Steven Rinella should stick to mushrooms.Evan Sung/The New York Times/ReduxSteven Rinella’s op-ed piece in today’s Times, in which the Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine author makes the case that hunters are not really hobbyists who enjoy killing animals, but rather proto-locavores, struck us as disingenuous on so many levels that we had to respond to it. First, Rinella wraps himself in green language as if it were a Thinsulate camo parka. “Hunters are the original locavores,” Rinella writes, bragging that his family used to eat three or four deer a year, along with various other unlucky birds and squirrels, and that he “carried that subsistence aesthetic into adulthood.” Subsistence aesthetic! Rinella’s from Twin Lake, Michigan! We would bet the closest he got to subsistence culture was running out of Pop-Tarts.
Then comes the inevitable phony concern with the dangerous swarms of deer that are threatening America (“whitetail deer cause $250 million in residential landscaping damage” — a problem we’re sure Rinella stays awake worrying about). Lastly, there is the old “we [hunters] are stewards of the land” argument. That much is true: Conservation in the Bush era has amounted mostly to “protecting” big areas as free-fire zones for hunters in exchange for the massive revenues in licensing states get. We’ve enjoyed Rinella’s muscular prose style and he-man expositions in glossy magazines, but if he’s going to set himself up as a conservation pundit, the least he could do would be to give us the real reason why.
Locavore, Get Your Gun [NYT]