If you’re worried about pesticides and want to make sure all the fruits and vegetables you eat are truly local and organic, the only way to be completely sure is to grow them yourself. It may be extra work, but the peace of mind it provides is worth it for many people. But how can you be completely sure the meat you’re eating is local and sustainable? For an increasing number of health-conscious individuals, especially younger people, the answer is hunting.
Although hunting is dropping dramatically in popularity – the number of Americans engaging in the pastime is down 18 percent from 20 years ago – its fortunes could soon turn around as young people take the notion of clean eating to the extreme.
The Georgia Wildlife Federation’s Charles Evans, a hunter recruiter, told the Wall Street Journal: “Earthy crunchy aligns very well with deer hunting.”
There is even a national hunting group looking to capitalize on the trend, the Quality Deer Management Association. The 60,000-member group has established Field to Fork, a project that organizes group hunts and finds recruits at places like farmer’s markets, where representatives offer samples of venison and try to stir up interest in the hobby among those who are already showing a preference for local food sources.
They make it easy for young people to get involved. Trainees use crossbows, skirting any reservations some young people have about guns and vastly increasing the places they can carry out their hunts.
The program uses slogans such as, “Hunters are the original conservationists” and “Harvest your own local meat” – and young hipsters are buying what they’re selling.
Being proactive about clean eating
Quality Deer Management Association Hunting Programs Manager Hank Forester said that it’s hard to do better than a white-tailed deer when it comes to local and sustainable food. His program offers classes on hunting and cooking venison, and it has attracted a slew of new young hunters. They pair newbies with mentors and train them to use crossbows before taking them out to practice their new skill.
One new hunter, Jennifer DeMoss, had been a vegetarian in the past before reaching the conclusion that humans can eat meat ethically. After eating roadkill meat, the anthropology grad student decided that taking up hunting was the way to go, describing the feeling she got after her first kill as being comfortable and exhilarating while expressing gratitude that an animal sacrificed its life to feed her. She says hunting is now all she can think about, and she goes to the forest in search of her next kill as often as possible.
Another young hunter profiled by the Wall Street Journal, Edwin Pierre-Louis, is a grad student studying parasites who grew up in Haiti. He was interested in learning how to hunt big game, so he signed up for Field to Fork. Meanwhile, Athens Farmers Market Manager Sarah Thurman joined Field to Fork in search of self-reliance, saying that hunting enables individuals to “opt out of the systems of mass production” for food.
Changing the face of hunting
Millennials are starting to change the stereotypical image of hunters, and while the more experienced hunters out there might be rolling their eyes a bit at the idea of hipsters running through the woods and scaring off their deer, many will concede that this growing interest will give the sport the jolt it needed to overcome its dwindling numbers and negative reputation. Moreover, given many hipsters’ liberal political leanings, the idea of having support for hunting across the political spectrum is also considered a win for the sport and wildlife conservation in general.
Whether you agree with hunting from an ethical standpoint or not, it’s certainly good to see that so many people are demanding clean meat that is free from additives and steroids and taking a very proactive stance against meat from factory farms.
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