Most current food-motivated hunting or fishing programs have identified adults in urban or suburban areas who are interested in locally sourced foods as their target audience.
Many of these potential food-motivated participants are younger, urban and female; the antithesis of the current hunting/angling population. As a result, they may have few skills, little knowledge and some misconceptions about these activities.
Specific motivations for people concerned about their food are highly variable and often complex. For example, one person may be more concerned that their food is locally sourced and could be categorized as a “locavore"; another may be more interested in obtaining exotic ingredients for gourmet cooking and could be categorized as a “foodie"; while a third person may be interested in the quality of their food (no GMOs, hormones, etc.) and that it is sustainably produced. Obviously, these characterizations are not mutually exclusive; a single person could embrace more than one of these interests.
We asked survey participants and focus groups who were locavores themselves and/or who had recently graduated from a food oriented new adult hunting class "Which of the following sustainable food sources do you use regularly?".
- 70% Shopping at farmer’s markets, farm stands and U-picks
- 68% Growing your own fruits and vegetables
- 44% Shopping at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Etc
- 32% Foraging for mushrooms, berries, etc
- 23% Raising your own animals
- 22% Belonging to a food co-op
Quote from a focus group participant - The reason I keep it up is, it's not that I enjoy it cause it's boring as hell. But, I like knowing where my food comes from. That's the main reason I do it. I know what that deer ate. I know where it lives. We've been hunting in the same area for so long, we know the trails. I know exactly what I'm eating and that's why I keep at it.
In addition, participants within these groups may have several other motivations fueling their interest in obtaining their own food. Every participant has a unique "bundle” of motivations. Additional motivations may include:
- Reducing the ecological footprint associated with meat consumption
- The health benefits of obtaining “organic” protein
- Obtaining protein in an alternative manner to an industrially raised and processed source (Note that this “industrial” source of food may be highly distrusted by these participants)
- A desire to consume only “free range” meat, particularly from an animal who has had an opportunity to live its life in a “natural state”
- A desire for self-sufficiency
- A desire to gather/forage food from the land in a sustainable manner
- A desire to obtain locally or sustainably grown meat
It is important to note that the interest in hunting or fishing for food is often an extension of existing activities, such as gardening, raising chickens, or brewing one’s own beer. Participation in these activities also likely represents a cultural shift in the way they understand, relate to, and choose to participate in, the selection and consumption of food and other resources.
In many situations participants are vegetarians. However, they are willing and often welcome the opportunity to eat meat or fish from an animal that had lived its life in the wild and died in a quick and humane manner.
Because these participants come from different backgrounds with little experience, it is best to assume that they know very little about hunting and fishing; therefore you need to start with the basics. In addition, instructors need to be sensitive to their different backgrounds and tolerant of different attitudes. Misconceptions about hunting and fishing should be respectfully corrected, without “talking down” to, or embarrassing anyone. By the same token, instructors should acknowledge that not all hunters or anglers are good role models for the activity.