by Slow Food USA staffer Jerusha Klemperer
Throughout March and April we covered the Island Grown Farmers Cooperative, in the San Juan Islands, and its USDA certified mobile slaughter facility. This week I traveled to Lopez Island where I had the opportunity to visit several members of the cooperative, see their pasture-grazing cows, sheep, and goats, and witness the slaughter of 2 sheep.
The only images of slaughter I have previously held in my mind have been of the horror show kind. Distressed animals being handled quickly and roughly, and me, in tears, watching footage through my fingers.
To see the IGFC mobile slaughter facility in action is to understand, in the deepest sense, what a successful venture this has been–for business, yes, in the ways that I described in earlier posts–but even more, for the health and well being of the animals. The animals live quietly and well in the fields, then enter the barn they’ve known all their lives. They are processed humanely and the work is slow, careful, and meticulously clean. I watched it from inches away, and though it was challenging, especially at first, I watched it eyes open.
I left the island utterly convinced of mobile facilities as the next wave–to step in where small/mid-size infrastructure has crumbled away. It works for the farmers, and it works for the residents of the islands, who are able to eat meat that their neighbors have raised. It’s an amazing sensation to drive around the island and see the animals, and then to know–not just because someone told you, but because you’ve seen it with your own eyes–exactly where your food has come from.
(picture is of Horsedrawn Farms, on Lopez)