This is a story about being honest about where your meat comes from as well as about what a great wife I am. I have no doubt you will be extolling my virtues by the end of this story.
As for the first part, when I started eating meat about 8 years ago after 12 years of strict vegetarianism and 3 years of eating seafood, I decided I could deal with eating animals if I knew where they came from and how they were raised. I called it being honest with my food. I started with wild game - caribou in Alaska (see pic at left) and moved on from there. Then I met a very cool rancher, Will Harris, and started eating his grass-fed beef. Now I have sources for pigs, chickens, and cows but still prefer to eat wild game.
So yesterday my husband wakes up and randomly decides he’s going to check out our back woods for a deer. It is buck season around here and so far he has been unsuccessful, despite trips to several hunting spots. I have never seen a buck on our property, though I’ve seen many does and yearlings. Ten minutes later I hear a resounding BOOM! Sure enough, Ryan got a buck on his first try hunting on our small property, right out back by our burn barrel. Comments of rednecking-it aside, that’s some local meat!
The morning progressed in a very elemental way as you might imagine. There were organs, intestines, and a head to remove. We had to hang the boy up in a tree to skin him. As much as I wanted to shirk from my responsibilities, I also needed to accept the process of where the venison in my freezer originates. So many of us are far, far removed from knowing how our food gets on our plate. By the way, I chose a sterile picture to show you here, we have some that are much, much more graphic as you might imagine. It is my Xmas present to you!
Its a fine line with a toddler. I’ve always told Skyla that her beef is from one of Mr. Will’s cows or that the ham she is eating is pig. But I don’t think she understands yet that the animal had to die in order for her to eat it. Questions like “but is that chicken happy I am eating it?” emphasize that idea. A deer being ‘processed’ (such a clean and sterile word isn’t it?) in the backyard might bring home that fact so how should we handle it?
We didn’t make a big deal of it and she just played outside with us. So far there have not been any probing questions but I am wondering what will come up next time we eat venison — “Is this from the deer in our backyard?”
So by now you are probably thinking, wow your husband is awesome (which he is), why are you bragging about what a great wife you are? Well here it is…
Last night at dinner as we sat in the glow from our Xmas tree and our holiday lights eating our dinner, my husband wanted to give me the play by play of the actual hunting experience. I just sat there as he discussed the visceral details of hunting and the last breaths of our animal, the field dressing and processing, the smell of blood under his fingernails. And he is a very detailed story teller. Am I supportive or what?!?!
Good thing we were eating a vegetarian meal!