How many of you take as much pride and joy as I do by feeding yourself and your family the finest and purest table fare you can? As hunters this means lots of lean, wild meat. Also, since most of you value your bodies as your greatest tool in the field then you want to also feed it clean, healthy, and nutritious fruits and vegetables too.
I don’t know what it is but I really feel like I’ve accomplished something when I’m able to cook an entire meal with items that I harvested myself. By harvested I mean killed or grown. To reach into my freezer and pull out deer steaks for the grill and complement them with a salad from lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers I picked that morning totally reaches a level of satisfaction that I cannot personally explain. It makes me feel like I am one with nature, my environment, and have evolved into a true survivor.
Every meal I prepare or eat is not this primal nor am I completely self-sufficient. I indeed go to the grocery store just like everyone else but I work hard to complement store bought products with home grown. I don’t have to work that hard to feed myself and loved ones, but there is something deep down inside that drives me to do it. Is it the challenge? I don’t know. I have plenty of challenges in life why do I want to add more by planting and maintaining a garden? Why do I put the pressure of ensuring I kill enough animals in the fall to last me to the next fall? Why do I brave the briars of my blackberry patch for a few measly berries? The only legitimate answer I can come up with is that’s the way I was programmed.
Do I really need to spend a weekend grinding meat, stuffing sausage casing, and smoking meat? No, but it tastes amazing and I know exactly where it came from. Even after making the sausage is it worthwhile to carefully slice it thin and vacuum pack it in serving sizes to last a week for sandwiches? When I go fishing it would be a little more relaxing not worrying about dragging a cooler of ice in tow to keep my fish fresh until I can get them filleted. I have three rows of beans that need picked as I write this and it’s 90+ degrees outside with outrageous humidity levels. Sound fun? Didn’t think so. I will do it nonetheless and feel better for it.
What do I have to gain by blanching and freezing bag after bag of green beans next week? Pickling peppers is a pain in the butt. My wife and I will fly around the kitchen balancing kids canning tomatoes to be used in elk chili this fall. She took our three children and corralled them around a local strawberry patch picking berries to be used in protein smoothies for our betterment. They sell those in the produce section you know? Pure and simple, it’s fulfilling to us.
I don’t have a specific point I’m trying to make with this article but rather wanted to share this internal desire that I’m guessing several of you have. We do it because it’s good for us mentally, physically, and on the inside. Teaching my kids where food comes from is important to me. Instilling the hard work required to be healthy means a lot now and into the future. Knowing I can take care of my household regardless of what’s going on in the world is gratifying. So while you’re out there busting your hump just remember, it’s worth it. Stay strong, stay diligent, and stay healthy.