World's Fair

“Urbanites Learn the Primal Lure of Hunting”

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If you hunt a meal right beyond your backyard, well, that’s the fewest Food Miles you’re going to find. If you’re not a hunter, well, someone ought to teach you. If you’re urban or, let’s just say it, bourgeois, then isn’t this all so fun? The New York Times reports on this new gambit for reducing food miles and its happening right here in my own backyard. “The Urban Deerslayer” reports that hunting clubs are springing up, at least here in central Virginia, at least one. A class in Charlottesville called “Deer Hunting for Locavores” will teach you how to shoot a gun and dress your meat too. It’s all in the name of local food. A group in San Francisco, The Bull Moose Hunting Society, does much the same.


This is a connection to that fourth meal in The Omnivore’s Dilemma‘s four meals, the one nobody ever talks about. (The book’s subtitle is a “Natural History of Four Meals.”) After Industrial, Big Organic, and Local Organic, it’s the “I got it myself” meal, out hunting wild boars and tracking mushrooms. In any discussion I’ve had about the book, any time I’ve had students read from the book, I’ve never gotten into or assigned that last part.

But alas, articles about the local food movement and the alternative agriculture The Omnivore’s Dilemma speaks to have finally caught up to Meal #4.

I can’t quite square these kinds of comments though. Says the NYT:

Mr. Swanson, who keeps a version of the popular bar video game “Deer Hunter” on his iPhone, managed to get “a nice little doe,” which filled the trunk of his car with about 50 to 60 pounds of bone-in meat. ‘From the time I pulled the trigger and the time I had it my trunk was just under two hours,’ said Mr. Swanson, 31, a technical project manager at a Web development company.

That’s too culturally dissonant, I don’t know. Here’s another line:

For Nina Burke, 50, a systems administrator, who made the two-hour drive from Fredericksburg, Va., to Charlottesville to attend Mr. Landers’s classes, it was about the flavor.

A systems administrator? Sure, even systems administrators need to eat, I won’t deny that. But all I can picture here is Nelson from The Simpsons in an orange hunting jacket and a pocket-sized “The Best of William Wordsworth” in front breast pocket.

By the end of the article, I wasn’t sure if this was satire. Systems administrator hunts deer for the flavor? Is this jarring to anyone else?

Plus, I have to admit that this hits close to home not just because it is about a group close to my home, but because we have friends who live out in the southern part of our county, where they hunt and shoot and advocate gun rights and the rural life and God and patriotism and all of that. They’re not mockable, they’re sincere; my listing of those attributes is supposed to provide an image, not intimate a tone of liberal angst. A few weeks ago Gary was deer hunting early in the morning with his cousins when a very large black bear ambled by, stood on its hind legs, and took the measure of the hunters while, it seemed, he was deciding whether to attack or not. One of the hunters took the bear down with one shot. I only know this from pictures after the fact and from the stories by those hunters. And that bear was huge. Many hundreds of pounds and probably 7 feet big huge. In fact, we heard this story when we went out to their house to walk the fenceline with our pony only to be dissuaded by the target practice already underway out in the field. It makes a good place for target practice, that field. I’ve shown pictures of the field before, talking up the character of the fenceline bordering the horse pasture.

I don’t hunt, but if I wanted to I would probably ask Gary for help. I hadn’t considered taking a class with systems administrators and iPhone game app downloaders. It strikes me as too much like the time back in the ’80s when my Hebrew school brought in local break dancers to do a demo, thinking this would make the place a little more hip-hop. I couldn’t square the convergence of those two disparate worlds anymore than I can see paying some guy in town to teach me how to hunt and dress my meat just like in the video game.

Comments

  1. #1 natural cynic
    November 30, 2009

    Don’t see very many deer where I live. If you want to go urban locavore in most cities, you should take a class in Pigeons: From Capture to Cuisine,

  2. #2 Matt
    December 8, 2009

    I hope some people in the Bos-Wash pick up on this. You can’t even get to and from work without tripping over those things.

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