooner than city kids that death is a part of life, that if you're going to enjoy meat you have to learn that it comes from a living creature whether that creature is raised or hunted, trapped, or caught on a hook. Kudos to you and Stella; she will be a much wiser, more complete human for her experiences. Go back to ingoring the critics and naysayers, flamers and assholes, especially those who prefer to remain anonymous.

Elise Abrams Miller said...

Mitch, I appreciate you stopping by to comment and love learning that yet another friend grew up surrounded by animals. Now I am even more inspired to immerse the family so we can re-educate ourselves regarding life, death and food. Now I'm hungry for lamb...