Donating Deer Meat to Food Banks?

The venison taken from the Deer of Upper Dublin is mostly donated to food banks.  So why won’t hunters eat it all or freeze it for later?  The article, How Wild is Your Game, from an author in Wisconsin puts a piercing laser light on the issue, however minuscule.

With DDT banned in 1972, the worry of the chemical concentrations moving up the “food chain” and causing havoc dissipated.  DDT is gone, but newer chemicals can be hazardous.

The author writes, ‘”… set my sights on a small buck, took aim and fired. The deer dropped in the field….. I reflected upon the reality of meat eating, life and death, venison chili, smoked meat, the combine that would be coming any day to harvest the beans, and how the flavor of deer meat can be influenced by what it consumes: wild native plants leading to a “gamey” taste or agricultural crops that can mellow the flavor and add a little more fat.

And then it occurred to me: This deer, like the eagles, was being exposed to the chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides used on this field and the majority of the 320 million acres (an area three times the size of California) of principal crops like corn and soybeans grown across the United States.

Unlike domesticated livestock, there was nothing keeping this deer or other wildlife from feeding in or traveling through fields immediately after chemicals were applied, or anytime thereafter. Considering this, the potential for the impact upon wildlife became looming.

Venison is typically referred to as “wild,” “natural” and “healthy” when describing both the source and quality of the meat. It is automatically assumed that because wild ranging game are free from the fences and confines of domestication, that they are less impacted by human contaminates and manipulation and are, therefore, better for you…..

However, is venison truly more “natural” and “healthy” then other meats? Could it qualify as “organic,” a label—unlike “natural”—that is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and backed by third party verification?  White-tailed deer could not be certified as organic in the wild because their diet cannot be monitored.

Ten million Wisconsin acres are cropland, and organic crops make up only half of one percent of that total. This means potentially 28 percent of the state is applied with chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides—and deer and wildlife have access to almost all of it. The real question, then, is whether this in any way threatens the health of deer and those of us who enjoy eating them….

Sean M. Strom, WDNR wildlife toxicologist, says, “While we have not tested white-tailed deer in many years, we have no reason to believe they are accumulating any type of environmental contaminant. Most herbicides and pesticides used today are not readily accumulated in muscle tissue and other organs like old DDT accumulated in fat tissue.”…..

[But the study Strom used had only a sample size of 8 deer] ….. The monitoring also did not test for other chemicals such as glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup), the most used herbicide in the United States, or atrazine and alachlor, currently banned by the European Union. Add to that the numerous other questions not addressed—Do older animals have a higher accumulation of contaminants due to increased exposure? Can these contaminants, including “inert ingredients,” combine in the body to create a toxic stew? Can diseases like cancer or reproductive problems be linked to specific toxins?—then the question becomes why even mention this dated study? The simple answer is, according to WDNR staff, this is the only science in Wisconsin addressing this issue….

While the scientific literature is ripe with studies on the influence of nutrition on antler size (albeit, probably a more significant question than contaminants, for some) and millions of dollars are spent on combating chronic wasting disease, the amount of research and money spent on agricultural chemical contamination in wild game meat is little to none……

…while the primary ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, may not pose a risk to wildlife, the inert ingredients like the surfactant polyethoxylated tallowmine, and/or a combination of these may, according to the American Chemical Society (2008). Furthermore, it is often difficult to directly correlate diseases like cancer or reproductive problems in deer or humans to specific toxins without lengthy testing occurring over many years. The science and monitoring of how these chemicals in our environment may or may not be impacting wildlife—even potentially the humans that eat them—remains a mystery.”‘  excerpted from:

Let’s not forget that to keep our lawns as nice as they are, a lot of chemicals are thrown on them.  And while deer do not eat the grass on our lawns, they do walk through it from time to time.  So how’s a little venison with your Roundup — can’t hurt or can it?


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