Bill Heavey: Allies in Strange Places

I got a letter from a Mr. R. L. Fischer of Pittsburgh the other day, passing on the transcript of … Continued

I got a letter from a Mr. R. L. Fischer of Pittsburgh the other day, passing on the transcript of an interview in which the subject delivered “the best justification for hunting” that Fischer had ever heard. The person being interviewed was a non-hunter, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Food Column editor of the L.A. Weekly, Jonathan Gold. And it aired on every hunter’s favorite radio outlet, National Public Radio.

That’s right, a food writer from La-La Land on the liberal elite’s favorite radio. Gold, an adventuresome eater, described both his extreme discomfort and a kind of epiphany he had while eating a live prawn in a Korean restaurant in Los Angeles.

“…it was not dead, this prawn, it was extremely alive and it was wiggling its legs and it was wiggling is antennae. And its eyes were like swiveling madly in its eye sockets, and it was looking back at me, seeing me as actually the predator, the creature that was going to eat it.

“It was getting too close to the actual nature of consumption, which is killing a living creature with our teeth…(but) the taste of the prawn, the taste of the meat of it, was extraordinary. It was sweet, it was like there was life pushing through it.”

The interviewer then asks the million dollar question. Was Gold of the opinion that it mattered, that it was morally better to eat an animal if the eater was more awake to the fact of the animal’s life and that it had had to be killed to end up on his dinner plate?

He responded: “I think it matters a great deal. I mean, one of the greatest metaphors in western civilization was that of Christ who gave his life so that others might live. And I don’t want to be sacrilegious and I don’t want to belittle that myth in any way, but a pig is giving his life so that we might eat, a chicken is giving its life so that we might eat. And I think the least we can do is to think about that chicken, to think about that calf we are eating. Not necessarily to be sad for it, but to celebrate it, to be aware of it being that what it was, that it wasn’t just this bioengineered protein that somehow managed to find its way onto our plates.”

I was thinking about this all day yesterday while butchering my deer, which took me and a friend about five hours. It was something I hadn’t done in a long time. It brought home to me once again the strange miracle of our lives: of the fleeting now-ness of them, of the violence of existence, of the vividness of any given moment as it flies. And of how all living things are part of a mystery far beyond our ability to comprehend.