Life has been quite busy lately. I was hoping that many of you wouldn’t notice my absence but many of you have said, “Josie! What’s up, I don’t get your blog anymore.” Here’s why. As of January I started going to school, volunteering heavily in a political campaign, becoming partner in a weight-loss business, all while running a thriving Web development company. To say the least, I’ve been a little busy. Please excuse my haphazard dedication to Hungry Herbivores while I have a post-graduate existential crisis!
Aside from depriving me of sleep, my activities of late have taken me to some interesting places. Last Friday I accompanied Dr. Chris Salvino, a Phoenix trauma surgeon who is running for the US House of Representatives, and some of his campaign supporters on a trip to the US-Mexican border. Immigration is a hot topic here in Arizona. Well I guess it is a bit of a hot topic everywhere in the country. This group of seven people including me were interested in learning how illegal immigration was affecting people that live on the border. I did not feel comfortable taking any kind of position without understanding the problem first hand.
It was an interesting journey to Naco, Arizona. Despite having lived here 14 years, I have never been down that way towards Bisbee and Sierra Vista. It was a beautiful drive with gorgeous mountains and sparse population – meaning that we were not engulfed by subdivision after subdivision. It was a welcome change for me since I love the outdoors. As we drove South in the early morning, we couldn’t believe our eyes as we saw snow dusting the mountain tops in April!
Our first stop was to visit John, a cattle rancher who owns a section of land on the US-Mexico border. His property occupies a 10-mile stretch of the border. His family homesteaded the land in the late 1800s and has been tending to it ever since. John’s family operated peacefully for many years until about 18 years ago when immigrants began crossing his land illegally in droves. This blog is not politically driven (I think people of all parties should be vegan so I won’t get into my opinions on the subject. However I will say that John has suffered many losses at the hands of illegal trespassers. Cattle have been killed by machetes, fences are destroyed on a daily basis, his buildings have been invaded, and most recently his neighbor and fellow rancher was shot and killed by an illegal drug trafficker.
You are probably asking, why? Why, Josie, do you have sympathy for a man who makes his living off of selling animals for profit? Here’s why. Because if people are going to continue to eat meat, which I feel certain they will, I think John is the kind of rancher we need. He cares for his cattle. They have an enormous ranch to traverse with fresh grasses to eat. He keeps 1 cattle per 20 acres of land. That is a stark contrast to the feedlots and confined feeding operations we are often warned about. None of this excuses the fact that his cows will eventually end up the slaughter house as almost all cows do but at least they will have a descent life for the time they are here. As in most animal production, it is his male cows that are sold for slaughter. He keeps the females for breeding.
John does not run an assembly line of mass production. He is a cattle rancher as his father and grandfather were. These are the ranchers that have gone by the wayside in large-scale animal production. The ranchers that give a damn about their “product” and the well being of their animals. While I would not eat a cow from John’s ranch or any other, I wish that the people who do eat meat choose to support ranches like these as opposed to mass producing, confined animal feeding operations.