It is becoming a common tradition for rural co-operatives to hold seasonal events inviting town and country people to reacquaint themselves with rural life and local food. These occur anytime from spring planting through fall harvest.
Last Saturday Guelph Wellington Local Food hosted its spring rural romp, a tour of farms, restaurants, butcher shops and similar businesses in the more rural northern part of the county. A fall rural romp focuses on the southern half near the city of Guelph.
Saturday morning was beautiful and brisk. My partner, my daughter and I made a pleasant excursion and managed to visit four of 15 destination featured in the event. We spent the most time at Reroot Organic Farm, home to a wide variety of animals including pigs, several sheep, numerous chickens of various breeds, black angus and other cattle, rabbits, an affectionate miniature donkey, a llama, dogs and a friendly barn cat. All these pictures were taken there. Their pork had been recommended to us, so we will consider purchasing a mixed box or half pig in the fall. The pigs are free to range outside and their diet is supplemented with GMO-free grain.
I was also delighted to see a bobolink singing on some tall grass in the field.
I dream of having a large vegetable garden but doubt whether I could raise livestock to eat. I am squeamish about slaughtering.
People who cannot face the facts about an animal’s life and death should not eat meat. It is fine to pay someone else to do the dirty work, but the rest of us should get to know these people (called farmers) and our food (living creatures). If you do not care how it arrives on your table, you support a vacuum of ignorance where ethical questions go unasked and unanswered. You cannot know whether food passing your lips is healthy or the animals were treated humanely. Many organic and biodynamic farmers encourage customers to visit the farms. Everyone should engage with nutrition on a personal level.
We passed all kinds of families. One mother commented to me in passing: “I need to get my kids out of the city more.”
When another mother lifted her three-year-old daughter to pet the friendly donkey, the little girl said, “I want to see the vegetables.”
At a nursery, a brother and sister quarreled over who got to pull a wagon, knocking over potted saplings. “Be careful of the plants,” I scolded, but the children kept screaming at one another. “They usually get along so well,” their mother said.
Respect for life is a hard lesson. Start early and review it often. Look up your local food cooperative and see what events they hold so you can get to know the people who grow and handle what you eat.