eating the view

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.

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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.

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20 thoughts on “eating the view

  1. Alyx says:

    Thats right – It’s about so much more than just picking something up from the shelf in your big local supermarket! (That will inevitably be the death of smaller, local suppliers if society carries on as it is doing) The more anyone can do to promote smaller local producer’s is fantastic!

  2. dibnah says:

    Sadly it has already been the death of most local producers but in the last few years there has been an increase in the number of people wanting organic local produce mainly due to TV programmes like ‘river cottage’ and jamie oliver. Farmers markets and farm shops are on the increase and the supermarkets are starting to sell local produce and more and more organic produce to keep up with demand. Could this be the end of the supermarket as we know it ?

  3. Hazel says:

    I’ve gone right off you!

  4. dibnah says:

    Sorry Hazel, but I do make the most of the meat that I eat and I always try and be as ethical as possible when buying it. I’ll never be a cheap hot-dog eater.

  5. bewing says:

    I have begun to reread Euell Gibbons
    books
    getting ready for this year’s foraging season. This statement from your post is right on.

    “The need for a closer relationship to our food has never been so important.”

  6. Hazel says:

    I’m only joking. It’s just that the vegan in me can’t get over the fact that you have these animals shot for you. But I completely agree that it’s infinitely better than buying crap factoy farmed meat from the supermarket. Much more honest than most people who buy that shit and turn a blind eye to how it got there. They wouldn’t have the courage to kill it themselves. If you can do it then go for it. It’s just me being averse to eating animals. You could forage me some mushrooms though :o)
    H. xxx

  7. dibnah says:

    I found some ‘Jews ear’ fungus yesterday I’ll post a picture.

  8. Alyx says:

    Talking of cheap meat – I myself do eat meat but on my walk to work each day have to walk past a commercially run slaughter house. It really has made me question where my meat comes from when I see, sometimes up to 3 truck loads of sheep or cows parked outside (sometimes in stifling heat when it was summer). It certainly made me stop buying cheap meat from supermarkets as I’ve seen first hand how these animals are treat in the run up to their slaughter. Going back to the change in supermarkets – I think that there is now more demand for organic / local fresh produce and do agree that this is due to certain television programmes educating the masses. Prior to this, it was just smaller communities and an ‘underground’ thing but the more the ‘super’markets start to source more local produce – the better all round. As long as they don’t go pricing smaller retailers out of the water, which is always a worry.

  9. dibnah says:

    The only way to stop that happening is not to shop there, or you could grow your own, I might change the blog title to ‘KEEP FOOD FREE ‘ what do you think?

  10. Alyx says:

    Go for it!!! I’d be up for listening about getting food for free….without maybe foraging around in bins though…Well – maybe I would????!!! I once watched this programme about this community in New York who never bought a single thing because they just went around the back of stores and foraged in bins. All the food was wrapped and had to be chucked out due to the sell by dates – but they were still fresh! I thought that that was pretty amazing. Ok – a little hard if you live in the middle of a backwards Northern City as I’d probably get my head kicked in. Anyway enough of that – I haven’t got a garden so can’t grow any veg at my house but was wondering about maybe getting some planters for outside, filling with soil and growing some (easy not to mess up stuff) there? Any suggestions? Will I now have to wait until after the frosts? I really have no idea so any suggestions would be helpful!

  11. dibnah says:

    I’ll do a post on what to do in January in the next few days.

  12. Alyx says:

    I’ll look forward to any useful tips…. cheers.

  13. bewing says:

    keep Food Free, do it.

  14. Alyx says:

    Just came across this slogan and thought it talked a lot of sense in the whole greener lifestyle we are all wanting to create….

    “Use it up. Wear it out. Make do. Or do without”

  15. Rob says:

    Supermarkets are factories for shopping, and part of an industrialised system that is also alienating in the way it industrialises people.

    Getting that connection back is vital, and in its own way is part of a growing body of people who reject the industrial system and the values it embodies.

    Plus it tastes better.

  16. dibnah says:

    I agree, and for years part of the problem in my view was the lack of community together with too few choices, I would say “if only more people thought this way” or “I would do more but there are not the opportuniites around me,” never thinking that I could be the change in attitude, I could organize and create opportunities for others. I find more people are interested in what I’m doing, now I don’t preach on about it and I feel less patronising, talking about it, now it’s just the norm and not an ideology.

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

  17. Bart says:

    Hi, I just wanna say thanks for writing down your experiences. I’m just starting to become aware of the possibility of living ‘green’. Your website is one of my startingpoints of informing/educating myself on the subject. 🙂
    Should you, or any of the readers, have any pointers for a dutch family of three who lives in an apartment building….

  18. EH says:

    where i live (midwestern US), we’ve had a resurgence of interest in locally grown produce, meat, dairy, etc. there are so many resources, but people still don’t seem to connect higher priced items with quality. or maybe giving up something purchased cheaply but often for doing with less frequency but densely nutritious (and tastier, in my opinion) food. we’re trying to find a way to encourage people and have found that it starts with the children or with creating events around a practice. everyone loves a party.

    great reading–

  19. dibnah says:

    Thats a good idea throwing a party to celebrate food, I went to a slow food dinner party once that was great. It would be better if you could get the people together to pick, cook and eat in the place where it actually grows. Although it would be slightly more macabre with meat! but still a real eye opener. It would also show people the importance of seasonality.

    thanks for looking

  20. EH says:

    our slow-food events are nice, but a bit on the “pricey for feel-good socializing” side–not necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily accessible to everyone. my favorite integrated food event/celebration was last year. we picked grapes at a local vineyard all weekend (this is the only way they manage to run their harvest! so interesting) and had a supper afterwards from local produce, made by a local chef, with of course, their own local wine. yummy. grape picking is hard work–i can’t believe laborers are often only paid minimum wage for this.

    i don’t think the meat is a bad idea–you’re right. people don’t see the seasonality of meat. why we only find goose and duck in the fall, seafood–when done appropriately–is seasonal…all good stuff. keep up the good work.

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