Think like an Animal

As human beings, it's easy to put ourselves in the shoes of other human beings. When we see someone crying we feel there pain, when we see someone laughing, we can vicariously understand that same feeling of joy. Doing so with animals, however, is much more complicated. It takes decades of studying and understanding to gain insight into the ways in which animals think and comprehend the world around them. A recent study conducted on dolphin communication using data collected over a 25 year period helped scientists determine that when separated dolphins call out to each other using specified 'name' calls.

The research has astounding implications on human-animal interactions. We as humans are a young species and have much to learn about the world we inhabit. Making assumptions about different species is ignorant and unsafe. Temple Grandin, a world renowned professor and animal scientist, approaches her subject matter (in this case cattle) from a scientific standpoint but also from an animalistic stand point. The later of the two is extremely important and often overlooked in her field. When trying to comprehend what cattle go through in large scale meat processing operations she goes inside to examine factory interiors. Understanding the meat processing experience from a 1,200 pound steer's perspective is a fundamental part of what Temple does. She talks about distractions in processing plants that she visited: coats, shadows and sounds that could have frightened cattle. She understands cattle on a holistic level and not simply as a commodity. Viewing cattle as individual animals instead of masses of meat is crucial to changing the American perspective on food.

This brings us back to one of our focal points touched on throughout the Young Farmer Screening Series, which is getting to know your farmer and your food. When people buy packaged beef from the grocery store, they are so far removed from where the beef actually came from it's easy to look the other way and buy value beef over humanely/sustainably raised beef. Getting back in touch with where our food comes from is vital to bringing us back to the way our grandparents used to eat. Understanding that a cow is a cow and not simply food will bring greater appreciation for what is on our plates along with the people who helped put it there.

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