27 Comments

Definitely a member of the clean plate club myself haha. My grandma used to joke that after I'm done eating, doing the dishes is no longer needed. Thanks for writing about this important topic!

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Hank, I enjoy reading your thoughts here. I'll add MFK Fisher to my reading list. Out of curiosity, who would you say is America's best outdoor writer?

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Along with M.F.K. Fisher's classic on the subject, I highly recommend writings by Angelo Pellegrini, such as The Unprejudiced Palate and the anthology Vintage Pellegrini. Pellegrini was a notable buongustaoio and writer on food and life in the mid-1900s, though not as famous as Fisher. He is rather earthier than Fisher (who was no bluenose herself, of course). He started out as a sharecropper's kid in Italy and wound up a professor of English in the U.S. I seem to recall that Fisher described him--meaning well by it--as a wonderful "antic Pan". He talks about things like gathered and storing wild food, the true enjoyment of food and wine as the mother of moderation, and the pleasure that can come with eating certain poverty foods--good in themselves, though the poor get sick of them--as long as you don't have to eat them every day. Part of his message, I would say, is that, with the abundance of America, you don't HAVE to settle for anything that is either unenjoyable OR uneconomical, as long as you devote some thought to living.

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Apr 17Liked by Hank Shaw

"How to Cook a Wolf" left such an impression on me teaching myself how to cook just out of college. MFK Fisher was my teacher and following my grandmother around her kitchen asking, "How much is a pinch, Gma?!?!"

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Apr 16·edited Apr 16Liked by Hank Shaw

Raised by children of the Great Depression, I learned early on not to waste anything. This disposable society drives me up a tree!

And don't get me started on guys "breasting out" their birds.

I think I'll stop here before I begin yelling at everyone to get off my lawn!

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Apr 16Liked by Hank Shaw

Composting is a hugely overlooked way to make waste into something usable, or if you have a small yard space, just let it melt into the ground! We also feed a lot of our scraps to our chickens which is another way to double up if you like eggs!

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A compost heap is definitely on the agenda this year. I had one in California.

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Apr 16Liked by Hank Shaw

To funny and to good! Pretty much the way I live. From the water with Rod and Reel and the occasional set line for big cats, then from the organic garden say Gazpacho a hundred times and from the woods Hogs Deer Ducks and other small game. Waste not want not.

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Apr 16Liked by Hank Shaw

I love & resonate with this (and try - not always successfully - to practice it) -- and also love the two excellent facts I learned while reading this post: #1, I did not know that the meze tradition involves an intentional forcing-you-to-choose element, which is really fascinating to me (there seems to be some sort of intricate relationship to FOMO in there that I want to reflect on at much greater length...) and #2, I did not know that you were such an avid MFKF fan. She is also my all-time favorite and I hope that your mention of her leads more people to discover her work. I stumbled upon the Art of Eating omnibus in a used bookstore when I was 18 and it fundamentally changed my life. I had a *full collection* of her works, except for an obscure thing on wine, when the house exploded, and losing those + your cookbooks was one of the biggest Serious Bummer losses on the list. I'm slowly replenishing them, but they're not always easy to find!

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I had set a goal to eat everything I purchased or cooked in 2021 with as little waste as possible. I was very proud of my families efforts, and the significant reduction in food waste. One of the reasons we have chickens is so that food scraps are never wasted. They’re wonderful little dinosaur garbage disposals. After a bountiful waterfowl season and a full freezer, my wife and son stopped delighting in wild duck and started asking for less. I have committed to a self-imposed bag of 3 ducks next season in an effort to make them special enough to cherish. I have always enjoyed gifting wild game, but have had many, many people tell me it isn’t their cup of tea. Thank you for the reminder of our fortunate position of abundance, Hank. It truly underscores our responsibility to be conscientious about how we dispense death to our fellow living creatures.

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I love reading along as your conscience gradually tortures you to death, but I'm a glutton for that sort of punishment. And I've got a REALLY good MFK F. story to tell you next time we chat.

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I always feel so guilty when any food hits the bottom of my trash can. I already to much of this, but appreciate the reminder to more conscientiously use every last bit of what I can. Thank you!

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Any way you could compost your scraps? That way the biomass stays in the loop ;)

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Apr 16Liked by Hank Shaw

Keep preaching! And it's wonderful to see so many like-minded folks here; thank you all for your efforts.

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Excellent.

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So timely as I recently finished An Everlasting Meal for the first time and it bowled me over! I've thought of myself as a thrifty person who makes good use of leftovers and strives for 0% food waste in my home, but I sometimes fail. Not often, but when I even have to compost the few stalks of celery I neglected I feel pretty poorly. But her book made me realize there is always more you can attempt to do and it's been a shot in the arm.

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Apr 16Liked by Hank Shaw

I was also brought up as part of the clean plate club. Though it does cause some bloating, anxiety, and lifetime struggle with too many pounds, I do always feel better about myself on the whole. Especially when making stocks, thrifty dishes, or at least dog treats. Brings up some questions sometimes though… through a strange twist of fate, I’ve been separated from my deep freeze for 5 months and so haven’t been able to access game in there. As hunting seasons start to approach again, I have to ask myself, should I skip this year? I have enough meat. Should I give it away so I can kill more? Seems difficult to wrap my head around doing that. Maybe host a few big dinner parties to try to get through it quickly? Either way, I feel like my moral compass is pointing me the right way if I feel like I’m in crisis mode about it!

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Food waste sure is a thing here too. The distribution of wealth led to higher standard of living but almost inevitably led to more waste on every level right? For everyone to take part equally you need to produce more than the whole of the group actually needs?

Even worse on some level though is to see the waste with other hunters. And there is a lot of it. I’m certainly not perfect in this respect for sure but I see some horrendous attitudes with subsequent equally horrendous waste far from what most hunters would actually admit to in casual conversation.

Anyway, this is a topic that probably cannot be exhausted. Thank you.

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Is there a foundation that supports the processing/distribution of meat that hunters aren't able to eat? Some folks are hunters, some are chefs, some are organizers and some just need food. There must be a way to channel all of our individual talents.

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Some states have Share the Harvest programs, that will take donations of wild game meat from hunters to distribute to food pantries or families in need. You have to use approved processors (and test for CWD in affected areas). Missouri has one. Not sure about other states!

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But absolutely agree. If there was a chain that could look at several channels at the same time that’d be great for here as well.

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In Sweden, as opposed to the US (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) individual hunters can sell their meat onward. In spite of that we don’t see a lot of game either in grocery stores or in restaurants.

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There are pretty important conservation reasons why selling game isn't allowed here in the US (market hunting almost eradicated entire game populations here before conservation rules prevented it and allowed populations to recover). Any game meat you buy in the US has been farm raised, mostly in New Zealand and Australia, I think? Which is to say, yep, you are correct! (I think there are some exceptions for problem animals like wild pigs where some commercial trapping is allowed? not an issue were I am so I'm not too familiar with how that works)

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