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The Questionable Ethics Of Home Slaughter

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Lately, it seems like everyone and their mom is getting involved with the homebrewing, home canning, home curing, and home-growing movements. But what about home slaughtering?

The grisly-sounding practice is gaining ground among a certain set. In an article calling out the DIY crowd for their potentially careless behavior, Slate writer James McWilliams describes this contingent as "hip urban dwellers intent on controlling the food they eat." Though on the surface this sounds like a crunchy good time, McWilliams points out that this fad is actually "rife with trouble."

While I don't agree with every one of McWilliams points—is it really such a huge problem that urban bloggers are making bad chicken puns?—his main objection is that many urban farmers lack the training to properly slaughter an animal. He also points out that many seem to view killing chickens as a thrill-seeking sport, an idea that sends shivers up my spine—as does the description of one blogger cutting off the head of a chicken with a pair of garden shears. With stunts like that, DIY slaughter can seem less like an empowering alternative to mass produced food and more like an expression of good old fashioned bloodlust.

Finally, McWilliams suggests that maybe one of the problems with urban farming can be found right there in the name. Urban gardens are all well and good, but many neighborhoods don't have the space to properly raise livestock. Though there is a certain romanticism about producing all your own food, maybe there are some practices that should be left to the professionals—and some animals that should be left on the farm.

The Butcher Next Door from Slate

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Comments (3)


about 3 years ago tasia

Poorly written, inadequately researched, and incredibly one-sided.


about 3 years ago Katy K

I actually agree! I think McWilliams is touching on something important—because people shouldn't be slaughtering animals without training!—but he wastes far too much time talking about hipsters. I think it's a really interesting topic though, and one definitely worth exploring.


about 3 years ago withinseason

I dunno. There really isn't much discussion of ethics in the Slate article. It's like McWilliams did a google search for hipster and chicken and spun it in into a 1500 word article. So, what, is making fun of hipsters the meta-hipster move now? The article seems much more about how superior he is to hipsters than it is about ethics and butchering. Not that any of the things he mentions are good, but the article does a piss poor job of diagnosing why that's the case.