On our way to Saison Market for sticky cinnamon buns and brie and pear focaccia, we passed the Mays Road farm where the cows sit right next to the road. They’re always there: big, brown, lazy beasts that inspire gleeful shouts from the inhabitants of two car seats in the back of our van, “Cows!”. The old farmer, dressed in grungy jeans and plaid shirt, is often seen driving his old tractor around his fields. It’s just like a scene from a movie.
This day was a special one. A newborn calf stood not 10 feet from the road, inside the wire fence. He was so new there was still wet mucous and blood dripping from his hide (sorry if that sounds gross but it wasn’t). Mama Cow stood a few feet away from him, exhausted (I may be projecting).
The bewildered calf stared at the few of us who stopped our cars to take a look at Mother Nature in action. “You don’t see that everyday,” the man in the truck next to us said. I’ve seen two brand-new babies in my life, but never a calf. It was a beautiful thing.
And nothing like a scene from the movie Food Inc. In it, they show a panoramic view of agricultural fields as far as the eye can see. In these fields are hundreds of thousands of cows, crammed together, standing in mud. They are fed corn, not grass (apparently it matters!), and bred for slaughter by the major food companies, like fast-food restaurants. The condition in which these cows are raised is on the opposite end of the quality-of-life spectrum than that of our newborn calf in his pastoral field, watched over by a sole hard-working farmer.
So the next day I shopped at the Meat Market for locally raised meat, and the Old Farm Market for Cowichan Valley veggies. The meat costs more, so we’re eating less — which is really the whole point, isn’t it?