Thanks for the nice words
The Human Side of Farming
July 10th, 2008 dcfilm Posted in by Michele Harris No Comments »
What did you have for dinner last night? There’s a pretty good chance your answer is chicken. According to the National Chicken Council, Americans eat chicken an average of 4.5 times every two weeks.
If you did answer chicken, do you know what that chicken was fed? Most Americans probably don’t know the answer and it’s not a subject most people want to start delving into – especially since the answer is most likely less than appetizing. Beyond what that chicken ate, how was it raised . . . or even how was it slaughtered?
The answers are hard to come by (and usually pretty grizzly) unless you have gone out of your way to purchase chicken that’s Certified Humane. That seal is the best assurance that an egg, dairy, meat or poultry product has been produced with the welfare of the farm animal in mind. It also assures consumers that the food they’re buying was raised under conditions that animals are supposed to be raised in.
While working on a profile of Adele Douglass, the woman who created the Certified Humane seal (www.certifiedhumane.com), I had an opportunity to speak with Craig Floyd of Footsteps Farm in Stonington, CN. Floyd, who retired from the US Postal Service to pursue farming, is full of enthusiasm for what he does. He and his wife Sheryl are passionate about resurrecting the farm that’s been in the Floyd family since 1712.
The way the Floyds farm is different from most working farms. They follow many of the same techniques his ancestors used before chemicals and industrialization turned farming from a way of life into a big business. He told me how he proudly wears his Certified Humane apron when he goes to farmers markets, joking that a lot of people mis-read the apron and ask him what it means to be “Certified Human.”
The thing is, Floyd is actually a fitting example of the word human. Used as a noun, human means a person – which of course, he is – but so is everybody else. However, when used as an adjective human describes the “characteristic of people’s better qualities, such as kindness or sensitivity.” Craig Floyd represents the human side of being a farmer – yes, even to the point that I would say he should be “Certified Human.”
“We do things a little bit differently here on our farm,” he says. “We treat all of our animals with respect.” Floyd says his animals are like family and he even names all his livestock (and some of the chickens).
“Our personal belief is that the Lord put animals on this earth for our consumption but it must be done with respect. We gather our chickens on Friday night in a trailer and we try to keep them calm. Anytime you stress an animal you change the flavor and the tenderness of the meat. Saturday morning is when it’s time for them to go. We give thanks to the Lord for giving us these chickens and we give thanks to each and every chicken for giving their lives for us.”
In addition to chickens, Footsteps Farm raises pigs and cows. They have a wonderful website (www.footstepsfarm.com) that includes both a journal of their farming experiences and a blog. It’s a great place to visit, especially if you’re interested in the human side of farming.