The Unexpected Benefits of Supplementing Your Diet With Game Meat and Homegrown Foods

Venison steak on grilled vegetables on cutting board

Hunting, fishing and gardening has been growing in popularity over the past few years. A lot of us have picked up new hobbies since the pandemic. We’ve come back to the importance of getting outside and into nature for the sake of our health.

Many of us have also found it increasingly necessary to promote our self-reliance wherever possible in an unpredictable world. Growing or hunting your own food is a hobby and skill with real advantages for your food security, health, the environment, and more.

There are many benefits to adding game meat and homegrown produce to your diet. When you know exactly where your food comes from, you are taking control of your health. It’s more sustainable than store-bought food. You’re also increasing your self-reliance by putting your own food on the table.

Better Nutrition and Overall Health

Wild game, fish, and homegrown produce can be much better for your health than store-bought food. Most meat in the supermarket has been pumped with antibiotics and hormones. Farmed fish have been found to be full of microplastics. Vegetables may have been sprayed with all sorts of pesticides that are harmful.

You can avoid all of these health risks with hunting, fishing and gardening. There are added benefits to these activities, as well, such as exercise and better mood.

Health Benefits of Hunting and Fishing

Fishing is a great stress reliever. While it may not be the most physically active outdoors hobby, it still provides numerous benefits to the mind and body. Time spent in nature is a natural antidepressant and has been found to help fight disease.

Hunting increases your stamina, strength and mental focus. It can require plenty of time walking and carrying equipment and game through the woods, which is good exercise. The requirement of being still for long periods of time and quieting the mind is also a great contributor to a mindful lifestyle.

Health Benefits of Home Gardening

I find it incredibly grounding to get my hands in some soil. It’s mindful, intentional and soothing. Gardening has a lot of mental health benefits. It is time that you can take out of your day to just be with the earth. You’ll find that it relieves stress and brings you back to your center.

Gardening is an easy, and more inexpensive, way to make sure that the produce you consume is organic. You will know exactly what you’ve used in your own garden! This way you can avoid unnamed chemical residues on your food.

Living More Sustainably

Sustainability means to use resources without depleting them. Some of the biggest environmental concerns in our society are related to our food supplies. You can take action to create a more sustainable world by changing where your food comes from.

By growing some of your produce at home, you’re bypassing the ecological issues of the factory farm industry. Most large-scale farms in the United States use an approach called monocropping. This means to repeatedly plant a single crop, instead of diversifying the fields. Monocropping has negative consequences and degrades the health of soil. These crops are then at a greater health risk, requiring more toxic pesticides that harm pollinators (and humans).

Instead of buying cuts of meat wrapped in single-use plastic from the grocery store, hunting or fishing for your own is more sustainable. Factory meat farming produces waste, uses a lot of water, creates emissions, and doesn’t focus on the well-being of the animals. Hunting and fishing for your own meat solves all of those problems. It offers a greater respect to the animals we rely on for nourishment.

Helping Wildlife Conservation

Male wild turkey strutting

A healthy ecosystem has a balance of different species, as well as a balance between predators and prey. When there is a balance of animal species, the entire system is able to work the way it should. Wildlife conservation requires maintaining the balance of all living things, from plant to insect to animal, so that they all may thrive.

Hunters contribute to conservation programs through the fees from their licenses. This money will go to support rewilding efforts and wildlife maintenance. Ethical hunting is necessary to keep wildlife populations healthy. Many hunter-backed wild game organizations have helped restore ecosystems and wildlife numbers through conservation programs.

Fishermen have a code of conduct to maintain healthy fisheries. By fishing in-season, only taking what you will eat, purchasing a license, and advocating for waterways, fishermen can help with conservation.

Your home garden can benefit wildlife by providing habitat and resources. Flowering plants will attract and help pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Plants can also provide cover and places for small animals to raise their young.

Improving Self-Reliance

We have all seen the shelves at our local supermarkets become barren because of supply and demand issues since the pandemic. You can remove the supply chain’s impact on you by providing your own food. Adding wild game and homegrown produce to your routine increases your self-reliance and stability.

You will also save money in the long-run. Of course there will be start-up costs, but after the initial investment, you can save a lot of money per year. This is especially true with game such as deer, where bringing home an entire animal will provide quite a bit of food and resources. Similarly, a garden will be renewable year after year and provide you with plentiful food and seeds. None of this requires a costly trip to the grocery store!

How to Start Growing Food at Home

With a bit of planning, some dedication, and a bit of time, you can start growing your own food from your home. Here’s some tips to get you started.

  • Start small. You don’t need to be growing 100% of your produce from home right away, but you can work up to that! Building slowly will allow you to figure out how much time you want to put into it without any overwhelm.
  • Make a plan. Decide what you want to grow and research when it should be started. Each climate area will have different growing requirements. If you don’t have a suitable plot of land, you can also use a raised bed or even planters. Choose a space that receives about six hours of sunlight per day.
  • Get your supplies. You can pick up everything you need at a hardware or home improvement store. For a small vegetable garden, you’ll want a few tools: gardening gloves, a trowel for digging, a rake for preparing beds, good soil, and a watering system such as a handheld can or sprinklers. Finally, you’ll need seeds!

Vegetable garden in a back yard

How to Start Fishing

The first thing you need to do to get started fishing is to pick up a license and figure out where you can fish in your area.

Once you figure out where you want to fish, you just need to get your starting equipment. This will consist of only a few things, such as a fishing rod and reel, fishing line, and lures.

You can also go on a guided fishing trip in many places and receive professional instruction.

How to Start Hunting Wild Game

A sporting good store can get you set up with the supplies you need to get started hunting. Most importantly, you want to be educated on safety and ethics when you first start hunting. Start by taking a hunter education course.

Make sure you read up, and possibly seek out a mentor. Join a local hunter’s club or ask friends to bring you along on their trips. Experienced hunters will have plenty of knowledge to pass onto you to make you a more skillful hunter. You can make hunting a family-friendly activity, as well, by bringing the kids along and teaching them everything they need to know. This way, the whole family can hunt together.