“You’re eating Lurch,” said my brother Kelly right after I took a hefty bite out of my burger.
Lurch? What the fuck?
My brother works on Cooper Farm, a 4-H farm for the Omaha Home for Boys. Kids show up here and learn to groom and take care of the animals. They go to fairs and show the animals.
I’ve heard many stories about the cows on this farm.
I’ve heard about how the pregnant cows spin trying to birth their babies. Kelly has to keep an eye on them because sometimes they spin so fast the babies fly over the fence and the mama cow can’t get to them. I’d never heard of cows spinning before, but it makes sense. Centrifugal force.
I’ve heard about how once Kelly wasn’t paying attention and the cows tried to love on him and squished him and broke a few ribs, among other things. 1 to 2 tons of cow is nothing to be trifled with.
When I walk by Bobo the Bull, he either finds me highly interesting or highly suspicious because he gets to his feet to track me.
Sometimes, when I get close, the cows try to lick me. For the salt I’m sure.
Now I know logically that with all the babies born every year, the farm would be full of cows. They’d be everywhere.
But deep down inside, I really didn’t believe that anyone was eating this farm’s cows. My cousin Todd once told me that if Kelly ever lost his job, he could come work on the ranch he works on as a cowboy. I told him that Kelly was attached to his cows and might not like it if they get eaten.
Todd probably thought I was some sort of idiot.
Being a cowboy is hard work. Todd changed careers and is now a full-stack developer.
And now I’m eating Lurch.
Rethinking my Burger
It threw me for a loop. I’m like everyone else in this country. I get my burgers at the supermarket. Already ground and wrapped in plastic. I don’t have to think about where it comes from.
I spent the day looking out the window at the cows. They were in the pasture next to the house that morning. Chewing the cud. Chewing and chewing and chewing.
I know my brother cares for his cows. I asked him if it bothers him. He told me that it didn’t bother him. That it was the cow’s purpose. He takes care of them their whole lives, makes them comfortable.
The cow’s purpose. And he’s right. The cows today have been bred for this purpose. Humans did that to them, like they do to many other species. In this world today, these cows are food.
This brings me to mind another post of mine: The Ethics of Chowing Down.
If they hadn’t been bred, maybe they’d know that they could just break down that fence. Even Bobo the Bull doesn’t know that he could break down the fence. I made sure I didn’t alarm him; I didn’t want him to figure it out and come after me if he thought I was a threat.
Kelly has been on this farm for over 35 years. And he’s done all the things that farmers do.
I had to stop and rethink it all. It was strange for me. Especially as I looked out the window at the cows wondering “will I be eating you next year?” It’s kinda fucked up.
And why the hell would you name your food? Lurch, for crying out loud.
Lurch was donated to the Home and was already named. The boys who worked with the cows named them too. Heck, the cows feed all those boys in the home!
I see it. It trips me up a little, but I see it.
Why go to the store to buy hamburger when you have it on your farm?
A long time ago I tried to go vegetarian. I got sick. Personally, I think it’s because I’m blood type O. I’m supposed to have meat. I’ve accepted that. Plus, I love meat. I eat a lot more meat than veggies.
But now I have to add these new ideas into the way I think about it. I have to resolve the cognitive dissonance. I have to decide my reaction and choices.
Kelly’s grilling up the last of Lurch. Which one’s next? Snowflake?
As I held out my plate for the last burger I thought, “Thanks Lurch. I’m glad I didn’t know you.”