My pandemic project ended up being more unconventional than most. (I tried sourdough at the beginning, but forgot the starter in the fridge until last week.) As an anti-factory-farming activist, I found myself drawn to alternative food sources. I began raising and processing rabbits for meat and fur.
Rabbits are a rare meat here in the States, but in other countries such as France, they’re a dietary staple as regular as roast chicken. Once you start raising them, it isn’t hard to see why. There are a lot of upsides.
They breed like, well, rabbits. At max rotation, three rabbits (one buck, two does) can provide up to 300 pounds of meat per year. That’s just a little over what the average American adult eats annually (about 264 pounds, according to the University of Illinois).
They’re compact. I raise my rabbits in nine-square-foot hutches for each adult, and usually only put two or three of the babies into each hutch maximum, which still gives them plenty of room. In total, the top amount of space taken up when we’ve got a litter or two of babies is around 72 square feet of backyard space.
They’re pretty dang good (and good for you). It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Rabbits taste like chicken, specifically rich dark meat. They also have lower fat content than chickens, so they’re a great protein-rich addition to a salad or sandwich!
Raising your meat is direct action. What’s a more direct way to protest the system than by seizing the means of (rabbit) production? There’s no surer way to make sure that your meat came from a healthy, caring environment than by raising it yourself.
It’s a great way to understand the true cost of your food. This one’s a little more of a tough sell, but when you have to kill and process your meat, it gets a little more special and a little more important. It’s not just a slab of pork you picked up at the Fareway, it’s the rabbit you raised and cared for. It’s a hard feeling, but a good one.
There are a lot more benefits to raising meat yourself, but it’s just one of many ways you can take an active stand against factory farming: Vote for politicians who care about the environment, write to local officials, join an activist organization or support local organic produce and farmers.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 299.