Seventeen August 2020, the first day of the “Hunting Moon”
If I were to choose one topic on which folks are divided, the subject of hunting is high on that list. People become polarized at the mere mention of hunting, vehemently for or against; rarely if ever indifferent. In a five year survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recorded that 101.6 million hunters, fishers, and outdoors people have visited our national parks to engage in their favorite sports and pastimes. Although I can on some level understand the need to hunt and fish – I am aggressively opposed to trapping in this “modern” age…and don’t even get me started on fox hunting.
I have been to places around this country where if deer were not hunted people would not have anything to eat in the harshest parts of the winters. It is low in fat and calories – a benefit for the folks who have the luxury of venison as an adjunct to an already bountiful diet, but for those millions of people who depend on the deer as their only source of protein they just don’t have the resources to supplement with beef, or as Im seeing the new trend unfold; Bison. Its a victory for the well-to-do and health conscious, but an added challenge for our fellow citizen who are chronically living “hand to mouth”. You could even succumb to malnutrition if venison was your only source of protein. Many a tale describes a trapper or woodsperson, who spends much of the time away from a proper shelter engaged in their craft as being “Rabbit-starved” (plenty to eat, but not enough protein).
According to my most recent haphazard internet search, there are eight million vegetarians and one million vegans living in the united states. Full disclosure: I have adopted many vegetarian and vegan principles to my diet and am the healthier for it. I am in transitions because of some recent “health scares” and I am still uncertain where my diet will land.
I practice a “live and let live” lifestyle (just don’t mention eating turtles or fox hunting and we’ll be good), alway trying to remember that good fences make good neighbors and to each their own, these are not conflicting sentiments in my off-kilter little world and yet a constant discord exists within when I think of hunting and animal consumption.
It’s a somber undertaking, the killing of an animal to feed pets and people, but that is what it is; killing. You can dress it up in folklore and tradition or you can try as we somehow endlessly do to conflate it with your fiercest wishes to live independently and thus become an indigenous person, but its still killing. And it is a choice – It would be wise at this stage to find alternatives or to actually approach it with the most sacred method you can muster.
What better time to ponder all of these life-style choices than a rainy days that brings rosemary cutting into the spotlight. Who among us can resist the insistent allure of the rosemary plant (no shame if you don’t like rosemary, I cant smell burning sage, but lets table that).
One of the special event for this moon is celery – grown to perfect crispness and blanched if you want (blanching is covering the stalks so that the lack of sun drains them of some of their color) along with its important sister crop celeriac – store celery with clumps of soil and roots attached, pack them close and tight and they should last for one or two months – if stored with turnip or cabbage they change to taste of the celery and it is far less palatable.
Brussels Sprouts are fattening up, Collards and Kale are now in such abundance that you will not be able to even give it all away, and we make sure our kitchen is prepared for the second flush off peppers that come every September. Pumpkin and Squash are also coming along nicely.
If you have been diligent around succession plantings then you are coming into the fall lettuce and radish harvests – any cool weather crop that matures into the cooler fall temperatures will have a sweetness that you just won’t get in any other part of the year.
The other special event is grains. I have seen a great interest in growing local grains and yet I can’t recall ever being part of harvesting, planting , or using any local grains. It would seem that sometimes the romance takes over and supersedes the advancements that have been made because we want to live at a slower pace in a much simpler time; I’m all for that, but it really does keep coming back to that energetic equation. I can try to revert back to a simpler time by growing my own grain, but grain is available for pennies compared to the sweat and toil I would have to put into replicating an industry that went big a long time before me. I get the romance and I’m on board, but at least lets have a conversation around grain and what we as local individuals really need.
As we enter the the next twenty-eight days called the hunting moon, it is a time of year when I mull over my ambivalence towards hunting and the back to hunter gatherer mindset so popular now-a-days. When I think long and hard about shipping food across the country in every direction, I always wonder how this criss-crossing the globe to eat even became a thing? I mean, I get that people sailed around the world gathering exotic spices when they needed a break from wiping out cultures, but why do we still ship food all around the world?
I suppose it could be that the “back to nature” homesteading mentality more often than not fails to be the innovation it promises to be in people’s minds and on paper, and sadly there are countless many stories that have us just mimicking the struggles that civilization faced before any great innovation occurred.