Editor's Note Winter 2011

llustration: The Handbook of Early American  Advertising Art, Dover Publications
Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, 1944 Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress)

Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

December 01 , 2010

I’ve never fired a gun. The closest I ever came to one as a child was at my aunt’s house. She’s a cattle rancher in Arizona and often kept a pistol by her phone. I’d walk past it gingerly, as if getting too close meant it would suddenly go off like a stick of remote-controlled dynamite. Having grown up in a big city, I’d always associated guns with hot-headed maliciousness and revenge.

Now in Vermont, I’m exposed to rifles. I’ve never hunted but have seen rifles used at on-farm slaughters. Since I don’t know my calibers from my cartridges, I couldn’t tell you what the traveling slaughterer used to shoot the pigs and cows at those family homesteads. And I’m not sure what kind of firearms were wielded by the hunters who brought meat to the Craftsbury wild game supper I attended a couple years ago (although I remember my friend picking buckshot out of her teeth). What I do know is that I now associate guns with food.

But I still haven’t fired one myself. What will that experience be like? I’m a direct beneficiary of firearms when I eat certain types of meat. Experiencing what it’s like to shoot is, in my mind, a way of acknowledging how our food comes to us. When I processed chickens for the first time this past summer using knives and cones, the deed, although difficult, brought home to me the reality of eating meat. So will firing a rifle.

In this issue, Vermont native Robert F. Smith encourages localvores who might be skeptical of hunting to at least consider it with an open mind (see Why I Hunt). This is something I intend to do. The more that Vermont localvores who don’t hunt learn about Vermont localvores who do, the richer our statewide conversation about local food will be. (For some unique insight into hunting—from a Vermont vegan-turned-hunter—check out The Mindful Carnivore blog, tovarcerulli.com.)

Also in this issue, Lisa Harris writes about the food traditions of the early Abenaki (Abenaki Food Traditions). They may not have used rifles when they hunted wild game, but do the tools really matter? What matters is whether the hunter respects the animals, the forest ecology, and the future generations who deserve access to both. Many Vermont hunters are respectful of these things, and many early Abenakis likely were, too.

We’re pleased to be covering the early Abenaki and modern-day hunting in the same issue. As the photo on our cover suggests, the woods are vast. They are where the story of our culture can be written—and read. We existed in the woods for a long time, and the woods affect and reflect our lives today. Whether we hunt or not—or have ever fired a rifle—the woods are out there.

—Caroline Abels

About the Author

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels is the editor of Local Banquet and the founder-editor of Humaneitarian.org, a website that inspires people to buy and eat humanely raised meat.

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Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.