Editor's note: Click here to read the original article published by Addie Broyles.
“I wanted to kill a deer — not for sport, but so I could have a direct hand in the harvesting of meat that I would eat.”
That was the provocative, if not exactly original, mission statement of a Texan named Addie Broyles, a foodie who writes a weekly column or the Austin American-Statesman. Her story, which was published by Cox Newspapers, was titled, “Learning about hunting and the morality of meat.”
In the interests of knowing more about where food comes from, Broyles has written about building garden beds and chicken coops and fermenting sourdough and kombucha (a green tea spiked with probiotic bacteria and yeast)
As for meat-eating, she wrote that, “As I’ve contemplated the meat system and my own choice to eat meat, I’ve been itching to hunt.”
Broyles acknowledged that although she grew up in a rural area surrounded by the “hunting culture,” she’d never fired a rifle, noting that her “peace-loving hippie parents” preferred camping and canoeing.
At this point in these first-person sagas, I’m usually clicking off the page, rather than continuing to read some weepy “my hands trembled as I pulled the trigger” tale of a food writer eager to get animal blood on her hands.
However, the hunting trip Broyles hooked up with was led by Marvin Bendele, a rancher and director of Foodways Texas, which among other events stages Camp Brisket each summer (http://foodwaystexas.com/events/barbecue-camps/camp-brisket/), a “boot camp” style workshop led by professors from the Texas A&M Meat Science, along with Jess Pryles, who stages an annual Carnivore’s Ball for “the discerning meat enthusiast.”
Okay, now I’m interested.
Cutting to the chase
Broyles explained that Bendeles — Marvin Sr., and brother Brian were along for the hunt — were descendants of settlers from the Alsace region of France (once part of the German Empire but ceded to France after World War I) who founded Castroville west of San Antonio in the 1850s.
Which explains why that before the trip got underway, the group fortified itself with “parisa,” a local specialty of finely chopped raw venison mixed with shredded cheese and minced onions.
Broyles goes on to detail her amazement at “how much technology modern hunters use,” with lots of blah, blah, blah about hunting apps that can predict feeding times based on the moon cycles, cloud cover and weather conditions, info of interest only to newbies like her.
C’mon. Get to the hunting part.
While the rest of the party was paired off to begin moving across the terrain, Broyles apparently was fantasizing about having “her own deer stand in the woods, a quiet space with a view, [like] having my own treehouse in the woods, where I could read or write or meditate while somewhat protected from the elements, but also completely immersed in them.”
Her meditation included “wondering whether she could actually hit the deer with a single shot, and whether [her] conscience would allow her to kill an animal.” She wrote that, “I decided that if I’m going to eat meat, I can’t shy away from the reality of what is involved to produce it.”
But talk about a dead end to the story: Although Broyles decided she was “absolutely ready to pull that trigger,” she spent two days doing nothing more than watching deer from a distance — and meditating — although other members of the party did bag a doe.
If this were a Hollywood script, it would be headed straight to re-write.
I’ll give Broyles this much, though: She wrote that, “Meat is muscle, and eating it requires the loss of a life. For many eaters, vegans and omnivores alike, this isn’t a pleasant thought. But I choose to focus on it to honor the animals and the age-old tradition of hunting and harvesting them.”
You know what? As a society, we need another tradition: more food writers like her.
Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator.