Subsistence Living

Hunters and Gatherers

2013-02-05 10.20.10

Food for the pot (Picture by Eric Cooper)

Growing up back home, meat and vegetables often came from your own provisions, getting to a grocery store became more and more prominent as I grew up, but most peoples families still subsidized the pot by whatever we could get on our own.  Nearly everyone had a potato garden, and some grew a few more things, carrots, turnip, cabbage.  I remember a lot of people grew the Newfoundland Blue potato.  I’ve seen blue potatoes since, but those all seem to have blue flesh too, the ones we had just had blue veins running through the white flesh.

Of course Newfoundland was famous for its fish, and we all had salt fish put away, as well as dried and smoked caplin.  Will have to post another day about those topics.  But we also hunted.  Hunting wasn’t and isn’t a sport back home, at least not in the terms of the big hunting lodges.  People enjoy it yes, but we also hunt to eat.  With the salaries, or lack there of, or even lack of jobs or work back home, people hunted duck, geese, moose, caribou, turrs, seal, pretty much anything to help fill our bellies, including the lovely rabbit shown here (Technically there are no rabbits on Newfoundland Island, or weren’t at least, this is a Snowshoe Hare, but rabbit is what we called it and I always will).

People also weren’t into things for money either.  If you had plenty you shared, and got shared with in return.  I remember lots of trades of food over the years.  A quarter of moose for some vegetables from Bill Smith (Bill was the king gardener back home, probably still is, even if he is in his 80s!), some rabbits for a leg of mutton from Jim Phillips, and so on.

The meat and food was healthier too, wasn’t sitting in a cage being force fed to get fat, most of our meats were really lean, and our vegetables were fertilized with manure, seaweed and fish offal, not manufactured chemicals.

But really, we never thought about that, we just thought about fun in the outdoors, and getting food to keep us all through the long winter.  I’d give a lot to be sitting down to the smell of that rabbit smothered in onions wafting from the roaster now.