As with others who hunt, I’ve been asked on a number of occasions why I do it. I suppose at least being asked is better than the outright condemnation some feel justified to fire in my direction. Whilst the answer to the question can be long and detailed, the one word that summarises it for me is 'provenance'. To be a little sneaky however, provenance for me has a number of attributes including local, seasonal, ethical and sustainable. Provenance ensures that the food isn’t provided from an industrialised process.
There are a number of documentaries and non-fiction books available today that have tried to investigate the effects of industrialised farming and fishing, such as Seaspiracy and Farmageddon. Additionally, films claiming near magical benefits from eating a vegetarian or vegan diet such as Game Changer would have us believe that humans have been wrong all this time and our survival relies on a quantum shift in how we sustain ourselves. To be honest, I don’t disagree with the need for seismic changes, but I do think that the common underlying theme of these publications, i.e. promote veganism at any cost, has tainted the important information which has been used to allure the reader or viewer in the first place. Had they remained objective throughout, the message that they should have focussed on wasn’t industrialised farming or fishing but rather industrialisation itself. By trying to extol vegan food as the only honourable food source it actually makes an objective person look at that supply chain in more detail.
Industrialisation of food production was a result of the ravages of the Second World War on nearly every population on the planet. An efficient means to produce more food was critical to the world at that time. Unfortunately, as with all things it seems, greed took over and a return to a more socially aware way of sustainment was cast aside and relegated to a page in the history books. Worse still, our politicians seem to espouse and laud those companies involved as some sort of saviour to the public thus allowing the cycle to continue. No one seems to have stopped to ask if we still ‘need’ this level of food generation.
With technical advancement comes positives and negatives. Ying and yang always prevails! The development of passenger aircraft has provided an affordable means for most people to travel the globe. Thats great for people to visit far off distant places for a well earned holiday but it also makes the world a much smaller place for business to exploit the natural richness of our planet for nothing more than monetary gain. We aren’t talking about a few million quid here, but rather billions. The more money a company can make the less likely they are to be dissuaded by arguments of conservation and protecting the global environment. Possibly worse, we now have the internet. People don’t actually have to travel anywhere physically to reap devastation somewhere else on our every decreasing world. Amazon might be convenient, as is the ability to buy pretty much any food even if its alien to the country where it will be consumed, but the final nails in the existence of the high street have been hammered, after the coffin was first constructed by the supermarkets. There’s nothing ‘super’ in destroying societies, and equally galling is the irony of a company calling itself ‘Amazon’ whilst supporting the global transportation of often useless tat in packaging 1000 times bigger than the contents; the resulting carbon footprint must be unimaginable. But, who reading this hasn’t used them?!
People are by nature ‘social’. It’s why we have the term ‘society’. Social media isn’t social; it’s anti-social. Meeting and greeting in real life, offering physical support to those who need it, supporting our local providers, ensuring an environment in which all people and animals living can prosper, enjoying one another’s company whilst breaking bread or sharing a drink, are just some of the things that make us who we are, create communities and empower societies. If your food can’t be sourced from local produce then maybe you shouldn’t be eating it. How can a meat eater justify industrialised farming, or someone who enjoys fish be happy with the devastation industrialised fishing is leaking on our oceans, or a vegan preach that they are doing the right thing for the environment whilst eating avocado grown on a different continent at the cost of water to the local people, or the widespread use of pesticides to grow any number of other fruits and vegetables. Our hypocrisy is astonishing.
I’m not perfect. Very few people are. I do however try to eat food that I am confident has come from a local and sustainable source and is harvested ethically and in the appropriate season. If I could, I would only eat wild game as I know it has had a life worth living and isn’t contaminated with any chemicals. I’m happy that my shooting of an animal to eat not only provides me with the meat I need but also supports the species as a whole by assisting in the management of that animal. Conservation doesn’t happen simply by leaving populations to grow beyond that which their habitat can support. It’s unfortunate but true that wildlife needs management as humans have changed the global landscape beyond recognition from where it was just a hundred years ago. It’s a pity the human race can’t learn from this very basic fact. With the global population set to increase to nearly 10 billion by 2050, considering it was only 1.6 billion at the turn of the twentieth century, and currently sits at 7.8 billion, things aren’t going to get any better. We can at least learn from some of the positives of the COVID pandemic by trying to rejuvenate the benefits of communities and society. Eat local, seasonal, ethically sourced, and sustainable food in addition to supporting your local businesses. Why not holiday in your own country, there really is no need to travel to an exotic far away destination every year.