I’m keeping this one short! A reflection on the coming week and facing a fear…
When I was younger you couldn’t get me to walk past the fish counter or meat isles at the supermarket. The same goes for Queens Market close to where I grew up, I had to walk directly down the middle, for the sides were where the shops were and the smell and the sight of fish, meat and active butchery would send me into a frenzy of woozy despair.
Even my older self struggled; a complete denial of what meat once was, a living entity. You see, for many people, meat goes as far as that prepared and presented to us, row after row in the shops. Convenience hides us away from the reality of meat consumption, it takes away the living element; perfectly prepared, and bearing little resemblance to what these meats once were.
I’ve never eaten much meat, predominantly based on my inability to handle it. During university I tackled chicken, and chicken breast at that, and I found that hard. The notion of going near anything with bones was an absolute no. But give it to me on a plate and I would eat it with no questions asked. The more aware I have become over the past few years, the more I realise how toxic and disregarding this take on food is, especially food that involves a living entity.
We’re all responsible for our consumption, no matter how hard we try to detract ourselves from the reality of it. It is us, making a choice and by making a choice we consent to the story said meat has been subjected too. We have a duty to ensure that such food sources are treated with respect, fully utilised and not wasted. Although things have evolved for me in regard to my ability to handle meat, there is still a huge gap, for I rarely cook or prepare meat myself, and this is something I actually feel quite ashamed about, especially as someone who so strongly believes in nose-to-tail and root-to-fruit methodologies. However it’s been a case of wanting the former to be dealt with by someone else and not myself. A farmer recently asked me, “What do I really know?” when it came to meat in particular, and that was the push and question I needed; it is all well and good me talking about the food system I envisage and in that, I have a duty to understand and practice it.
Today and next week I’m off to do something I’m really nervous about, but I think it’s important as a meat eater, to begin to better my understanding and overcome the squeamish tenancies that I have. I’m going to learn about game butchery, venison in particular. An intensive session in bushcraft and importantly, utilisation. We’ll be skinning, butchering, cooking and using the bones and antlers, for what. I do not know yet. For me this is largely about respect, utilisation, addressing a fear and answering unanswered questions I have had about my relationship with meat.
I’ll be reporting back through a photographic story in the next few weeks, so an advance warning…