Thursday, August 12, 2010

On the liquid diet

 I was opening the blinds yesterday morning and happened to see this bald-faced hornet (thank you Dan the Bee Man) fly into a spider's web outside our window. 

In the 30 seconds or so that it took for me to retrieve my camera, the spider had firmly wrapped its prey in a dense cocoon of silk. 

Although tightly bound, the hornet was very much alive.

I don't mind spiders as I'd much prefer to have them in the vicinity than hordes of flies and mosquitoes. I tend to think of them as natural pest control measures. But I'll admit that I was not without sympathy when the spider moved in to inject a lethal dose of venom. It was not a quick death.
I thought about suffering a lot before our trip to Africa last year. I'm sufficiently far enough removed from the death of the animals we eat as food to find the process of dying (even for consumption) and perhaps more importantly, the suffering,  to be relatively appalling. Or maybe appalling is the wrong word. Significantly disturbed might be a better explanation. In Africa, our guide explained that a cape buffalo, taken down by lions, might live for several hours. It's only when the lions have started consuming the vital organs (after eating their way through the rest of the animal), that the buffalo will finally succumb. He said that the bellowing of the buffalo would go on for hours. I worried about seeing the "Circle of Life" play out on safari. Maybe if I didn't see it, I could pretend that it didn't happen each and every day? I don't know. I suppose we often apply the same standard of thinking to the food we eat. 

We never did see a kill in Botswana so my theories weren't put to the test. I'm not sure if I was relieved or disappointed. 


  1. Oh my...I wouldn't be able to handle the bellowing of a dying buffalo either. I see an ant drowning in the dog's outside water dish & I jump to the rescue because I can't bare to think of something suffering. Steve hunts - & I enjoy knowing where our meat came from, what it ate, & how it lived - but he's constantly reassuring me that the wild game he shoots (with rifle or bow) die quickly.

  2. Christina,

    I don't suppose you and Steve would like to move to the Pacific Northwest? Because we could really use some more chicken-keeping, dog-owning, bb gun-toting nature folks here. I am so serious! Please inform Steve that I would like to borrow his mad bb gun skills the next time you guys head west.

    I've always admired subsistence hunters that can kill cleanly and responsibly. Managed well, wild game is a valuable resource. There is something to be said of an animal that enjoys a cage-free, farm-free existence, and yet is also part of the nature cycle. It certainly has far less of an impact on the natural environment than, say, a massive feed lot in Iowa.

    I told Chris a few years ago that I want to hunt something (with the express purpose of consuming it). Fish don't count. In the meantime, that means I need to learn how to properly use a gun. :)

  3. relieved. I would be relived. I can't watch that stuff on tv even...lalalala I sing with my eyes closed and my ears shut tight!