I'm writing in response to the letters engendered by "The Carnivore's Dilemma" (Nov. 17).
The meat provided by those who hunt wild animals, such as Mr. Bird, is a minuscule fraction of what our country consumes.
Swine, cattle and poultry have been bred by us humans over the centuries, and even millenia, to have the characteristics of heavy musculature and docility, which make for animals that are both easily managed and yield a lot of meat. (Other traits are selected for dairy cattle and egg-laying chickens.) In some cases, the original wild species of these now-domesticated forms are now extinct.
These domesticated animals are the result of human tinkering with the world around us; the striking fact is that these breeds would not exist if they were not consumed by us. Is this good or bad? I cannot make that judgment. I am neither for nor against vegetarianism or meat-eating, yet it seems worthwhile to ponder our world without these beasts. If they were not eaten, it would be a world without petting zoos, and no books for toddlers with darling piglets, chickies and calves. No cowboys, no Old McDonald and his farm. Who knows? We might be better for it.
Kathryn Corbett, Eureka
I was moved by Jeffrey Bird's naked honesty in describing the exhilaration and sadness experienced in the hunt of an animal. I was a vegetarian for 12 years, and although nearly 20 have passed since, I still grapple with eating meat. When I realized I was definitely a regular meat eater again, I went to the Wild Chick Farm to see a chicken kill. It was time to see where my food came from. I left feeling fairly certain that if I had to kill a chicken to feed my family, I could do it in this manner, an upside down chicken, in a killing cone, its throat slit, passing out from blood loss before a quick death. Now, I don't particularly want to do this, but sometimes I think I should if I am going to continue eating meat.
I appreciate the connection Bird experiences with the men in his family each autumn through the timeless ritual of hunting and preparing for winter on their ranch. A young tofu-eating leftist, years ago, living in a city, searching out Earth-based culture, I mused over the realization that a hunter in the woods had more connection with Gaia than I. Although I don't want to hunt, I understand if someone is a skilled shot, this is eons more humane and healthy than factory-raised cattle, chickens and pigs.
My personal solution is to buy grass-fed local beef, pasture-raised local chickens and an occasional package of Niman Ranch bacon. I've recently learned about local hot dogs made by Eel River. These are alternatives for those who don't have access to or wish to eat Bambi. These meats cost more, but I'd rather eat less meat anyway. Nothing quite disgusts me more than commercials for meat-lovers pizza, with no regard for the ecology of raising too much meat on the planet or respect for the animals who sustain us, which is antithesis to the soul searching that brought Bird peace with his decision to hunt for the meat on the table.
Stephanie Silvia, Trinidad