Stan Gotlieb-I Am What I Eat: Meat_

I Am What I Eat:  Meat!

Have I said this before? CRO [a communal farm I lived on briefly in the ’70s] was not your average commune. For one thing, there was no one thing at the center (or anywhere I could find) of our community that we could all agree on. No “line”. No ideal. No maximum leader. Just a bunch of bozos doing their best to get along, and most often just agreeing to disagree and get on with it, whatever “it” happened to be.

      Just as we were divided into “free-sexers” and “monogamists”; “dopies”, “drinkers” and “straights”; so we were divided on the issue of diet. When most of our hippy brethren were discovering the wonders of soy and macrobiotics, CRO was raising beef and pork for the communal dinner table, although there was a small but significant (in our hearts) minority who eschewed eating flesh.

      There was always enough non-meat food to satisfy our veggie contingent, and everyone got along quite well around this issue. However, some of our distant communal relations found it quite disconcerting to dine with us as the smell of roasting meat wafted out of our two eye-level built-in broiler ovens. Those brazen enough to lecture us about our eating habits were soon mau-mau’ed by — our vegetarians, who agreed with the rest of us that it was bad manners to lecture ones’ host about his/her habits. The rest of us got quite a chortle out of hearing someone who had never so much as touched an egg in her life asking a visitor how she/he would like it if we came to his/her commune and lectured them about killing bean sprouts (who were so defenseless they couldn’t even squeal when they felt the knife go through them).

      On the afternoon in question, we were cooking a couple of haunches from a recently slaughtered pig in our big ovens. By the time the first one was ready, all the commune’s meat eaters were gathered in our large kit-chen, salivating, with a fork and knife in hand. When the haunch was placed on the big butcher block in the middle of the kitchen, we all began to carve on it and eat, standing right there, talking and joking, and having a wonderful carnivorous time.

      Just then, a van drove in with California plates. It was two old pals from Minnesota, ex-carnivores who were into strict macrobiotics. We were glad to see them, but they were a little conflicted: being kissed by an old lover whose mouth was dripping meat juice was probably a mixed experience. They were smart enough not to say anything negative about our eating habits, but I could tell they were more than a little uncomfortable with watching their cannibal friends eating their brother the pig.

      They had scored a liquid gram of “pure” LSD in Berkeley, were on their way to Portland to sell it, and thought it would be fun to stop and share some with us. Many of the folks were pleased to do so.

      The dosers had a pipette that was used for measuring micro amounts of chemicals. They calculated the amount that would be needed for a “standard” 100 microgram dose, which they dropped into glasses and cups of various liquids.

      Unfortunately, they had dropped a decimal point, and instead of 100, everyone — including them — got ten times as much as they had bargained for. The results were, predictably, a commune running wild with the temporarily insane. Fortunately for the group as a whole, enough people had refused for one reason or another, that the ones who were dosed had “keepers”: as in keeping them from burning the place down.

      Five of us, including me and Ellen, had declined to partake, because we were on a diplomatic mission: dinner with a troupe of New York street theater folk who had settled on a nearby farm. We left shortly thereafter, with another haunch about to come out of the oven. When we returned a few hours later, it was raining, and had been for some time. Suddenly, out from the woods next to the driveway, sprang two very wet looking forms, probably human. As we drew closer, we could see that it was our friends from Berkeley. The driver stopped the car and rolled down the window. The two of them stuck their heads in and looked around. Their eyes were huge. They were shivering; soaked to the skin.

      “Are you going to eat us, now?” asked one of them. The driver, who like the rest of us had no idea what was going on back home, answered “Naw, we’re still full from dinner. Maybe later.” They turned and ran screaming back into the woods. They did not emerge again until the next morning

Stan Gotlieb and Diana Ricci (photographer) produce the “Oaxaca / Mexico Newsletter”, more memoir, and other works at

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