Posted on March 9, 2017
Tout est Bon Dans le Cochon
For the longest time, I have not eaten meat with four feet. I find it difficult to eat something that could be a pet. There are movies about pigs as pets, horses, rabbits, and cows also. In the United States, it is normal to have cats and dogs as pets. Therefore, I find it very difficult to even think eating them.
We travel so much in different types of homes, so I have tried to become more open about the foods that I eat. There are travelers who insist on only eating organic foods, staying vegan and following a strict diet. I know how much stress that causes a host, so I try not to be that person.
When we were invited to come to this place so that we could speak French and maybe help out a little on the farm, I said yes. There are children with whom Bean can play. There are animals for her to touch and follow around. She can feed them if she wishes or do her own thing. There are pigs, cows, ducks, chickens, cats, and geese. There aren’t a lot, but she can see more here than at a petting zoo.
The lady of the house let me know that if I came, they would be killing a pig so that they would have the meat for the rest of the year. I have always heard terrible things about the way animals are killed in factories. I have also heard the way animals are killed on organic farms. In my mind, I found it difficult to have a concrete idea of what it would be like to be present when an animal was killed for food. I wanted Bean to see the process so that she would be aware of where meat comes from as she is already knowledgeable about vegetables and fruit. I also wanted a concrete understanding about the killing of animals.
We woke up early in the morning and prepared to see the event. The butchers arrived with the pig and put her on the table. The men of the farm strapped her down and held her along with the “killer” as he is called in French. He thanked the pig for her life and for giving her life so that they could have meat. After which he killed her very gently but forcefully. It was only slightly uncomfortable to watch as it is truly a part of life which has taken place since the beginning of time. I think once I understood that, along with watching the pig give her life, it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it would be to watch an animal be killed. Bean wasn’t happy about it, but she didn’t scream or throw a fit. She didn’t beg for the life of the pig, which were all possibilities. It was a real life science lesson.
The women of the house took the blood to make blood sausage and the butchers continued to do their job. I stayed as I found it fascinating how the animal transitioned from a living being to food meant to nourish a family. The butchers remained respectful throughout the entire process. Watching them, I realized that all the time I have spent not eating this type of meat, I had forgotten about their job.
The butcher must know the location of each organ and where to make the correct cut so that he doesn’t chop up something that might be used for a specific recipe or a particular cut of meat. They do this by memory. They don’t have a chart to show them where these parts are on each different animal, whether big or small. That is amazing. They did a beautiful job.
After the animal was carved and taken to the cave to cool down until the next day when the family would make sausages and salt the meat for the coming year, we all went a had a drink: Pastis. I have heard it was very strong and not at all nice to drink. I enjoyed my glass. I drank with the real men of the Aveyron region of France. I feel special. They told me that normally the men drink and the women keep on working. This was a joke as everyone took time to have a drink.
I am very thankful for the opportunity that I had to experience this event. I have more respect for the people who kill animals for food,along with the people who prepare the food made from animals. I realize that when I refuse to eat certain types of food, I am also forgetting about the many people who make certain food possible for others to eat. I will remember this in the future and be grateful for what goes into my mouth. Who knows, one day I may even be able to eat a nice pork chop.