Probably unthinkable for most Americans, and to be honest, not necessarily a good idea—even in theory.
The potential problems with food-safety and accident or injuries alone would argue against most people deciding to become weekend ranchers and meatpackers.
But consider for a moment another food-related industry responsible for a product consumed by a large percentage of adults, if not as many as the overwhelming majority who eat meat and poultry. I’m talking about beer breweries.
Once upon a time in the distant past—the 1980s—the typical beer drinker basically had two choices: You could purchase bottles or cans of light, fizzy “American-style” lagers, or shell out for expensive, hard-to-find imports that were often months old and less-than palatable by the time they reached the shelves in some small deli or specialty grocery.
Then came a technological revolution that launched the brew pubs and small specialty breweries that began crafting a whole new generation of hearty, flavorful beers that mimicked the best European imports. In the space of a few short years, the brands, choices and quality options available virtually everywhere alcoholic beverages were sold expanded dramatically.
Home brewing of beer (and wine) was always a small-scale sideline indulged in by thousands of aficionados, but the arrival of advanced technology that allowed hundreds of commercial operators to enter the industry changed forever the beer-drinking public’s preferences and purchase patterns—for the better, most people would agree.
Clearing a high bar
What if a similar scenario could take place in animal husbandry? What if “ordinary” people—at least those with the wherewithal, financial and otherwise, that mirrors the entrepreneurs who launched so many of the regional breweries—could begin raising livestock and marketing meat products? Would such a development help expand the marketplace for meat products, perhaps even lend a certain cachet to eating meat that has been lost in the industrial scale of modern production and processing?
I have to believe it could.
Of course, the bar is raised quite a bit higher in terms of raising animals and butchering them for consumption, versus buying sacks of barley and hops and dumping them into a fermentation tank. Plenty of people have started commercial beer-making operations in their garages. But even a small-scale production and butchering program would require far more knowledge, regulatory compliance and capital investment.