Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall Harvest: Produce and Animal

It has been a couple of weeks since the last harvest of the year from my backyard garden.  It has been nice to have a steady supply of fresh herbs and vegetables much of the year.  Fresh ingredients make the best tasting, nutrient rich food and are critical for recovering from athletic pursuits.  Having processed, canned, and froze excess produce I can continue to look forward to enjoying the finished product of my labor over the winter. 
There were times the garden was both a blessing and a burden, notably during peak harvest as it takes a good amount of time and effort to process and preserve excess produce.  Any garden also requires a certain level of constant attention between watering, weeding, and harvesting.  These tasks often don’t come up at times of my choosing.  The overall experience was positive but there are things I will do differently next year, specifically including more leafy greens and fewer tomatoes.
The peppers grew well in the fall.  A collection of late season Poblano, Bell, Habanero, Cayenne, and Jalapeno peppers.
There were a lot of kitchen creations over the growing season making great use of all the fresh produce.  I never shared my failures, which, there always are but have been sharing what turned out delicious.  Every creation is listed in the food page.  Some of my favorites and most popular:

Beyond the garden, in the past couple of years I have taken up hunting and fishing.  19 Nov 2011 marked the opening day of gun deer season in Wisconsin and my second time hunting.  While I was hunting I read The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel during the slow hours.  This paragraph brought a smile to my face:
“So what should you eat to provide BCAA (branched chain amino acids) and the essential amino acids for your rebuilding muscles?  The best possible source would be meat from game animals such as deer, elk, and buffalo.  Of course, chances are that you don’t have the time to go hunting, given your workout and career choices.  (For our ancestors, hunting was exercise and career all rolled into one activity.)  No, it’s unlikely that you will find game meat outside your back door, and it can’t be sold in supermarkets either.”
The reason game meat is the best source of protein is because these animals have very little fat in their meat and typically free range.  Their fat is layered on the outside of the meat next to the skin as opposed to a cow that has marbled fat.  Animals with a grain based diet will have greater omega 6 and lower omega 3 counts than an animal on a free range diet, making the meat of a grain fed animal inferior.  Some wild deer do eat plenty of toxic GMO corn making them a compromised nutrition source.  For this reason I hunted in swampy woodland far from farms so the deer would have a natural diet of acorns and buds.
The view from my tree stand
After putting in close to a 12 hour day the sun was rapidly fading and a steady rain picked up.  I was ready to call it a day and go back to camp for warmth and food.  Visibility was reduced and 10 minutes remained until last light when two deer manifested from nowhere right on top of me.  Seconds felt like hours as I quietly positioned myself.  Every little sound I made seemed as if it were amplified and I caught the attention of one of the deer a couple times.  I took my shot from 10 yards out after he stepped out from behind a tree.  After a pause he ran off and made it a good 50 yards where I found him the next day.  A lot of careful planning and preparation combined with the luck of an opportunity led to success.
My first deer
Deer are beautiful and elegant animals.  They are also great nutrition and delicious.  I have spent the last couple days butchering and processing the animal and plan to make steaks, stews, sautes, roasts, sausage, jerky, and chili without any going to waste.  This deer will feed my wife and I for quite some time and save us a good deal of money on groceries.

Paleo meal, inner tenderloin and salad.  I meant to eat beets as well but they took longer to cook than anticipated.
I respect these animals and understand the where and how of meat getting to the table.  It is unfortunate that we live in a world where people can live a life disconnected from this process.  I feel animal life is cheapened by the willful ignorance that accompanies many people's consumption of meat from grocery stores.  It is not just meat either, big agriculture and the FDA are guilty of horrible practices related to produce as well.   When dollars are the motivating factor many animals and workers live in undignified conditions to satisfy the demands of the market.  I can say my deer lived a good life and died humanely.         

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