By Kim Uslin
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College recently hosted the first half of the second annual Chestertown Locavore Lit Festival, a festival which celebrates natural food, cooking, and agriculture, and the literature associated with it. The theme of this year’s Festival is “Wild Foods.” To better commemorate this large topic, the Center for Environment and Society decided to divide the Festival into two themed parts: hunting in the fall, and wild plants and other natural foods in the spring.
The first event of the two-part celebration took place on Friday evening with a lecture entitled “Hunting: A Matter of Life and Death,” by Drew University Professor Dr. Marc Boglioli. Boglioli’s lecture explored attitudes toward hunting in Vermont, both of the hunters themselves and anti-hunting activists as researched in his book, A Matter of Life and Death: Hunting in Contemporary Vermont. His research focused specifically on deer camps and the stigmas associated with them, such as misogynistic perspectives and an obsession with killing. His findings, however, revealed that deer hunters in Vermont are separatist rather than misogynist and view the deer camps as an escape from the compulsory competition associated with gender in society. “Deer camp is a liminal place where men are free to act in ways counter to the dominant societal expectations,” said Boglioli.
Additionally, he described the hunters’ approach to nature as respectful rather than exploitative. The professor, who grew up in a rural community in which hunting was widely accepted, has always been interested in the subject. “I was always somewhat ambivalent about how I saw hunters talking and acting about hunting, whether or not they respected the animals” said Boglioli.
The Vermont hunters he interviewed were for the most part “simultaneously respectful and consumptive.” While Boglioli did not mean to present an either pro- or anti-hunting stance in his book, he feels that the results of his research seemed to put the practice in a positive light.
“It’s important for people to understand hunting from the perspectives of hunters, especially in a rural community. Eating by its very nature creates a moral dilemma. I can certainly understand how a person might witness something (such as the coyote-killing competitions discussed in the lecture) and say ‘Oh, gosh, hunting is horrible.’ In situations where hunters are killing for purely sporting reasons, I agree that it is. For many hunters, however, it’s part of that big process of harvesting natural resources but being very mindful in the ways that one goes about it,” said Boglioli.
The second part of this weekend’s celebration was a cooking demonstration entitled “Wild Charcuterie: Making the Most of Your Quarry.” The demonstration held on Saturday afternoon in the Rose O’Neil Literary House featured the cooking talents of WC Anthropology professor Dr. Bill Schindler and lecturer Mark Wiest. The purpose of the demonstration was to educate people on ways in which they could use commonly discarded parts of the animals they hunt. Schindler and Wiest cooked such dishes as Goose Confit, Deer Heart Tartare, and Deer Liver Pate.
Environmental Studies major sophomore Katherine Wares described the experience. “While it was a little gross, it was interesting to see the demonstrators prepare dishes that we wouldn’t normally eat. It was very informative because our ancestors may have prepared food the same way.” The second half of the festival, which explores other wild foods, begins on March 29.