Hunting down your main course
Friday, July 25, 2008 | 07:26 AM ET
by Amber Hildebrandt, CBCNews.ca
The locavore trend appears to have taken a bloodthirsty turn — into the realm of hunting and slaughtering animals.
Perhaps it was inevitable that the interest in city and rural foraging would translate into some going a step further to tracking or butchering our prey.
I first read an article in the online magazine Slate.com titled There will be chicken blood, in which the author describes in numbing detail killing her backyard chickens. She portrays the slaughters as an inevitable part of the growing popularity of city chicken coops not normally touched upon.
"It's not easy to swing the ax, but I do," writes L.E. Leone. "Then I kneel in the dirt, holding the body still while it flutters, and hyperventilate."
Then in Wednesday's edition of the Toronto Star, food editor Kim Honey, took readers on a perhaps unwelcome journey through a cooking demonstration that involved killing a "fluffy bunny" with "blond fur and little black eyes" as part of a piece on wild edibles.
"It was cute, but I wanted to eat it," she writes of the rabbit. She then goes into her failed attempt to kill it with a blow to the head, passing the duty on to someone else.
A litany of caustic comments poured into the newspaper following the piece's publication.
Is it awful that I snickered a bit at the ridiculousness of it all — this urban writer clutching a rabbit in her arms before gutting it after the kill? I applauded a little inside.
Until now, the locavore and 100-mile diet has inspired interest in plants formerly known as weeds and all that grows around us, whether in the urban jungle or the wild. But it was just a matter of time before those foraging for berries would take the next step.
Though I don't think the experience is for everyone, it gives a newfound appreciation for meat beyond the styrofoam packages in a grocery aisle.
Sure, the reality of it may be enough to turn people to vegetarianism, temporarily or long term. I remember being on the edge of a no-meat lifestyle when I was growing up on the farm.
After a cow was butchered, the dismembered head would be left upright on the ground by the bale shed. Nearby were the innards. Inside the kitchen sink, the bloody liver would soak in water until it was time to cook supper.
I will admit that other than fish I never watched the killing, nor performed it. And perhaps that was my loss. I would have learned something unforgettable about how intricately I am tied to the animals that feed me.
Perhaps it's time to learn a few skills from my farmer father. At the very least, I plan to get my hands scaly and fillet a pickerel this summer.
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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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