Story and Photos by Patrick Bird
In the heart of Santa Ana, Jim Coutts has a secret most people in suburban California would consider strange. At a time when convenience rules, the local electrician only eats meat that he hunts and kills himself.
Coutts spends over 100 days every year in the forest hunting, trapping, and scavenging for “anything and everything that will keep me alive and healthy.”
With more than one-third of Americans suffering from obesity, hunters today are looking to take the commercial farm out of the equation and supply their own, healthier meats.
Commercial meat production is the largest segment of the agricultural industry in the U.S., producing nearly 100 billion pounds of meat each year. These animals are often forced to live in confined spaces, where they are force-fed and injected with large amounts of hormones and antibiotics. Physicians for Social Responsibility estimates that 80 percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are used on these animals.
Researchers have linked commercial meat production to dietary diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity, along with the industry’s contribution to antibiotic resistance.
Paul Stemmer, a physician in Ridgecrest, Calif. is treating more patients than ever that are resistant to antibiotics. “It’s obvious that processed meats are playing a role,” he said. Every year in the U.S. about 23,000 people die from infections that are resistant to antibiotics.
By harvesting his own meat and not relying on farmers and distributors, Coutts is attempting to eliminate these health risks. Coutts said he is involved in every step: field to table. “Unlike most people, I know where my food comes from.”
This idea of eating only what you kill is gaining popularity in the U.S. Celebrity advocates like Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Rogan have both touted its life-changing benefits. Zuckerberg and Rogan are like the majority of American hunters today.
More say they hunt “for the food than for sport,” according to a study conducted by Responsive Management, a natural resource survey research firm.
Hunting for Coutts is a way to fill his freezer with healthy food, not a sport where the end goal is a set of trophy antlers on the wall. “Above all else, I just want to know where my meat is coming from,” he said.