I'm astonished to see the outcry in England over a store chain that's selling squirrel meat. The Daily Mail reports:
Once a staple of the national diet, it is said to have a nutty flavour and can be cooked in soups, pies and casseroles.
But animal welfare group Viva has accused Budgens of cashing in on a 'wildlife massacre' by putting grey squirrel back on the menu.
Viva founder and zoologist Juliet Gellatley said: 'Culls of thousands of grey squirrels by so-called conservation groups to boost populations of red squirrels are irrational, inhumane and destined to fail, so it is very sad that Budgens are allowing profit to be made from wildlife massacre.
'If this store is attempting to stand out from the crowd by selling squirrel, the only message they are giving out is that they are happy to have the blood of a beautiful wild animal on their hands for the sake of a few quid.'
Actress and Viva patron Jenny Seagrove also condemned the sale, saying: 'It is unbelievable that our wild grey squirrels are now being killed and packaged up for sale in such high street stores.
'Anyone who cares about wildlife, as I do, should be appalled at Budgens for allowing this. It seems that no animal is to be spared falling victim to such companies' marketing ploys. What gruesome product will be next to grace our food aisles? Blackbird, fieldmouse or mole?'
. . .
Henry Atwell, a butcher from Walton, Somerset, is selling ten squirrels a week at less than £3 each.
He said: 'To start with, customers try it through novelty, but they come back and buy more of them.
'Squirrel tastes similar to a rabbit. Some people say they taste a bit nutty but I don't know if it's in the mind.'
There's more at the link.
For the benefit of my (many) readers in Britain, I should explain that here in the US, squirrel meat is part of the normal, everyday diet of millions of hunters. There are defined squirrel hunting seasons in many States, and it's considered part of the rites of passage of young boys and girls to begin their hunting careers by bringing down a mess of squirrels for the pot.
I can vividly recall taking over my first pastoral assignment in the US. I arrived at my new church on the first Sunday in October, to find most of the men wearing camouflage clothing and carrying shotguns racked across the back windows of their pickup trucks. For a brief, horrified moment I wondered whether the shotguns were for use in case I preached a bad sermon that morning, only to be reassured that it was the first day of squirrel season, and the local sportsmen intended to head for the woods the moment church was over! (And, yes, they brought me several brace of squirrel for my supper that night!)
I suggest that the spokesladies for Viva quoted in the Daily Mail article had better stay away from the Southern states of the US during squirrel season. Not only would the slaughter drive them mad, but if they commented here as they do in England, they might find themselves locked up for psychiatric testing! I mean . . . what else are squirrels good for, if not for eating with a mess of pepper gravy, beans, greens and Dutch oven-baked biscuits? Mmm-mmm! Yum!
(No, they don't taste like chicken!)