Nuts — Teachers, lambs, slaughter, compassion for animals

16 February, 2010

Alex Renton writes in The Grauniardian

I remember noticing a story in the news a few months ago about a head teacher vilified and threatened for attempting to teach children that the lamb on their dinner plates comes from the cute wee woolly things in the fields surrounding their school. There was more to it than that, of course, but that seemed to me to be the gist of it.

This morning I received an email from Peelham Farm in Berwickshire drawing my attention to an article in last Friday’s Guardian, all about the issue.

Peelham Farm is dedicated to producing organic pigs, sheep and beef as compassionately/respectfully as possible. They attempt to reconcile our desire to eat animals with the right (my word) of farmed animals to be treated as well as possible while they survive, and our responsibility (my choice of word again) to provide that sort of treatment.

They started a scheme last year whereby up to 12 families/individuals at a time can own a Tamworth pig, which will eventually be slaughtered and turned into the yummy pork products of the owners’ choice. This scheme was drawn to my attention by the multi-talented and ever-vigilant Mango Terrier (who may also have had a paw in the creation of the Peelham website), and after some discussion it was agreed that Piglet, Piss-Piss and I could join in but on a slightly different basis. We now have a pig–Philomena–but she’s going to be a breeding sow rather than a bacon sandwich. I mentioned all this in a couple of postings some time last year.

Anyway, Peelham mentioned the article because they, in turn, were mentioned by the article’s author, journalist Alex Renton. He and his family had a pig from Peelham last year, and I think they may have another one there now. In the light of his experience he was interested in the case of the primary school head teacher, and so that’s what his article is about.

On all sorts of levels the way the teacher has been treated seems to me to be crazy. I wouldn’t mind betting that the parents so opposed to allowing their children to know that burgers come from live animals, and concerned at the harm that might be imparted by the sharing of that knowledge, would have a great deal in common with the other bunch of nutters parents who made special journeys to their children’s schools, during Jamie Oliver’s attempt to introduce some real food into school dinner menus a year or so ago, in order to pass them processed crud through the railings so that they didn’t have to come face-to-face with a vegetable.


Environmentalists — Bad For the Planet?

28 January, 2010

For those not quite sure what to make of the melee that calls itself the environmental debate–and maybe even for those who reckon they have it sussed–there was a very interesting edition of Analysis on Radio 4 this week. Here’s the blurb.

Mon, 25 Jan 10

Duration: 29 mins

The BBC’s Ethical Man Justin Rowlatt asks if environmentalists are bad for the planet. Are they being distracted from the urgent task of tackling climate change by a more radical agenda for changing society?

Clive James has touched upon aspects of this debate a couple of times recently, in (Radio 4 again) A Point of View. See Climate Change — A Story Too Often Told the Same Way and In Praise of Scepticism. The podcasts of his broadcasts are no longer available, but I think I may still have them on my HD. (Read: I have them. If you’d like to hear them then email me.)

I’m not yet sure what to make of the debate, not having paid sufficient attention and not having a scientific background. I do believe that the stifling of discussion is not generally A Good Thing, though, so I’m concerned to hear people who are clearly better informed than me, and appear to lack an ulterior motive, expressing doubt about the way in which reality is being represented.

Anyway, dash across and listen to Analysis (or download the podcast) here, if interested. Radio 4 podcasts are only available for a week, so best make haste if you’d like to hear it.