For many weeks now I have been excited about applying for an Livestock Internship with Stone Barns Agricultural Center. On their website they advertise the position with the teaser, "Interns may also learn the skills necessary to harvest poultry as well as butchering sheep and swine for retail sales through the Center's farm market".
Now, it may seem inconsistent, given my recent transition to a vegan diet (I'll always cheat for pancakes!) that I would find this attractive. However, I figured that if I was going to cut something out of my life, I better know as much about it as possible. I am incredibly ignorant about where food comes from, and so are most people with whom I talk about food. I want to know how to butcher swine, to confront bodily the reality of our food, even a part that I don't take advantage of any longer ('cept for pancakes).
I also figured this spring would be the perfect opportunity - when else would I be able to get college credit for playing with animals and then butchering them?
Then last night, I very suddenly realized how much I was romanticizing this internship. I had pictured driving my car from Wisconsin to New York, so I could drive the twenty minutes from SLC to the Farm two days a week. Slinging slop with other kids, slipping in pig shit and laughing it off with my fellow interns. Learning how a farm operates from the inside out.
It's not that I no longer think that this would be a valuable experience - I just realized how much it would suck. Let's think: The internship starts in January, so I wouldn't be slipping in pig shit, so much as breaking my butt bone on ice made of pig shit.
Additionally, internships are what you make them. So, when the Stone Barns website says, "interns may also learn...", what they really mean to say is if you show a lot of initiative and bug them incessantly, they may or may not give you the opportunity. Ask yourself, would you really have the cojones to ASK to castrate a pig?
I wish I did. Today at the coffeeshop, the debate started to take form in my brain as a battle of idealism Vs. reality. Reality says, "You should probably take advantage of the opportunities your professor is giving your class in terms of radio internships for the Spring. That's a viable career path and not completely incoherent with your college curriculum". But idealism says, "You want to know how to butcher a pig! Face your fears and be true to your heart."
The logic that said I should take advantage the opportunity to get college credit for butchering animals, now also says I should take advantage of performing unpaid slave labor (cough, internship) during college when its not instead of having a real job.