An Education for Carnivores
I'm the captain of a local university association of serious student "foodies" interested in doing a road trip in Michigan to help us get a better sense of where great meat comes from and how it's made.
Most of us agree that one really important part of every serious meat-eater's education is to witness the slaughter and butchering of an animal. Now, don't get me wrong -- this isn't an experience that I expect to particularly enjoy -- but I think it's a fact that every carnivore should face. If the animal is well-raised, killed humanely, and butchered under good conditions, I think it could really make a difference in how my fellow students and I value the quality and origins of our meats in the future.
So, to cut to the chase: I'm looking for a place (preferably a farm) somewhere within a day's drive of Ann Arbor where about 12 students could show up and get some instruction on how an animal is slaughtered and butchered from someone who knows about real, organic, hands-on farming. We would be open to any kind of animal -- chicken, lamb, beef, pork. In an ideal world, we would be able to get close enough to smell and get a sort of "hands-on" experience. We would be willing to pay for the meat and the experience -- we're students though, so we're not rich.
Basically, I'm just trying to get a sense for what kind of options are out there, and how feasible this is. It seems to me to be the kind of thing that any small farmer would enjoy: sharing his trade and knowledge with a bunch of inquisitive city folk, who will probably after that ONLY buy grass-fed organic meats.
So, if anyone has ideas along these lines, or knowledge of who I might speak with, please let me know. I'm still sort of brain-storming this idea, so other thoughts are welcome as well.
If your school has a school of agriculture, you might want to check with them. They might be able to suggest who to contact.
Meat sold to the public has to be slaughtered in a government-approved facility. Can't imagine they'd let the public in the door. You might be able to find a local chef who breaks down primal cuts who'd be glad to talk to your group. I know a couple who would do this, but I'm in Bloomington, IN. Surely Ann Arbor has several chefs who would be interested.
A couple of years ago, a food writer/reporter ifor the Chicago Tribune wrote a story of her experiences witnessing activity in slaughterhouses for similar reasons to what you expressed. If you want to Google it, look for "Morality Bites" by Monica Eng (I don't know if linking to newspaper articles is allowed on Chowhound).