Some people say that if you don’t have what it takes to hunt and kill and clean and cook an animal, you shouldn’t eat meat. There’s some merit to that argument, although we all could challenge it. Big business had commodified meat and so many animals live in squalor and prison for their entire lives in order for big business to bring meat to market.
Part of the reason that we moved onto our Albin Vega sailboat, Wee Happy, was to become more self sufficient and to reduce our carbon footprint. Part of that means sourcing our own food rather than patronizing the capitalist system that produces meet for the masses. In that light, we’ve endeavored to learn how to fish. It’s supposed to be so easy that it’s a no-brainer.
Still, we are finding that the oceans are beyond over-fished. Coral systems, the life-blood of fish populations, have almost completely disappeared all around us. There are few reefs that still remain, and even fewer of those are even close to what one might call “healthy.”
So we’ve gotten a fishing license and basic rod and reel, etc. We’ve caught a few fish here and there in the keys, but not very much. Even if we were to be able to catch fish every day, we shouldn’t eat them every day. Fishing is not a dietary solution because you can not eat it every day. The fish are so loaded with mercury that there are very real limits to the amount that you should eat every week. What good is a diet loaded with fresh protein if you die of mercury poisoning?
So it is what is known as a catch-22 situation. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The middle road seems reasonable however. If nothing else, we can learn to supplement our diet with reasonably healthy amounts of mercury laden fish. The younger they are the better, but that means catching more of them.
And then there is the fact that every fish you catch is one that you have to kill and then clean. Catching them is fun. Cooking them is fun. It’s the killing and cleaning that is a “steep learning curve.” Another way to say that is that killing and cleaning them sucks.
It’s good to be in touch with the life that you are taking when you eat meat. Distance breeds insensitivity. Having to hunt means that you meet the animal in its own environment on its own terms. You learn to love it and find it beautiful in its amazing perfectly situated niche. Then when you catch it and honor it and kill it you feel deep inside what it is that you are actually eating. Food from a store in packaging with colorful labels really does separate us from the reality of what we are consuming.
So today I, Capt’n K, caught my first fish by spearing them. I’ve been snorkeling with my spear for a while, but I’ve always been hesitant to take the fish that I see. I don’t want them to be too small. If they are then I’d have to kill to many to have a meal. I don’t want to kill to large of a fish, because then it would be more than Lala and I could eat in a meal, and we don’t want to waste any precious life. So I have been hesitant until I found the right ones.
Today was that day. A spear is violent compared to a rod and reel. It is also very grounding. It makes me realize that what I am doing: catching an animal for eating is violent. I use force and it inflicts pain, and it is all to fill my belly. I am no vegetarian, but I do honor life. And so I like spearing because it requires me to appreciate my food in an entirely new way. I am swimming with them, meeting them in their environment, and I must deal with the emotions and thoughts that come up for me as I endeavor to take life to bolster my own.