I saw Temple Grandin speak yesterday. It was to be a gathering for around forty ranchers in Toby's Feed Barn. Instead it was moved to the Pt. Reyes middle school gym and sold out to 400 people with others wanting in. It was a benefit for MALT, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, which is a non-profit working to keep agricultural land from development. It is a practical idea and makes it easy to buy local foods around here. If there is a disaster, we have food nearby. It was also a benefit for Matrix, a parent network and resource center for those dealing with children with autism.
Temple Grandin is autistic and has had a profound affect on our world, on the humane treatment of animals. She uses the word "practical" a great deal. She was given tools for learning. She had the outlet of art, a life-saver for her, and was allowed and encouraged to build. Now, we set up committees to discuss what might be done and then there is no money for the doing which might require a very simple and inexpensive solution, a lamp here, a curve there.
On the subject of organic, non-organic, she pointed out, that here, too, we are polarized. There is a place for injections that fight parasites. Not every chicken can have a piece of land on which to roam if we are to feed everyone, but we can at least not pile cages on top of cages. We must treat animals, our food, humanely, and we must be realistic about what can be done.
She said horse slaughtering plants have now been closed in the United States and horses are no longer used for food here, but she points out that does not end the problem. They are sent to Mexico, where there may be even less oversight and regulation. She is practical in her approach, humane, yes, passionate, yes, and we need to feed as many people as possible. Her metabolism requires that she eat meat. She cannot be a vegan, and so how do we humanely process our food sources, while also balancing science, nature, and greed?
On the subject of "labeling" children, she said that half of the big-wigs in Silicon Valley, may have Asperger's. With her, it is hard to tell what is a joke but she got a big laugh. Her point is that we cherish the gifts of each child and help them find their niche. Each of us has something we do well, and that something can be found, and the child gets the feedback of success. Her parents were told there was no hope and she should be institutionalized. Instead she speaks around the world. Her books are worth seeking out.
If you are interested in learning more about her and the wonderful film with Claire Danes, go here: