Home Opinion and Features Do what you can to make life a little less harsh

Do what you can to make life a little less harsh

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I remember a four-year-old city boy who visited our farm and was taken to watch the cows being milked one day

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Whenever it’s practical I try to spend my meagre earnings as ethically as possible.

If I can buy a product in a recyclable package, rather than plastic; I’m willing to pay an extra few cents for it. I like to support small, local family owned businesses rather than big, national corporations, and I refuse to use a certain brand of petrol because I believe they want to frack up my beloved Karoo.

I prefer to eat meat from free-range animals if possible, and I tend to buy organically grown vegetables when they are available. I don’t for one moment believe my puny little efforts will change the world, or even my village.

I do it because it makes me feel a little better about myself. I suppose that’s being selfish.

We live in a largely pre-packaged world and it’s easy to start believing bacon comes ready sliced in a vacuum-sealed bag and boerewors grows pre-coiled and chilled.

Eggs grow in neat papier-mâché boxlets and milk arrives sealed in sterile plastic jars shaped to fit in our fridge doors. The reality (which is hidden from most city kids) is that food production is mostly messy, usually mucky and often cruel.

Abattoir workers wear gumboots as they slosh about, ankle-deep in fresh blood.

Farmers collect animal poop and spread it on the fields where our dainty strawberries grow. The fish we eat may live a free-range life in the sea, but once it is caught it is not treated with much sympathy.

I remember a four-year-old city boy who visited our farm and was taken to watch the cows being milked one day.

He laughed until he literally fell on his back with mirth.

For weeks afterwards he regaled his little friends with description of how they “pulled the cows’ wee-wees and milk came out”.

I think we should expose children to the realities of life and the things we eat.

Our food doesn’t come from factories. It comes from the earth – mud and manure.

Once they know what is involved in food production they can decide for themselves which foods to buy and which foods – or brands – to avoid.

After having enjoyed the drumstick of an innocent chicken they might also feel a little less indignant when the family cat kills an innocent little mouse.

Life can be harsh for many of this world’s creatures.

We should do what we can to make it a little less harsh.

Particularly to our fellow humans.

They deserve a bit of kindness, too.

Last Laugh

Noah Webster, compiler of the famous English Dictionary, was as fussy about the correct use of words in his personal life as he was in his dictionary.

Legend has it that his wife came into the kitchen unannounced one day and found him passionately kissing the cook.

“I am surprised!” snorted Mrs Webster.

“No, my dear,” said Noah, “you are astonished. I am surprised.”