I do not begrudge the fact that I grew up in rural Montana, or try to pretend it never happened. Many of the lessons that cities had to teach me in adulthood were put in a certain perspective given that rural upbringing, and I wouldn’t trade what I have learned from both to only have a mind full of memories from one. Country life has different things to teach than city life, and I continue to feel that they each have a lot to offer. Even if the main thing that we learn by changing our environment is that people vary a lot more widely than we once supposed, it’s a valuable thing to learn.
One of those variances is how food is viewed, in the many stages it must exist before it makes it into a person’s belly. It was strange to move into an area where almost no one I met had any experience in hunting or gardening, as was realizing that many people found one repugnant while seeing the other as a hobby usually dedicated to growing flowers that no one ate.
During the decades I have lived in or near large cities, this awareness has shifted considerably. On one hand, there are more food gardens in American cities now than there were back then; people have gotten interested in organic produce, and the only way to really guarantee that all of the ingredients used to grow your fruits and vegetables is natural is to do it yourself. Labels can be misleading, as can words like ‘organic’; but we’ll talk more about that later.
Right now, it’s time to talk about hunting.
If you don’t eat meat, this still relates to you. Even if you don’t eat any kind of meat-related products, this relates to you. If you grew up without ever once eating meat, and have always eaten only food that your family cultivated…first of all, you’re probably pretty low on the micro-nutrients that many of us built up in childhood and that later made it easy for us to go vegetarian or vegan for awhile. Second, this still relates to you. Even if you are living the ideal of a vegan lifestyle and managing to stay healthy, you are only doing so by eating life. It’s how things work, here on Earth.
I’ll go you one further, and acknowledge that there is such a thing as a fruitarian…if you’ll acknowledge that you would rather be plucked in your prime and eaten rather than left to live past your physical peak in peace. Plants have an emotional life, just like people and animals; the fact that we can’t hear their protestations as we take their life doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to give them voice. It’s why other plants around them act defensively, and go so far as to change their chemical makeup to ward off predation with bad taste or thorny spines or poison.
The truth is, none of us like to be eaten.
Be that as it may, life must eat life. At this point it comes down to the way our food lives before it dies, and the question becomes centered on whether it is better to be farmed or free before it becomes someone’s meal. Even if it’s free, it will eventually become someone’s meal: a predator will take it down, or a scavenger will pick its bones clean, or flies will lay eggs in it that become hungry maggots whose primary diet is rotting flesh.
Gross, right? It’s true, though; even taking the essential fluids from a corpse to make sure it doesn’t come back to life, and locking it in a box to keep it from returning if it does, only forestalls the nasty encroachment of decay. Mostly, it just keeps the dead from coming back to life.
The money that has saved a number of countless species from extinction in the United States has come from hunting tags. These tags are issued in certain areas where the populations of specific species have expanded beyond the sustainability of their environment. Traditionally, the tags have focused on balance: that means issuing a certain number of tags for predatory animals, and for certain species that certain people don’t think it’s right to hunt.
That’s why, when a mountain lion or wolf or coyote are caught and examined near urban areas, their bellies are invariably full of the flesh of domestic dogs and cats. Chickens get eaten, too; but most people in America eat them on a regular basis, so it’s hard to get folks riled up about that. There is a hierarchy there, that tells us that some animals are edible while others are our friends.
I guess we really are all racist, in the true definition of the word.
The less we let hunters do the job they have quietly and thanklessly done almost since the beginning in our country, the more our pets will get eaten by animals that are not being hunted anymore. The more steps we put between us and our food, the more questionable that food source invariably becomes. There’s undoubtedly good reason why there are laws preventing the people eating factory farmed food in America from seeing inside these facilities, while millions of Americans watch hunting shows on television and online.
Maybe you don’t think people should keep pets, or maybe you think it’s no big deal when one gets eaten. Forgive me if I don’t freak out when this gets to the point where other people’s children are being eaten, then; I’m much more attached to my pets than I am to their kids, and there are a lot more kids in this country than we need grownups tomorrow to hand it over to. And make no mistake; if we don’t handle the human or the predator overpopulation problem, these problems will inevitably interact in the most horrifying fashion.
One last thing to ponder, or maybe two.
First, elk and deer meat are some of the most nutritious and delicious foods out there. It can be argued that their freedom causes that, or that nature has designed the harder meat to get to be more nutritionally rewarding.
Second, many animals eat babies. Black bears are notorious for seeking out baby black bears when they come out of hibernation, because they know they are easy prey. If they’ll eat their own babies, you can be sure they wouldn’t hesitate to eat ours.
We don’t have to worry about people eating their babies until they find themselves in a strict socialist regime. There were signs in Russia, when socialism was as its peak presence there, reminding people that it was wrong to eat their babies. I guess hunger brings out the worst in everyone. Or maybe black bears are just good socialists.
I’m mostly pescatarian, by the way. After trying both vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, I found that the best results for my particular body came from a diet with a lot of dairy and fish once or twice a week. My reasons for choosing my diet were selfish, as is everyone’s reason for choosing their diet. Even if you believe that some enlightened people don’t consume any type of physical sustenance, you have to admit that they always say they eat cosmic energy. They also always say that they did it to prove a point, or to show the starving masses that this miracle is possible.
Sounds like a pretty selfish reason to eat nothing, to me.
We should talk about that, before anyone gets confused and thinks that I’m unclear about the definition of the word ‘selfish’. If you’ve read much of my stuff, or if you know me personally, then you know I have strong feelings about that word. Hopefully you’ll want to come back next week, either way, because that’s what we’ll be talking about. Call me strange, but I think it’s important to realize that there is at least one commonality that we all share…
Everyone is selfish!
I’m looking forward to that one, and I hope you are too!
Thanks for reading!
All the best,