Game On! Why Wild Game Rocks
(Photo by Artur Kornakov on Unsplash)
When people hear the word ‘protein,’ images of plump livestock often pop in their heads. This composite image makes sense when you consider that farm animals are by and large the most culturally acceptable animals to eat. Not to mention, they’re pretty tasty when they’re cooked right. But farm animals need a much-deserved break, mainly because there’s another group of animals worthy of mention at the dinner table: wild game.
Wild game is an umbrella term for a group of free-ranging, non-domesticated animals. Some of the animals include deer, bison, duck, pheasant, wild boar, rabbit, squirrel, elk, moose, to name several. So the next time sees a deer roaming about, think twice before Googling about Animal Control Specialists. Instead, understand that the animal standing before you can provide some tremendous nutritional advantages.
Even though hunting season is still a ways off, it’s never too early to think about how you could incorporate wild game into your family’s diet. Not only do game meats boast some impressive health benefits, but they also make for some delicious recipes.
Today we’re here to talk about why game meats are the bomb, and how you can make dinner time a little more interesting.
First, let’s talk about why wild game meats make excellent fuel for your family.
Since non-domesticated animals roam freely, their diets are usually pretty varied as a result. Wild animals are much more likely to consume greens and fruits than factory farm animals whose diets mainly consist of corn and grains. Diets high in leafy greens and berries and low in grains make for leaner animals. If you’re still not convinced, let’s put it this way: three ounces of venison has three grams of fat, compared to a whopping 18 grams in the same amount of beef.
Chock full of omega-3s
Omega-3s are fatty acids that play a critical role in the upkeep of a lot of your body’s systems: digestive, immune, cardiovascular, and even skin and bone maintenance. What we’re trying to say is omega-3s are pretty darn important for good health. You’ll be hard-pressed to find these anti-inflammatory agents in commercially-raised beef, which have high levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Yikes! This fact goes to show that what your food eats is just as important as what you eat. Wild game animals that much regularly on greens means you’ll reap some secondhand nutritional benefits.
No food poisoning here
Some of the worst foodborne illnesses you can contract come from improperly stored, prepared, or cooked meats. Commercially-raised animals are already primed to pick up nasty bugs. The stress and deplorable living conditions they endure their entire lives contribute to their low-functioning immune systems. Once these animals hit the chopping block, they become breeding grounds for disease. To put this in perspective, 97% of chicken tested contains bacteria that can make people sick.
Moreover, ground beef is a hotspot for E.coli and salmonella. It’s so bad that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has claimed it to be “one of the riskiest foods to have in your kitchen.” Fortunately, most game processing plants are much smaller and better maintained than commercial meat plants.
Lots of iron and zinc
If you thought omega-3s were the only nutrients wild game had to offer, think again. Iron and zinc are also in high supply in these meats, and notably more so than commercially-raised meats. Iron helps your blood and tissues, whereas zinc helps strengthen your immune system. Women are especially prone to iron deficiencies, so incorporating wild game into your diet as a lady can give you an energy boost. Some wild game meats, like elk and bison, also boast substantial levels of phosphorus and Vitamin B12, which help keep your teeth healthy.
Be kind to Mother Earth
Did you know that by eating wild game meats, you could reduce your carbon footprint? Factory farming requires massive amounts of resources to stay up and running, and more and more at the expense of the Earth. Not only does factory farming severely abuse innocent animals, but it also creates new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, pollutes the ground soil and air, and extensively damages aquatic eco-systems. Suddenly a Big Mac doesn’t sound so appealing.
Thankfully, wild game consumption does not wreak nearly as much havoc on the environment. While some argue that killing animals for sport is immoral, we’d like to ask a question in response: is killing hundreds of thousands of animals to maintain business immoral?
Our recipe pick
Now that you’ve got a better idea of how amazing wild game meats are let’s introduce one of the tastiest dishes you can make with them.
You can use this recipe with just about any type of waterfowl. Most ducks will serve two to four whereas other birds will serve mostly two. This recipe is pretty easy to put together; all you need is a nice-size duck, a tablespoon of kosher salt, a halved lemon, and four sprigs of either parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme (maybe listen to some Simon & Garfunkel while you’re at it).
The trick here is in the preparation. First, preheat your oven to 325°. Next, gently prick the skin of the duck without piercing the meat; this will help render the fat out, crisp the skin, and make for a more tender and supple texture. Pay close attention to the back, front of the breast, and the flanks. Next, salt and rub the lemon on the duck pretty liberally. Use more salt than you think you need and stuff the lemon remains in the cavity of the duck. Stick the herb sprigs in there as well and then let the duck sit and soak for 30 minutes.
After that, set the duck in an ovenproof pan surrounded by root vegetables. Stick it in the oven and let it cook for one hour. Depending on the size of the bird, you might need to adjust the time. After the time is up, take the pan out and distribute any fat onto the vegetables. If those are done cooking, move them to another plate. Next, crank up the over temperature to 450°. Once it’s there, stick the bird back in for a half an hour. The reason you take it out is to redistribute the juices and let the skin crisp without drying the meat out.
Once it’s done, let it sit for five to ten minutes, and then, bon appetit! We don’t want to tell you what to think of wild game meats, so we’ll just let you try them out for yourself.