Mangoes, breadfruit, and papayas were all available within arm’s reach at any time. Rice shipped over from nearby India was a staple in most meals. My father was the most skillful fisherman around (not a difficult task with the abundance of fish in those warm seas!), and I am told he climbed coconut trees to collect his fermented brew with monkey-like ease. My father was also instrumental to my love of pork which was often served up to us roasted, and marinated in curries by my mother’s skillful hand. My grandfather was a farmer, and to this day my relatives raise pigs on Mahe, the main Island of the Seychelles.
Farming is in my blood. I have raised pigs for self-consumption over the last three years, and served as a very content taste-tester to arrive where we are today: offering juicy pork full of flavour to residents of Gippsland and Melbourne. My quest is to produce the best quality pigs in an ethical and sustainable manner, this means taking into consideration the quality of life of the animals, and the impact on the environment.
For thousands of years, humans have lived in harmony with the natural rhythms and processes of the earth, up until relatively recently. Those who still maintain a connection to the land today do so by respecting its flora and fauna, in life and in death. Indigenous peoples across the globe pay a momentary tribute to their prey in one form or another. They recognize the life they have taken, and thank it for the life it is giving to them and their families. This is not a plastic-wrapped commodity for them to simply consume, but one that comes with an element of grief and appreciation. There is a recognition of their role in the cycle of all living things – to be caretakers, rather than consumers and conquerors of the land.
As soon as we choose to acknowledge the value of all life, we are part of making our food chain work better, in my estimation.
The reason we post all these endearing photos of the animals as well as the meat is that we want people to know the meat on their plate did not just appear there – it lived as good a life as I can provide for it, following the instincts it was born with, and eating food it thrives on. This is perhaps a more modern way of connecting our customers with the land, and the life it can produce. And, while I am selectively determining when its life cycle will end, instead of letting nature cull it in a usually painful way, this is done humanely and very quickly – one brief moment in an otherwise good life.
It is easy to turn away and avoid the connection we have to our dietary sources by buying an anonymous cut of meat at the supermarket. We all do it, but in doing so we have chosen to make ourselves blind to the life the animal lived and how it was treated. How an animal lives (and dies) is instrumental to the quality of the meat, including the concentration of vitamins and minerals present in the final product. The stress levels experienced over an of animal’s lifespan impacts tremendously on its quality – this is one reason we farm the way we do.
On a side note: confinement farmers are not bad people. Farmers do not make much money to start with, so increasing the amount of livestock in any particular area can increase a farmer’s income. However, a life of restricted confinement is not a natural life cycle for the animal. Whilst it removes an enormous amount of risk to the farmer, more intervention and medicinal products are needed to keep the animals alive in a confined, over-populated situation. This ultimately impacts the end product. While you may pay less for it at the supermarket, the cost is borne elsewhere – by the animal and the environment.
So, we welcome you to follow our story at Bruthen Creek Free Range Pork. You don’t have to come and bond with the pigs. You don’t have to get your hands dirty caring for them and sustaining their life cycles. You don’t even have to buy Bruthen Creek products! But for the sake of our future and our children’s futures, please be aware of how your food products were produced and raised. Care about it. Make an effort to see where your meat comes from and how it lived. You may be horrified in some circumstances, (as I have witnessed over the years, in certain farming practices) or alternatively, you may be overwhelmed with gratitude as I am for them. \\
Thanks for journeying with us.
Cheers heaps, Ray