Locavore: Hunting and eating locally

Most of my life, I’ve been against hunting, for emotional reasons rather than logical. In the past few years, however, as Haute Pasture has expanded my thinking, I’ve come to see hunting more practically as a source of sustainable, ethical meat. After listening to hunter and Charlottesville native (and former vegetarian) Jackson Landers speak Thursday at a Virginia Festival of the Book session called Locavore: Hunting and Eating Locally, I’m not ready to pick up a weapon myself (yet), but I’m officially a supporter of hunting for food. Below are some of Landers’ points that I found particularly convincing. How do you feel about hunting?

Jackson Landers

Jackson Landers; image from jacksonlanders.com

Hunting for food can be more sustainable than most vegetarian/vegan diets, and they share values:
  • Environment: One might walk into his backyard and shoot a deer, while commercial meat’s carbon footprint includes
    • Fuel
    • Shipping
    • Feed for animals
  • Land use: Commercial farms pollute neighboring land and waterways
    • Deer land is not dedicated to deer
    • Deer can share land for residential and transportation use (medians)
    • Deer can share public land (state/national parks)
  • Deer eat local produce (to gardeners’ chagrin); commercial farms feed their animals unnatural grain diets
  • “Blood footprint” of a soy burger can be larger than that of a venison burger
    • Soybean farms kill wildlife via chemicals and pollution, and combines kill animals in the fields during harvesting
    • Hunting a deer just kills that deer
  • Ethics: you don’t have to wonder if an animal suffered, or how it died, if you killed it yourself

In the US, a hunter may not sell venison from a deer he hunted. If you seen venison for sale in this country, it is likely from New Zealand, where it was factory farmed, grain fed, and shipped long distance. That is the opposite of hunted venison.

Landers has begun hunting for invasive species removal, what he calls the invasivore movement. Invasives are one of the main three causes of species extinction; the other two are climate change and loss of habitat. He eats what he kills and reports that most everything tastes like chicken, beef, or pork.

Some invasive plants and animals he has eaten include:

  • Kudzu: parboil young leaves and use in pesto or dolmas
  • Raccoon: tastes like roast beef
  • Lionfish: delicious
    • Interesting aside: Catfish and lionfish have the same venom. If you get stung by lionfish or catfish, warm the injured body part and the venom is rendered harmless
  • Silver carp: it tastes good and is incredibly easy to catch, as the fish literally jump into the boat, so why is creating a program to control them so difficult?
  • Deer: most bang for buck (sorry) taste- and quantity-wise
  • Pigeons: he chased them around near a playground in Central Park

He has not eaten a stinkbug, but has heard they don’t taste like they smell.

Hunting for food is a sustainable, ethical practice and I support it. If you are anti-hunting but haven’t really examined the reasons why, I encourage you to revisit the topic with yourself and see if any of the points above sway your thinking. If you’re still anti, please share why in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Locavore: Hunting and eating locally

  1. Yes, I’ve wondered about some of those aspects of hunting, and it’s interesting to see all the positives listed in one place. Plus, I have to admit I like the idea of eating the creature responsible for my spending $300+ on a @*$#&! deer fence to protect my vegetable garden!

  2. Australia desperately needs more hunting of feral animals, before the wave of plant and animal extinctions and the erosion they cause devastate our natural environment. It is a terrible waste of food if these pests are killed and their meat wasted. We need to support the harvesting of feral animals by encouraging the establishing of mobile abbattoirs, freezer trucks, and blood and bone grinding equipment to convert the waste to fertiliser. A PR campaign to educate consumers why eating ferals is tasty and good for the environment would certainly help too! I live beside the biggest State Forest in the Southern Hemisphere, and the feral pigs are destroying the waterways like bulldozers along the creek banks.

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