What is in this article?:
- Locavores give hunting, game meat no respect
- Hunting offers other benefits
- Demand for locally grown food has grown so widely and is expressed so passionately that a word has now been invented for it — locavorism. Yet, hunting — or to be more specific, game meat — is seldom associated with it.
- But shouldn't it be? Isn't wild game, by definition, locally grown food? For that matter, isn't it free-range and organic, precisely the kind of food locavores desire?
Hunting offers other benefits
Local hunting hot spots typically form the nucleus of satellite enterprises, including sporting good stores, restaurants, hunting lodges and meat processors to name a few — all of which embody locavore values.
Another especially well-served group: local landowners who sell hunting rights to their land.
"The South, while not exactly a Mecca of leased hunting, is a region of the country where lots of leasing is occurring," says Smith, citing leasing rates that typically run between $10 and $14 an acre.
"This could add up to a few thousand acres a year for some landowners," he says.
Underscoring yet another strong affinity between hunting and locavorism, Smith says the principle behind hunting leases bears a strong resemblance to another practice near and dear to locavore hearts: community-supported agriculture, in which local consumers contract with local producers to secure a share of their produce.
"Just as consumers chip in to secure a desired amount of produce from a local famer, hunters lease tracts of land from property owners to secure game meat," he says.
There are other stark parallels. For example, one expert says hunters have been thinking and acting like locavores long before the term was invented. Much like locavores, for example, they're training their sights closer to home as a cost-saving measure following the recent economic downturn.
"Based on what I've gathered from hunter blogs and other online sources, they're not planting as many food plots or driving as far to a hunting lease," says Dr. Stephen Ditchkoff, Auburn associate professor of wildlife ecology and management. "They're figuring out how to tighten their belts, but they're not turning their backs on hunting."
So what will it take to bring these two disparate camps together?
Some observers contend that hunters could start by underscoring their longstanding emphasis on land stewardship and securing sustainable food sources — once again, the same sentiments that are driving the emerging locavore phenomenon.