Temple Grandin (university professor and autistic animal behavior guru) speak to a packed crowd at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. She's on tour for her new book, Animals Make Us Human, just released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Dot #2. In response to a question from the audience about the meaning of "organic" meat, Dr. Grandin posed an interesting question: Should the designation "organic" take into consideration not only take what the animal eats, but also the animal's lifestyle? Grandin thinks it should. “It's not enough to say that beef cattle are on pasture, but 75% of that pasture must have a root system. The animal must be on that pasture at least from the last hard frost to the first hard frost."
Dot #4. In response to a question from the audience about the time Dr. Grandin took a bunch of executives from McDonalds and Burger King out to actually see the slaughter plants where company burgers come from, she told us, “I call it opening the eyes of executives.” She went on to say, “We have people making policy in every area of our lives who don’t go out into the field. It’s a problem…extreme views tend to come from people who have no field experience. Views are usually more moderate coming from people who have had hands-on experience.”
article by reporter Lisa Ryckman about four high school kids from a tiny Colorado ranching town (pop 330) who are heading to the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC. Charlie’s parents talk politics a lot, except when there’s ranch work to be done, which is “16 hours a day, 7 days a week.” According to Ryckman, when Charlie, 18, invites his friends to come hang out with him for the day, they know they’ll probably be “helping me put up fence or vaccinate cows.”
Connecting the Dots. Developing a holistic view requires first looking at the parts, which for me means asking a lot of questions. What does a rancher out on the land doing “field work” have to do with the election of President Obama? How did Barrack inspire such an unprecedented grassroots movement? Is it surprising that a nation, fed up with politicians and CEOs who have no understanding of the average American’s lifestyle, find Obama’s thoughtful and intelligent demeanor appealing? Is it surprising that young people rallied around him in unprecedented numbers?
“We need to hear from the young people out there doing field work,” Temple Grandin told the audience.
When Charlie heads to DC for the inauguration, he’ll be taking with him a deeply rooted, organic understanding of the grassland-economy of eastern Colorado. He knows what it takes to keep a cow healthy, what it takes to keep the grass growing, and what it takes to put food on the table.
According to Ryckman's article, Charlie plans to attend the University of Colorado, where he’ll be studying aerospace engineering. He hopes to get a job which will make enough money that he can put some of his earnings back into the family ranch.
I hope he makes it. And I hope that when he gets to Washington he’ll share a little bit about his grassroots lifestyle with some of the city folk. Our nation needs to hear from young people like Charlie who were raised watching the sun rise and set on the far horizon. The future of the land may depend on it.
Page Lambert reared her son and daughter on a small family ranch in Wyoming and is a Senior Associate with the Children and Nature Network. More about the relationship between grazing animals and the land at Holistic Management. More about the movement to reconnect children with nature at Children and Nature. More about autism diagnosis at the National Autism Association.