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For lunch today I gave myself a special treat. I made a red wine risotto with wild duck and imported Italian porcini, and it was delicious. It got me thinking…..and this is what I thunk….

In America and Europe the season for hunting various birds and mammals is just around the corner. I truly respect people that hunt for their meat. I am one of them, and I know we are the few remaining people that are bold enough to do what needs to be done. It’s hard work hunting, just as it’s hard work raising your own animals and then dispatching them for meat. This is why I have developed the mantra…treat meat as a treat. I also have a mantra to combine the wild meat with it’s seasonal friends. In Autumn wild birds cook magnificently with wild mushrooms. A marriage made in wild food heaven.

This Autumn my eldest daughter and I foraged our local woods for mushrooms, almost on a weekly basis. She’s 5 years old and can tell the difference between a Saffron Milk Cap and a Slippery Jack. (Remember ONLY eat wild mushrooms you know 100%). And yes she is a dork, just like her Dad.

If I did the math I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that I do in fact eat mostly vegetarian meals. Mostly because it’s easier to grow my own veg than it is to hunt for a regular supply of meat. When the season’s right I can get my meat and freeze what I can. And when I get low I can buy a sustainable meat source such as Kangaroo. A few times in the year I’ll make a trip to John Harbour Butchers and make the purchase of a Lamb shoulder or maybe some shanks. But really it’s a super decadent treat. On the rare occasion that I go out for lunch (usually with my parents to a pub) I’ll order meat. Again a treat.

Herbs from the kitchen garden make a nice addition to any meal.

This approach to understanding where my meat comes from, and respecting it by cooking it the best way possible to fully enjoy its ultimate potential is my choice. It certainly isn’t the majority rule. Which is a pity really because the environmental impacts of sheep and cattle farming on a large scale are phenomenally devastating. But it’s nothing for a punter to walk into a supermarket and fill their basket with meat, some meat and then more meat.

It would be less pressure on the natural world if more people grew their own vegetables and fruit and ate meat as a treat. I often wonder if it was legislated that you can only eat the meat that you kill yourself, how many people would become vegetarian. It’s an ugly business, one of which I’m prepared to endure. I am after all content in my biological description of being omnivorous.

I also often wonder, if it were law that only people that actually needed a 4WD/SUV for farming/hunting/fishing/outdoors activities were allowed to own one, then would all those people that drive their massive 4×4’s to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and to pick the kids up from school, actually get a more practical small car? I doubt it. I fear we are doomed, as there are more stupid people with money than there are poor people with sense.

One last rant. When you take an animal’s life, be that a wild duck, quail, pheasant or a home raised duck or chicken; we should use the whole bird. Bake it whole, roast it whole, then use the carcass to make a stock, then feed the bones to the dog and the scraps to the compost. Waste nothing for that animal has lost it’s life so that you can fuel yours.