Wednesday, August 13, 2008

off the wagon

Kassidy, you've gone and kicked me off the wagon.   The meat wagon.  Or the no-meat wagon.  I'm not good with common expressions.  Whatever wagon it was, I've probably fallen off it now.


Yes, the world of Daisy's eating habits is quite complex.  It started a long, long time ago in a far-away place called college.  There was a boy.  He was cute.  And he was a vegetarian. 

For the first time, I will go public (thanks to this thing we call "the internet"), and admit that I stopped eating meat because that cute boy didn't eat meat.  I came up with all these reasons of environmental and physical and spiritual health, but let's be real.  That boy was awfully cute. 

Cute.  Not handsome... Like my Handyman.  He's the handsomest.

Back to me though.  I stopped eating meat.  And yes, I dated the boy, but by then he was back off the wagon... or on the wagon... whatever.  He was a regular at South Carolina's hottest BBQ places.  But I held strong.  

I don't actually know why.  While I didn't have a good reason to stop eating meat, there really wasn't a good reason to start eating meat again.  So I didn't.  For a year, I refrained from ingesting all the fantastic meat this world offers.  Like Domino's pepperoni pizza.  Or Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich.  For a month I was a grilled-cheese-french-fry vegetarian, and then something strange happened.  I craved salad.

Yep, you read right.  I craved salad.  Never ate it as a child, and it goes without saying that I had not eaten it since escaping to college.

Then, something even weirder happened.  I craved seafood.  Tuna, salmon, halibut - the whole gang.  And, the only thing I hated more as a child than salad was seafood.  So, I figured that I would put a foot down from, or up on, the wagon and have some fish. 

Fish was good.  Fish was a gateway meat.

Then a few years later while being exposed to basic theories of land management and game control, I realized that I could get behind eating a little bit of wildlife.  Yep, not only did Bambi and Daffy end up on my plate, but so did some elk.  Cue the drool.

My first elk was killed by a friend and hung in my garage during my first winter in Montana.  Those were some serious firsts.  It was seriously cold, and that elk was a seriously large, dead animal.  For that week when the elk hung in my garage, I went without anything I thought I might need from the garage.  I'd tried to go in once but couldn't make it past the elk without bumping it... which make it swing... which animated it in a way I found creepy.  

That elk was not commercially farmed.  

All of the elk you can legally hunt (and this one was legal) comes from well-regulated herds.  I had listened to plenty of stories of old timers relaying what happens when ungulate herd numbers get too high and out-eat their food sources in the winter.  It's heartbreaking, and while I'd rather have natural predators back on the landscape, I'll settle for what will work until a better solution is found.  And that is hunting.

So that friend, along with many fire fighting coworkers, provided all the rest of the elk I ate.

Until recently.  As most of you know, Kassidy house sat while the Handyman and I ventured down the Grand Canyon.  And after she'd gone back to the Wyoming sheep ranch she calls home, she left a few unmarked packages in the freezer.  Some unmarked packages that the Handyman got ahold of.  Some unmarked packages that the Handyman grilled. (Without the packing, of course.)

While I'm baring my soul (see reason for becoming a vegetarian above), I must admit, those elk sausages were really good.  They were so good that I'm suspicious of my wagon status.  I could be on.  I could be off.  You see, there was probably some farmed animal hanging out with the elk in that sausage.  It could have been Wilbur or Babe or Porky... or even cute little Piggly Wiggly that used to live near my grandmother's house.  Somebody was hanging out with Mr. Elk in that delicious, tasty, mouth-watering snausage.  And my last stand on the meat front, my last toe-hold on the wagon's edge, was to boycott farmed meat.  

Am I weak?  Am I terrible?  I have no plans to go get that Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich or even buy commercial meat from the supermarket (the former being the greater temptation.)  But, I do like to think that even though I can't be perfect, I can make small efforts in my life that will impact the greater good in a positive way.  I think if we use animals as a food source, they should be treated in a respectful way.  Farmland is better than a strip mall, but there are serious environmental issues with pig farms and other meat-producing practices in some states.   And I think, in some cases, meat really isn't good for us.  After all, sausage has quite the reputation. (And just in case anyone suggests it, I've read Diet for a New America, Fast Food Nation, and I'm working on a few of Michael Pollan's.  Truly eye-opening.)

What are your thoughts?  What wagon are you on?  Would you eat some juicy, grilled, leaner-than-lean and lightly-spiced elk sausage?


Virginia said...

I can remember devouring an entire package of delicious elk jerky made from said creature hanging in your gargage. Yummmmmm...wild meat!!!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, is it gamey...because if their is the slightest, slightest bit of gamey I start gagging...I can't even take I'm not sure.

Sorry but I love pork...imagine that.

the larsons said...

I took an animal rights (ethics philosophy) course in college. Bottom line: if you are an animal rights advocate, you pretty much have to be anti-abortion. And you will have a hard time drawing the line on logical grounds as to what can't be eaten or killed. Fish? Monkeys? Paramecia?

Essentially, as moral animals, we do what we want to do and tend to find the rational backing for our "gut-feel" positions. That's my conclusion, anyway!

the larsons said...

Oh, and Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich is the bomb indeed.

Rebecca Spanbauer said...

Mmmm...meat is good. I liked some of your pictures, but a few of them really emphasized the turd-like quality that sausage links tend to assume. I won't lie.

Like you, I recently had a gastro-intestinal adventure--about two days ago, one that is, in fact, still with me at this very moment. I ate a steamed clam in Cape Cod. I like shellfish, and eat oysters, but had never had a clam before, so I tried it. Did you know that clams have "necks" and "bellies?" Gross. Anyway, I gulped it down, and it tasted good, but it doesn't like me at all!

So, new rule: if it looks like something that I might might "void" from my "system" within 48 hours, I won't eat it. Food for thought.

Feel free to erase this comment, as I talked about poop.

Daisy said...

Oh no! I love all comments. I had a temporary post up a few days ago that I won't take down because someone left a comment on it!

Poop and paramecia. It all deserves a chance...

Kirstin said...

Hi, I love elk! I was googling garden blogs and came accross yours. My hubby doesn't hunt but we have friends who give us meat. I love it much better then deer.

Victoria Williams said...

I can completely relate to your off again, on again, food meat wagon. I've been there. Right now, with my cholesterol sky high, I'm back to the "off".

Kassidy Kern said...

So what you're saying is that if I can find some "organically grown" (bullshit) hogs, you'll break down and nibble some bacon?
You know you want to....

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