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Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Buddha would eat

What happens to animals to support non-vegan diets

If you believe your loved ones might be reborn as other life forms, it's disturbing to eat meat. If you believe your loved one might be reborn as a cow, chicken, pig, or fish, it's really disturbing to consider the way animals are treated en route to the dinner plate.

I don't personally believe in reincarnation, but the short segment of Farm To Fridge you see at is still pretty disturbing. There's no need for a detailed review - this video just shows you the horrific way in which food animals are treated during their short, miserable lives.

I was a vegetarian in my youth. I think I mentioned that somewhere here already. While I was a vegetarian, I took Zoology 260. Zoology 260 was the class titled "Human Anatomy," and at my college the lab involved actual human cadavers. We didn't get to cut up the cadavers - that was left to the students who took Zoology 360.

Even so, as a Zoology 260 student, I had the chance every week to see and handle the remains of several fellow humans.

For years after I stopped being vegetarian, all meat I did eat reminded me of those bodies.

Since I started eating meat again, I had a wide variety of dishes. In addition to the standard animals and cuts, I've had cicadas, brains, squid,, tripe, testicles, goat, and rabbit. I admit, my mind didn't like the chewy thorax of the cicadas, but the rest went down easy enough. Once I resumed eating meat, it was all just variations on dead animal.

When we make a choice, we embrace the consequence of that choice. All that we do, all that we fail to do, is choice. Whether one bothers to think about the origins of one's food or not, we vote for the consequences of what the world does to provide us that food.

My point? Just that the 'normal' food involves some pretty distasteful aspects.

Makes home-based food production sound better all the time. At least if I'm eating my own food, I know what I did to the poor organisms. Speaking of which...

Some of my fish have not been thriving. It's been distressing to see some of them start "swimming upside down." No doubt they might have enjoyed a better/longer life if I wasn't clueless. But experience is one way to move from clueless to knowledgeable.

If I were doing aquaponics again from scratch, I would:

1) Make sure my system was assembled, with the water conditioned and all components clean of any potential contaminants.

2) Make sure I had a system that would feed the fish as often as they needed, accounting both for the appetite warm water brings and the lack of appetite that comes with cold water.

3) Wait until warm weather to introduce fish to my system.

In the mean time, I've googled up how to make top rate compost out of fish. It involves unsulphered molassas and leaves/sawdust. Garden Web's article "How do you make homemade Fish/Seaweed Emulsion?" says

For fresh fish [ahem], "you need to compost it separately in a 5 gallon closeable bucket.

"Fill bucket 1/2 full with extra browns like sawdust, leaves, or straw. You can add molasses to the fishy mixture in order to build up microbes in order to speed up decomposition. The sugars will also help control odors too.

"Open the bucket and stir the fishy paste daily or every other day in order to get air in the mix for better decomposition and better aerobic microbial growth in the emulsion. Let this paste rot for at least 1-2 weeks. The browns help control offensive odors and absorb organic nitrogen from the fish so that it is not leached out or evaporated.

"You can now safely take the decomposed fish paste from the 5 gallon bucket and add it to your regular hot composting piles or add it to your special compost tea recipes."

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