Going to the grocery store is a non-social experience. Although I’ve met and dated some great women I’ve met while picking up toilet paper and pre-cooked bacon, there’s an invisible wall between you and those you pass in each aisle. Even if you go with a spouse or friend, you’re almost always wanting to go in a different direction because of your own food peculiarities.
For me, buying my food at the grocery store has become a more difficult activity. Since I have become more focused on eating real food (meaning, with as little industrial processing as possible, including how an animal is reared), there’s less and less for me to eat. Restaurant dining, one of my core joys in life, as been practically shut down to zero — I don’t want your canola oil or your gluten-heavy breading; keep your margarine and even your grain-fed butter. I went to a Chinese restaurant recently with a stick of grass-fed pastured butter and asked the hostess if they could cook my dinner with that. She went in the back and said certainly, but she was shocked at the idea. I port around my own 16 ounce insulated bottle of pastured heavy cream during the day in case I want to stop by a Starbucks and have a cup of coffee — half and half isn’t good enough for me.
Since I’m focusing more on real foods, sourcing them myself has become the new joy. I communicate with dozens of local farmers and farm owners, local fresh produce market managers and even a local cafe or coffee shop, inquiring how I can get real food without the industrial oils and processing. Sometimes it’s a success (a coffee shop offered to carry my brand of pastured heavy cream), more often it’s a failure (a local farm I admire told me that they have to grain feed their cows in the winter).
Growing my own vegetables is very energy and time consuming, and I can source reasonable vegetables through my local fresh produce markets (the managers are happy to get whatever I ask for). Meat, though, is still a problem. Either I pay a “local” farm 200 miles away and buy in bulk and freeze it, or I pay a very high price to get grass-fed pastured ruminant meat at the local Whole Foods ($29.99 a pound for certain steak cuts isn’t unheard of!).
Through all of that, shopping for food is still a non-social experience. We’re social creatures — it’s not enough to just get 8-9 hours of sleep, reduce industrial neolithic agents of disease (plant oils, gluten grains and any product sourced through solvents and high heat extraction processes), reduce blue light in the evenings and not graze on snack food all day long. We also need human interaction, and my life in the late night bar scene has also fallen apart — I just have so little in common with the average Westerner.
I want solid, real food and I want the social experience. That led me to one area that has been at a sharp disadvantage in the West lately: hunting. With all that PETA and the anti-animal movement has done to society, it’s no wonder that hunters are an endangered species. Animals have feelings, I’ve been told. Sure, they also have big teeth, claws, tusks, and leg muscles that let them accelerate to 40 MPH faster than you can exhale the breath you were holding. We can survive on soybeans, some other say. Absolutely, and you can watch your joints and muscles deteriorate even as you live to 105. But it tastes like bacon, just ignore all the processing and chemicals used before it gets that “natural” USDA stamp of approval.
Me? I want real food: food sourced without overcrowded meat factories, fats made from nature instead of industrial solvents like hexane or supercritical carbon dioxide. It’s not about me being fair to nature, it’s about finding way that nature can be fair to me. I’m a selfish man and I want to live as long as possible while still being clear-headed, strong and not worry about the soldier saluting in the bedroom. That means consuming animal products, and not just the beautiful but lean steaks you can get at the local chophouse.
Some of the best micronutrients (“vitamins”) in animal meat are in the parts you throw away or don’t buy in the first place: the offal, the organs. Liver, heart, brain, tongue, kidney: all have high saturated fat (the healthiest of all fats) along with a bounty of healthy micronutrients that are bioavailable and easily used by the body. Why take 15 pills a day when you can ground 1 pound of pastured beef liver into your 65% lean pastured ground beef? It’s a vitamin explosion, it tastes good, it’s satisfying and it’s what we’ve been designed to do.
