Deer Processing and the Value of a Buck, Part II
Up here in cold country, venison in the freezer is good insurance. That not only applies for beautiful NW Montana, but for anyone who spends the short afternoons of Autumn boiling hog bodies, dragging a deer carcass or plucking feathers only to tirelessly cut, chop and/or grind up meat. If that is you, you know the value of food put up for the winter. The subject of home economics is indeed one often learned by watching others or it might be taught by the unavoidable mathematics of stores on the shelf divided by mouths to feed.
Eating is a standing requirement.
To that end, the science of economics has been described by some as “a wrap around the food chain.” The dismal 1:1 ratio of subsistence agriculture, hand-to-mouth existence or foraging through rubbish heaps to eat never yields any sort of surplus. Without surplus, there can never be any buffer in daily life where one does not have to spend all day searching for food—home economics 101. If a person needs 2,000 calories to survive and they only can collect 2,000 calories in a day, then there stands a 1:1 ratio of food required and food collected. As soon as someone can collect 4,000 calories in a day, and consume 2,000 now a surplus is available and an economics outside of the home takes over.
Economics in the house is widely defined as anything from stretching a dollar by coupon clipping, to cooking, to sewing, to processing deer; necessity will dictate which happens at what time, but the self sufficient homestead must be prepared for all situations. It also follows that the caloric buffer, the food savings account (“pantry insurance” if you will) should exceed typical consumption by many fold—this is how I have always heard my Grandmother talk about it.
Hunting is one of the oldest means for humans to increase the food buffer. Deer processing, the truly messy and labor intensive part that people often pay others to do, is the method from taking a whole animal to putting the steaks in the freezer. If the problem is a knowledge gap, then I recommend books like Storey’s Country Living Skills or the book title: A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game as they are both great places to start.
But maybe you were like me and you did not need to be convinced that it was a good idea, but wanted to see it actually accomplished. I referenced another great book in Part 1 called Gut it, Cut it, Cook it by Eric Fromm and Al Cambronne; I secured permission to reproduce this awesome graphic in that book to show what parts of the animal produce what when processing deer:
While thousands of cows can contribute to one pound of ground beef that you buy in a store, the venison burger that you grind and put in your freezer will only come from the deer that you process. This is peace of mind and good insurance against an Escherichia Coli O157:H7 outbreak in your house. While industrial might does drive price down, it does not drive the quality up (Pink Slime anyone?).
Filling your own freezer with a buck allows you to save a few dollars, have peace of mind that the food is clean, and it will give you the satisfaction that you can independently start to feed your family apart from the current food system—this is home economics at its finest. Consider adding the book title Raising a Calf for Beef as it will deepen your respect for life as you live out the circle through its conclusion, and you will nourish the lives for whom you are responsible sitting around your dinner table.
Pro Deo et Patria
Deer Processing from Gut it, Cut it, Cook it by Eric Fromm and Al Cambronne from Krause Publications, a subsidiary of F&W Media, Inc (All rights reserved). The graphic is republished with permission. http://www.shopdeerhunting.com/gut-it-cut-it-cook-it
Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice. You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes. Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.