Some friends of mine worked at a local mission that served hot meals to the homeless in the city for several years. During their time there, they would often see local hunters donate meat to the mission's freezer. As someone who values the nutritional quality of meat in the wild, I thought that this nice gesture was especially great because it meant that they were serving especially nutritious fare. (I don't know what this mission's current policy is regarding game as this was a good 10 years ago.)
When a friend went out hunting a couple of years ago for the first time, we were crossing our fingers that he would be "prosperous" in his hunt as he had promised us his excess meat. A freezer full of game means a year of having high-quality meat without the expense of buying 100 percent grass-fed meat at the store (which can be incredibly expensive). He was unlucky in his hunt, so we gave a little sigh, and then bought a "cow share" from a local farmer and had it locally butchered. Just a wee bit more expensive than getting game for free!
So you will understand the heat rising to my cheeks when I heard of authorities in Louisiana throwing away 1,600 pounds of deer meat that had been donated to a local food program to feed the homeless. Oh, how I hate the waste of good food.
Why throw away some of the highest protein, best meat sources out there? The health department defended its actions (and also doused it in Clorox so wildlife wouldn't "get sick" from it) by saying, "Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana. While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public."
I don't know why they were considering deer meat a "potential" threat, but I do know that there is some concern with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) with deer. While there are no cases of CWD being transmitted to a human from deer, some health authorities remain concerned that it may eventually cause a problem. Also, my understanding is that wild game can be caught and killed for personal consumption and can't be served at a restaurant.
So then, I have two questions. Is the potential threat of CWD, when there are no known cases of transmission to humans, a good reason to throw away meat? And, is wild game being served at restaurants, or on a "soup line" something that should be banned?
Somehow it just seems wrong that game isn't good enough to feed our cities' hungry, when I would certainly have jumped joyously at the chance of getting similar meat myself. Our country was built on hunting and gathering from America's vast resources. It seems a sad day when we consider factory-produced meat a healthy option in comparison to their wild counterparts.
What do you think?
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