Wherever you look now, the virtue of fresh, locally grown vegatables is enthusiastically encouraged, and rightly so. We have tried to supplement our diet with as much of our own produce and foraged food as possible, over the past few years, certain times of the year we have had fresh fruit and vegatables in abundance but the one thing we have never been able to supply ourselves with is meat. Our garden is too small to rear any animals and I don’t have a licience or the experience to go out and shoot or catch my own. The urban downsizer then needs to look further a field for a supply of fresh local or wild meat.
this rabbit was shot locally
In an urban environment, it’s the butcher that decides what meat is available, where it’s from and the price. I never feel I have little say in the matter if I want local organic meat I have to shop somewhere else. Should then the urban downsizer be denied a connection with their food or be without the rich variety of wild meat?
My answer is most definatly, no, if any of the country’s population can benifit from the experience of wild food in general, it’s the supermarket generation. I don’t mean that we should all buy a shotgun and go on bus trips to the countryside blasting everything that moves because we don’t know a rabbit from a postbox. When we picked up four pheasants yesterday the first thing our son said was “are we going to eat them, but there dead!”
The need for a closer relationship to our food has never been so important.
We can’t all eat wild food all of the time, but for it to be added to our diet occasionally not only lets us eat the ultimate in free range organic produce but helps is bridge the gap between live animal and a bowl of rabbit stew. For me being more involved in the process from dispatch to plate, and not just wild meat but reared livestock too, has taught me to have far more respect for my food, to waste less and to see meat as part of a process not just part of a meal.
I also have the chance to be involved in the environment from which the animal was a part of, I can make that environment better by keeping it tidy and making as little disturbance as possible. There is little chance these days to be part of the process of what we eat, so any chance we have,should be taken.
The problem however is the ability to source such produce, like I mentioned before I would never suggest that you should go out and try and catch it yourself without the proper experience and permission. Not everybody knows somebody who shoots or a game keeper, but these are not the only way to be involved in the food cycle. Before I got to know various country types, I would ask anybody who kept chickens or any livestock if I could lend a hand, or even visiting some farmers markets or organic farms where they kept animals. Most people are glad of a little help, and you don’t have to comit to hours of work, just one day can be so rewarding and informative. The first time I collected eggs from a chicken coop I was 27 but as excited as a kid at christmas, it really is worth it.
Since then I’ve looked after chickens, fed and been chased by cows, hearded geese, fed lambs, pigs and helped a game keeper stack pheasants on racks in a cold store. I’ve never been paid for any of it and would not want to be, it was fun and rewarding but more importantly it has given me a relationship to my food. We may not all be able to get hold of wild meat but we can make an effort to be more involved in the meat we do eat than just picking up a lump of flesh in the supermarket.