Once we accept that living takes life, we can begin doing vitally important work: ensuring that farm animals and wild animals have the opportunity to lead a good life and die a good death.
We need to approach the body of a slaughtered animal more holistically, ecologically, consciously, and spiritually. We have to witness the lives and the deaths of farm animals, and to be less squeamish about the truth of what happens to them.
Last year I had the opportunity to go to a local farm and kill a chicken myself. Then I scalded it and plucked it and gutted it. The next day I ate it. I learned a great deal by doing that, and it helped me to accept the mortality of the process. I will never look at a chicken the same way again, now that I know each step involved between a feathered clucking being running around the barnyard and the pink plucked headless body you see in the store. We are so divorced in this culture from all of these steps. This disconnection is a big part of what makes it seem possible to step outside the cycle of life and death and be free from the karma of killing for our food. But a life lived on the farm or in the forest will teach you otherwise.
On the Blood Moon, may we say a heartfelt prayer for all the animals that are being raised in inhumane conditions. May we give great thanks for the farmers and ranchers who treat their animals with respect and honor and who care deeply for their welfare. May we take the time to seek out sources of animal foods that are raised with respect for the environment, for our health, and for the well-being of the animals themselves. May there come a day when factory farms have been replaced with small-scale, integrated, holistic family farms where all living things are recognized as the gifts that they surely are. May there be a day when Americans have acquired the adult knowledge that all life is dependent upon all other life in an endless circle of giving and receiving, birth and death, growth and decay, rebirth and regeneration. May we find ourselves humble as we contemplate the miracle of life, and of the Life that transcends death. That would make our ancestors proud. Lamb Chops with Meyer Lemon and Mint Gelée Serves 4–6 Lamb and mint are a classic combination. You don’t have to use Meyer lemon for this, but it’s nice. You may need to adjust the amount of Sucanat for the degree of sweetness you want. Gelée 4 large sprigs of fresh spearmint, 5–6 inches long 1 organic Meyer (or other) lemon, washed ¾ cup filtered water 2 teaspoons Bernard Jensen’s gelatin (see page 315) or 1 teaspoon Knox gelatin 1 tablespoon Sucanat or Rapadura ¼ teaspoon salt 1. Pull the leaves off the sprigs of mint. 2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off two or three strips of the lemon peel about 2 inches long. Put the lemon peel and mint stems into a small pan. 3. Add the water to the pan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. 4. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Remove the mint stems and lemon peel with a slotted spoon. Add the gelatin to the liquid and stir to dissolve. Pour into a bowl. 5. Add the Sucanat and salt. 6. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the mixture. Allow the mixture to cool. 7. Mince the mint leaves. When the mixture is near room temperature, add the mint to the mixture and stir well. 8. Place the mixture in the fridge and allow it to chill until set—at least an hour. 9. Stir before serving so it is less like Jello and more like a gelée. Lamb Chops Sea salt Freshly ground pepper 1 teaspoon or so minced fresh rosemary 2–4 pounds bone-in lamb chops, figuring at least ½ pound per person, depending on appetites 1–2 tablespoons tallow or other fat 1. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and minced rosemary over both sides of the lamb chops. 2. Heat the tallow or other fat in a castiron skillet over medium-high heat. 3. When the fat is hot, put the lamb chops in the pan in a single layer. Brown until dark brown, then turn over and brown on the other side. You can test the doneness of the chops by pressing with your finger. If they are soft, then they are rare; hard chops are more cooked. I like them rare. You can also cut into them with a sharp knife to see the color inside. 4. Serve the lamb chops with a large dollop of the mint gelée. Jessica Prentice’s Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection, is available now.