So back to hunting. It’s supposedly cruel, and it’s something that many meat eaters will avoid. Dr. Kurt Harris goes into some side details about hunting in a recent article of his, I, Caveman, which is actually a review of a reality TV show. I love his details about how to best slay your prey — you’re looking for a quick, cruelty-free kill, which means getting your bullet or arrow or bolt through the animal’s “spinal cord or trachea or the cerebral vessels to reliably kill or even bring down an animal.” He goes on to say that “a nice hole in the aorta or heart is merely a bonus” helping to drain the animal of the blood, a step you need to do to properly dress the meat and prepare it for transportation and later consumption. Usually, we dress our kills in the field — it makes the meat less gamey, the carcass is lighter, and we can have a cleaner job at home.
I don’t mind killing anymore. I used to, early on, when I first aimed my shotgun at a buck. I don’t kill for sport, I kill to eat, but there’s something healthy about the hunt. If we don’t find a source of prey at this end of the woods, a fast sprint to the other end is necessary, before slowing down to quiet our movements. The animals aren’t defenseless, either — I’ve had to haul ass faster than I’ve done on any open training field when we’ve encountered a group of bucks that were definitely looking to defend their territory. I have a gun or a bow, they have their intense smelling abilities, huge tusks, gigantic leg muscles and the ability to trample anyone who isn’t careful (watch that link!).
I don’t take an animal’s life calmly, always giving my trophy my true thanks for the challenge and the meat ahead — enough meat to feed myself for months or even a year. Yet hunting is also a social process. I bond with my hunter-friends, we confide in our fears for what lies ahead of us, we communicate through words and glances, hand signals and sometimes the blow of a hard-to-locate whistle frequency. It feels right, congregating on the hunt to track and slay the prey before us, to fill our plates for months with the healthiest wild meat and fat. It’s sport, for sure, but it challenges us to the edge of human endurance. It requires patience, speed, large lung capacity for proper aim, muscle endurance and absolutely no alcohol remaining in the blood stream. Often we end up with not even a slice of bacon, but when we approach a solid beast and it succumbs to our patience and aim and determination, we’ll reap the benefits of inexpensive meat for a long time along with the good nature of friendship.
Dressing the catch in the woods is difficult. So many meat eaters just buy a burger at the local fancy burger joint (“ooh, it has smoked gouda on top and it’s only $15!”), but they don’t know the process of draining a huge 160lb deer of 35lbs of blood before you can properly break it down to carry it home. It’s not pretty, it’s not pleasant, and it gives you strong respect for nature. Once you see and feel the defenses that an animal has, you become aware of what it takes for man to feed himself and his family and community well. Industrial raising of defenseless animals in cages is not what you want after you do it yourself.
To those who are animal rights lovers, I can respect you more after I have to do what needs to be done. I take no issue with PETA’s view of industrial animal husbandry — it sickens me, too. But I also don’t agree with your dietary habits. Soy is a dangerous toxin, as is wheat. I want healthy, animal-based saturated fats in my diet, and I want food that satisfies me with only 1 or 2 meals a day, no grazing or snacking. I won’t get that from the latest soyrizo or bean tamale, and I am driven to living healthy and alert and sexual for as long as possible. The number of years I have left is irrelevant versus the quality of those years.
So I defend the hunter, and the hunt — I also defend the hunted, since I don’t want to waste one bit of their healthy and satisfying flesh, like the lion who kills their prey just to consume the fat, leaving the lean protein for the vultures or to decay, unused. I don’t like the idea of a cow living 3 years jammed in between hundreds of other cows, versus the elk I will slay this fall who has lived a long life in nature, raised offspring naturally, and is fully prepared and designed to challenge me and even take me down if I screw up.
It’s what man was designed to do, and if you try it yourself this fall, you might find new uses for speed, stamina, sobriety, friendship and the ability to manipulate your hands in specific, engineered ways. Get away from your mouse and your monitor, your treadmills and stairmasters, your colon cleanses and barstools — and see what your body can do in nature.