Subscribe for 17¢ / day

Food was produced Wednesday at the PEAS farm in the Rattlesnake Valley.

Because that food was the result of the death of three pigs, a small furor mostly started by one neighbor ensued.

And that meant farm director Josh Slotnick spent most of Thursday on the phone, talking in part about the way Americans receive and perceive their food.

"It's been exhausting, but maybe something good can come from it," Slotnick said.

Although the farm, a product of the nonprofit Garden City Harvest, primarily grows vegetables, the group also raised pigs the past four years.

On Wednesday, three pigs raised since birth at the farm were killed. Meat from one pig is already sold to a neighbor; one will be donated to the Missoula Food Bank, and the last will go into the farm freezer.

"This is what it takes to make food," said Slotnick, who also teaches at the University of Montana. "We have become so very disconnected from our food sources, but this is how food is made."

A problem arose when a woman who lives on Duncan Drive called police to report that someone at the farm was shooting pigs.

That much was true. Slotnick said he had a friend with extensive experience in raising pigs come to kill the animals, which weighed an average of 270 pounds. It's also true, that even though pigs have been shot in previous years at the farm, they probably shouldn't have been because city ordinances forbid discharging a firearm in the city limits.

In past years, the pigs' deaths haven't caused a problem. But this year, the farm has a new neighbor, and she didn't take kindly to the process.

"Basically we had a call about shooting in the city limits in regards to pigs," said police Lt. Mike Brady. "We talked to the farm manager, and it was over by that time."

Because a gun was fired, the police are investigating, said Brady, but that's the end of police interest in the incident.

"This is what happens on farms, but the problem here is shooting in the city," Brady said.

Slotnick took full responsibility for that.

"I should have realized that we are inside the city limits," he said. "But this is the way we've always done it, and it just didn't occur to me."

That said, Slotnick said the farm is a real-world place that reflects the truth of where food comes from.

"There is a sadness to it when it comes to killing animals, and there's no getting around it," he said. "We understand and accept that that is a huge responsibility."

And he understands that a neighbor's concerns need to be listened to.

"This farm is in a neighborhood and that creates some beauty and it creates some pretty harsh juxtapositions," Slotnick said. "Most of us just aren't that familiar with where our food really comes from."

The farm serves a dual function - it provides food to the Missoula Food Bank and other food providers, and it serves an educational role for Missoula students.

Part of that role is acquainting students with the reality of food.

"Most of our food comes from an average of 1,500 miles away," said Slotnick. "The farm is a place where kids can see exactly how food is made."

And sometimes that includes death. Slotnick said the PEAS farm understands the gravity of the equation that turns animals into food.

"No one here takes that lightly," he said. "No one here is not tuned into the reality of what it means to eat meat. And that's why we try to do it with the most dignity we can."

To that end, the PEAS farm's pigs live outside, eating leftover food from the University of Montana and Rattlesnake Elementary School.

"These are not pigs raised in an industrial setting," Slotnick said. "These pigs are raised with care, but the reality of it is that they are raised as meat. That can be harsh, but this is reality."

0
0
0
0
0