Food security takes on new meaning when you live on an island.
Especially an island in the middle of the North Atlantic.
But a recent weekend in Petty Harbour was bookended by two examples of traditional fishing and hunting that made me feel reassured, even hopeful.
On the Friday morning I was heading over to the vinegar shed to do some bottling when I noticed a bit of a crowd on the southside of the wharf. They were oogling a massive tuna (legally) landed by a local family (two sons and their dad). The fish was destined for Spain.
I started chatting to a couple watching the show; he told me when he was a boy in the early 70s he landed a tuna with a friend in Trinity Bay. That fish too was hung up on the wharf – the difference being that 50 years ago the entire community was able to slice off a steak or two.
After a few hours bottling, I was amazed to see ANOTHER tuna being cleaned. This one hadn’t yet had the head removed (which was done, relatively quickly with a chain saw), and then the fishermen proceeded to relieve the fish of its internal organs. The liver and head, I was told, are sent to Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for tests. The rest of the offal was dumped in the harbour to some delighted seagulls.
On Sunday, back to the vinegar shed for labelling (a self-appointed acid queen’s work is never done). This time, the activity was confined to a shed on the wharf – I was tipped off by a bloody moose’s head sitting on the handlebars of an ATV. Next to the ATV, a massive hairy carcass in a pick-up. In the shed itself, the fruits of their labour, several massive haunches of wild meat being meticulously butchered by a smiling woman in her twenties, ably assisted by a group of fellow happy hunters.
The governmental website says there are approximately 120,000 moose on the island; it was introduced back in the late 1800s as, you guessed it, a source of food. The website also claims that moose hunters have a greater success rate than most marriages. Hilarious.
Newfoundland (and Labrador) is the only province in Canada that allows restaurants to serve wild game. So as a tourist, you can have a moose burger without going to all the work.
But knowing that there are folks of all ages around that know how to hunt AND butcher AND cook moose makes me feel, dare I say it, (food) secure.