Pets or meat? P.E.I. petting farm gets flak when some goats become donair meat
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CHARLOTTETOWN — The owner of a petting farm in P.E.I. says she never expected backlash for discussing how some of her goats will be served up next week in a Charlottetown restaurant.
Flory Sanderson opened her popular Island Hill Farm to visitors four years ago but says she never disguised its main focus — raising goats for dairy and meat.
"Some happen to go to table, and I think that's A-OK," she said from the 120-hectare property in Hampshire, northwest of Charlottetown.
"It's good. I think we need to teach our kids where your food comes from because it's the next generation that is going to change how we see food, and how we eat."
Vegans and some parents have criticized Sanderson since she mentioned on Facebook that Charlottetown's Terre Rouge eatery would feature her goat meat in donairs.
Sanderson said all her animals are raised humanely with care. About 10 of her 100 goats are sold each year for consumption, depending on demand. They are killed off-site by local butchers.
Sanderson said goats sold for meat are often too aggressive to interact with visitors and tend to be males aged nine months to two years. Females are kept for dairy and other products, including homemade soaps.
Sanderson stressed that the farm's best known goats are there to stay. They include the affectionate Bella — with her own social media hashtag #bellahugs — and Valerie, an orphaned goat that joined country music crooner Brett Kissel on stage last February during his swing through the province.
Corona, a nine-month-old male that Sanderson saved from a meat farm last spring, will also remain at the farm.
"You can't keep them all," she said. "Lots go for pets," but others will continue to be sold for meat, she added.
The roast meat pita sandwiches with garlic sauce will be served for lunch at Terre Rouge starting next week.
Goat meat from Sanderson's farm is also served at Taste of India, another restaurant in Charlottetown.
"It's illogical to bring children to ... petting farms that are essentially disguising real farms, get them to fall in love with these animals, teach them to be kind to them, then turn around and kill the animal needlessly," said one comment on Sanderson's Facebook feed.
"What kind of message is that sending?"
Lucy Morrow, the chef at Terre Rouge, said she can understand why some people are upset. Still, it's a chance to teach children where meat comes from, she said. She also noted that Sanderson has received overwhelming support from many local people and farmers across Canada.
"Terre Rouge is totally farm to table. That means we have to get our meat from farms."
"I know her," Morrow said of Sanderson. "I've been to the farm, I've petted the goats, I grew up on a farm. She's an incredible person.
"Instead of saying, 'Oh, these children are petting the goats and unbeknownst to them they're killed and eaten,' I think that's a great opportunity to introduce kids to the idea of a life cycle. If they're not OK with knowing a goat died to eat meat, then maybe this is their opportunity to say, hey, I want to be a vegetarian. And that's totally fine."
—By Sue Bailey in St. John's, N.L.
Follow @suebailey on Twitter.