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Sheep are for eating.

April 6, 2010

It was a genuine pleasure to read the other day that the head teacher Andrea Charman was reistated to her post, amid overwhelming support from the parents and teachers of her school in Kent.

The storm that surrounded the headteacher, after the much publicised slaughter of the school lamp, was frankly disgusting and showed that the internet can be used for the vile and disgusting as well as the good. The hounding that followed her was nothing short of cyber-bullying by an ignorant, but highly vocal, minority.

In an effort to educate, the school reared a sheep, called Marcus, for the express purpose of showing the children in a more real way, part of our food cycle. How wonderful! How I wish my daughter could go to a school where there is an associated farm where the essentials of our food chain can be seen and interacted with, rather than only being read from a text book.

It all seems to have kicked off when a couple of idignant parents decided that being in the minority wasn’t good enough and decided that this was the perfect moment for their 5 minutes of fame. It seems they managed to blurr the boundry between pet and food and created a very impressing storm over a non issue. The hypocrasy is astonishing, the complainers were basically saying, its okay to eat meat so long as you have no idea how it gets to your plate.

Oh I do hope that ill informed and ill intentioned Paul O’Grady has realised that his offer to buy the sheep ‘to save it’ was an utterly ignorant and unhelpful thing to do.

In my readings of a few of the comments on the issue, I have read comments along the lines of; if they really want to educate the children, show them the whole process of the slaughter and show them animals in poor conditions. Its obvious what sort of person these comments are from and they are pretty much predictable. I wonder if those people have seen the sights that they are recomending school children be taken to, and I don’t mean on youTube videos.

Living on a Farm

This whole process has reminded me of my experience of growing up on a farm in Zambia. A couple of memories of that time stick out for me and they involve the slaughter of the sheep that we would be eating for our Christmas dinner. The sheep was slaughtered in the open air, under a tree, by two men. One man held the sheep still while the other took a knife to its throat and cut it. It wasn’t a clean cut, it took a few dozen back and forth motions until the wound was deep enough to allow the blood to flow out freely. This was not a speedy process and the sheep, understandably, struggled with all its might, it never stood a chance. Its purpose was to be Christmas dinner and nothing was going to stop that.

The expired sheep would then be hung up on the tree under which its demise was met, and left to drain for a few hours. All this on a spot next to the footpath I had to take between the main farm buiding and the out building where my family stayed. As a six or seven year old, I found witnessing this event very distressing and I immediately ran to my mother in tears, upset at the cruelty I had witnessed and wished her to put an end to it.

I am very much indebted to my mother for not pandering to the whims of her child and for brushing it off and nonchalantly as she could. I can’t remember exactly what she said to me but it was along of ‘never mind dear, its what needs to happen’. I do remember feeling that she didn’t understand my concerns and that I wasn’t being being given suitable respect. Quite rightly too.

For days the stain of blood on the ground would taunt me as I walked past it. But as it faded, so did my worries and I happily eat the sheep when it was served, along with everyone else who happened to be around for that Christmas celebration.

So it should have been with the child or two that got upset over the sending off of Marcus. In my view, naming an animal that is going to get slaughtered was a silly move, it encourages too close a bond with the animal and it becomes a pet rather than an animal as a source of food.


From → comment, Food, Internet

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