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Why we share wild food with each other

People around the planet enjoy sharing wild food with one another, and we always have since God above evolved our species, however it is He evolved it. It is an innately human trait to both enjoy giving and receiving wild food.

Wild food is a broad category, but it excludes anything we buy, especially in a big store. Foods from stores are almost always, or are always, plants and animals raised in intensive industrial environments, replete with chemicals everywhere and in everything. Wild food usually includes fruits, herbs, and vegetables grown in our own gardens; fruits we have picked in the wild, like berries and apples; and any wild game meat or fish we have harvested. Chemicals are either non-existent or are naturally occurring in minute amounts from the native soil.

All around the planet people put a high premium on wild harvested meat. In Africa and Australia, “bush meat” is highly valued as fresh, nutritious, free of human-injected chemicals and hormones. Everywhere bush meat is eaten, it is traded in lieu of money. And when a European bites down on a size 8 piece of shot in her forkful of grouse recently from the Scottish Highlands, where it was shot on a drive, hung for three days in a cooler, and then shipped off to Spain, Germany, England, or France, she knows she is eating something special, and it tastes even better. The same is said for the meat of hunted red deer, and occasionally wild boar, both of which are highly prized foods served in restaurants and home kitchens across Europe.

Wild food is better for us, we all know that, both in terms of what is in it and also what is not in it, because (except for poached bush meat from at-risk wild animal populations in Africa) it is environmentally sustainable. It also tastes better, because it has grown up under natural circumstances. Giving and receiving it as a gift is a symbol of real friendship and caring. Wild food is something most Americans can participate in, especially as growers and givers, and so I hope that someone reading this is inspired to take a corner of their luxury status symbol yard and turn it into an unruly food garden. The pleasure of sharing the harvest with friends and neighbors is quite enjoyable.

Humans began as hunters and gatherers and we remain such, even with our thin veneer of civilization inartfully separating us from the wild world around us. Much of our innate gender differences are centered on what hunting and gathering was done by our ancestors over the past few hundred thousand years. Gathering food by hand is a natural and innately human thing to do, and most people find gardening calming and enjoyable. I guess being a real human and not a false, contrived human can be pleasurable.

Last month I picked over six pounds of blueberries and another five pounds of blackberries and red and black raspberries, about a hundred pounds of peaches, and about fifty pounds of apples. I won’t share these hard-won prizes with you by the fistful, because then the berries would all disappear within a few minutes. Rather, I will share them by mixing them into muffins, pancakes, cobblers, pies, and preserves spread onto toast, ice cream, and cakes. This way these gems last all year long, and everyone gets to share in them.

Aside from being cleaner and tastier than industrial foodstuffs wrapped in plastic and styrofoam, wild food has the benefits of bringing us closer to nature, closer to reality, closer to self-reliance and self-sustainability, and closer to people we might not normally encounter. Nature can be the sharp berry bushes we must reach through to pluck our juicy berries, and it can also be the mother bear and her cubs waiting for you and me to clear out of the scratchy berry patch so they, too, can feed on Nature’s bounty.

Nature here can also include a variety of destructive garden pests like squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, and chipmunks, and learning to cope honestly with these artificially overabundant animals teaches us important lessons about reality versus luxurious and silly childish feelings and notions of animal welfare that are terribly destructive.

For example, artificially high populations of pest species, like squirrels and ground hogs, spread high amounts of disease and physical destruction. And when vegans strut and brag about their reliance on industrial monocultures like soy beans, they ignore the tremendous environmental and habitat destruction wrought in their vegan names. There are significant environmental costs to veganism and vegetarianism that could be offset if those adherents participated in wild food, like growing their own and trading/ bartering for what they cannot grow themselves. Few things are more annoying than listening to someone from a wealthy lifestyle bragging up their veganism/ vegetarianism while simultaneously tearing open plastic wraps and environmentally damaging containers containing industrial foods. Food isn’t just about what you put in your mouth, it is very much about where it comes from, where it was grown and where it lived before your credit card brought it home.

Hunting in America and Canada produces millions of pounds of fresh, clean, natural, wholesome wild meat for more than just the people who pull the trigger. Hunters Sharing the Harvest is a well known program that enjoys widespread support from both givers and receivers. Schools, neighborhood soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and just simple low-income people, all benefit from receiving this wild meat. And farmers and forest owners benefit from having artificially overabundant deer and hog populations thinned out so their crops can grow in peace.

For those silly people who oppose hunting, jiminy crickets, people, wake the heck up. You are not living in a fairy tale book, and you are having your own huge impacts on the planet around you. An animal’s life is not just measured by how it died, but also how it lived. Almost all industrial meat comes from factory farms, enough said. However, wild meat comes from animals living their lives to their fullest before quickly falling over dead from a bullet or an arrow. Any modern educated human who believes that wild animals die naturally under antiseptic and peaceful conditions is a fool, enough said. Recreational and population management hunting (not poaching or market hunting) is a perfect way to provide environmental protection to wildlife habitat, conserve vulnerable wildlife populations, and harvest natural, sustainable wild food.

By mid-December of this year, I will have probably shared over a hundred pounds of wild meat, mostly venison, occasionally waterfowl, turkey, and small game. The people who receive my gifts of deer meat (that I have shot) are always grateful, and they often report back to me on what they made with the gift, who they shared it with, and how delicious it tasted. This exchange is true friendship, and in a politically fractured world, we all can use a little more friendliness, a few more friends. Wild food is my way of contributing.

In an hour I am dropping off a bag of peaches from my own trees, and picking up a bag of pears from my friend Ryan’s trees.

What wild food are you going to grow or harvest, eat, and share? If you have a big lawn, put away that lawn mower and start growing your own food. You will like it, I promise.

cucumbers from our garden don’t cost a dollar apiece like in the stores, and they are fresher and have no chemicals. Our home made pickles are far tastier than store bought, and have no chemicals. We use the overripe ones to make bread and butter pickles.

Every summer we make home made pickles. Different flavors. Yum

We have a bunch of peach trees. If the bears and the squirrels don’t raid them, we get to enjoy them, and cook with them, all year long

Sumac grows wild everywhere. Steeping a few heads in a bowl of warm water provides the most delicious drink possible. Chill it, serve it with sugar over ice, sumac tea is free, easy to forage, and chemical free

A hatful of red raspberries I foraged in July in the shrubbery of a public parking lot. IN a store you would pay twenty dollars for these wild ones, and they would be half as good. Go forage and pick your own food

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