Sustainability on the Hoof

Nearly a year after the book was published, we keep hearing astonishing stories of how Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma has changed the lives of those reading it. People are challenging themselves to eat local, and trading in their organic packaged food for sustainable fresh food.

And in Davis, California, a local book club made up of mostly suburban moms read Pollan’s portrayal of factory farming. They were so affected by it that it inspired them to band together, buy a couple head of dairy cows and a few pigs and ducks, and raise their own meat.

An article in The Davis Enterprise, “Solving a ‘Dilemma:’ Book inspires omnivores to buy meat on the hoof,” tells the story of the seven women and one man who last November bought seven ducks, two dairy cows, and three pigs. The animals are kept on one of the members’ land.

‘Reading Pollan’s book and learning kind of the minutia of industrial farming was stunning,’ [Romana] Norton said. ‘I couldn’t live with the knowledge anymore. When the walls came down, there was no going back for me.’

The group acknowledges that it has been a lot of work to raise the animals (some of which had to be bottle-fed when they arrived at the farm), but they have strived not to become attached to the animals, naming them, for instance, Pork Chop, instead of Wilbur. Still, the first slaughter of ducks was tough on them:

‘That was really traumatic,’ Hunt said.

Without going into too much detail, there was a tree stump and an ax.

The group will hire someone to handle the rest of the slaughtering.