Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Ain't Playing Games!

The past two weeks I have been completely preoccupied. I graded over 125 student essays, read over 125 student reflections, and helped over 125 students prepare for the portfolio process and the end of the semester--all the while reading The Hunger Games trilogy.

Needless to say, I am exhausted.

But I am satisfied.

With the end of the semester. And with how the Hunger Games trilogy ends.

I could do a book review, give spoiler alerts, forecast how the movies will be different from the books, and try to convince you to read them, but that's a waste.

Really all I want to talk about is the food.

These YA books portray a strong female main character, have bomb-ass action scenes, and perfectly blend Harry Potter with Twilight, but what I love the most is when the food appears.

I don't think it's supposed to be the highlights of the book, seeing that most characters are starving, but I'm thoroughly intrigued that an author has taken on describing high-end food while (un)consciously taking on world hunger as an issue.

Of course, I'm torn. I want more descriptions of the lamb stew Katniss loves. I want to taste Peeta's family's bread. At the same time, I'm frustrated by how many families are starving while others are getting their fill and much, much more.

Everyone should have equal access to good food. Be in it a fictional trilogy or, more importantly, in reality.

Reading The Hunger Games was the first time I've seen food highlighted in a YA novel. It confirmed for me how food does form culture, set social classes apart, and gives us the nutrition we need. I knew all those things, obviously, but seeing them play out in a YA novel was truly compelling for me.

And as I was thinking about this blog post and researching, I came across several sites that developed recipes based on The Hunger Games. Fictional Food is pretty rad. But this recipe adapted from Mark Bittman for the lamb stew has me quite smitten.

But then I feel guilty. Not everyone can afford lamb.

Then there is the saving grace: The Hunger Games advocates hunting.

Alright, I'm on board.

My philosophy with meat is simple. If you can't respect the life of an animal, you shouldn't eat animals. I know that sounds like I'm vegan, which I could be, if not for the local farms that surround us. In other words, I want to be able to meet the animals I could be eating, I want to know that they are humanely raised, I want to cook and eat meat that has its bones in proper places because it reminds me of the sacrifice of a life for my life, and I want to "honor" the animal by appreciating how ALL of its parts provide edible, delicious food, clothing or shelter.

Besides buying from local farmers, such as Luginbill Family Farms or Omega Meats, the only other way to ensure completely honoring an animal is having the balls to be a hunter. Not a sport hunter, but a real hunter.

This is where Collins, author of The Hunger Games, got it right. Two of the main characters are hunters. And wildfowl hunters, in additional to small and big game hunters. That's pretty kick-ass awesome, in my opinion. What seems like a trivial action to get a potential "couple" engaged with one another, hunting takes on this beautiful theme--that hunting can provide for MANY people, that hunting isn't ethically wrong--it's a means to survival, and that hunting actually reconnects us with nature, others, and the self.

Any day in the week I'd take wild goose over a steak/hamburger at a restaurant where I have no idea how they procured it.

I respect animals. So much so, I'm toying with the notion of only eating meat when I know exactly where it came from. If I don't know, I eat vegetarian or, better yet, vegan.

The Hunger Games has made me feel like I've fragilely connected the worlds between left and right politics. And better yet, it made me committed to finding a stellar wildfowl recipe in honor of the premier of the movie on March 23, 2012.

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