By Daniel Allred
The Industrial Revolution changed an awful lot. During the 18th and 19th centuries the western world made a rapid transition from rural to urban societies through assembly lines and massive leaps in scientific knowledge.
Food production was not exempt from these changes. The idyllic image of a rural farm with cows grazing on wide open fields generally became a thing of the past, as the meat/agricultural industry embraced mass production techniques. This included a massive increase in the use of fertilizers, pesticides and factory-like slaughter houses.
But factory farms soon came under fire for disturbingly unhealthy products and equally disturbing unethical labor practices. American journalist Upton Sinclair brought the nature of factory farms to light with his novel The Jungle (which can be read in its entirety for free here), and the federal government soon stepped in with legislation like the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act as well as the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration.
This regulation and oversight effectively swept most food quality concerns under the rug, that is, until about a decade ago. A mixture of diet fads, environmental awareness, and research that linked processed food to fatal ailments like cancer and heart disease , caused people to have a new found interest in the source, quality and processes behind their food.
Organic, hormone free, all natual, free range, antibiotic free, grass fed, GMO-free, these are all attempts to reconnect with “natural food” and ease our conscience, but do they really go far enough?
These ‘humane labels” are generally pretty misleading. For example, cage-free chickens aren’t stored in battery cages like other laying hens, but they can still be so tightly packed in a warehouse that they can’t even spread their wings. Similarly, the USDA doesn’t have specifications for the duration, quality, or space that needs to be provided for a free-range label. Designations like these make people give people a false sense of morality.
There’s also a whole slew of diet fads aimed at maximizing healthy eating, Atkins, gluten free, and paleo, just to name a few. Generally these diets fall off soon after they spring up as people realize that the health benefits are exaggerated or completely nonexistent.
Bowhunting is the perfect realization of both sides. It’s more humane than factory farmed meat. And it’s more conducive to health than store-bought meat because it’s not subject to chemicals/processes, and it requires decent physical activity to succeed.
It goes without saying that the U.S. is in dire straits when it comes to food quality and physical health, and an increase in avid bowhunters could drastically alter that.
I say bowhunters specifically because it takes a lot more dedication and physicality to kill a deer with a bow. The energy you put into an arrow comes from the energy of your body. Bowhunting also promotes focus, patience, and dedication.
The archery industry should really consider tapping into the food movement and show that it’s not only another option, but in many ways the best option. The whole food movement began from a desire to know where our food comes from and what it goes through before it’s on our plate. You can’t get much closer than actually killing it, gutting it, packaging it, and cooking it yourself.
While the food movement has the right intentions, bowhunting is a superior choice to the entire slew of fad diets. It provides tremendous physical activity and can provide a whole family with some of the best food available. The best part is that the incentive and desire to get this amazing food and exercise is already built in to our physiology. The thrill of the hunt and the adrenaline of sending an arrow into the heart of a wild buck is more thrilling and visceral than any video game, roller coaster or TV show. On top of all that, the archery practice in the offseason is a simple and enjoyable way to exercise regularly. And if we teach this to our kids, not only will they internalize the amazing experience and pass it on, but they’ll also be privy to a lifetime of amazing food and a reason to stay in shape.
Technology has made living so easy that we have forgotten what it means to be alive. We’ve become blissfully ignorant to all the pain and blood involved in taking a life for food. Hunger used to be a struggle every day. Bowhunting can do more than any diet craze because it forces us to confront these truths we’ve forgotten and appreciate the miracle of life all the more.