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All We Can Eat
Posted at 04:56 PM ET, 10/01/2012

Hunting pigeons, the ultimate in urban foraging?

Producing honey on the rooftop of an eight-story walk-up may no longer be enough for trend-conscious New Yorkers. Is hunting and gathering, Manhattan-style, the next big thing?

Jackson Landers and John Durant, with an editor and videographer from Prevention magazine in tow, were able to produce a meal sourced almost exclusively with ingredients from a hunting trip on the Upper East Side — well, if you call throwing rocks at pigeons hunting.

Warning: The video contains graphic hunting and cooking scenes.

Landers, a professional hunter and author of “Eating Aliens,” and Durant, a self-proclaimed caveman, prepared a meal of city pigeon and apples for the magazine, all without leaving the neighborhood.

“The pigeon hunt was an experiment. A successful one, I might add,” Landers told AWCE in an e-mail. “Most of my audience consists of city-dwellers who are trying to involve wild food in their diets and make hunting a part of their lives, but the basic geography makes it difficult. I wanted to see whether the single most common species of wildlife encountered in large cities could really be hunted for food — and whether it was worth eating.”
Pigeon: It’s what’s for dinner? (Courtesy of Project PigeonWatch)

Landers said the pigeon was surprisingly palatable, “as good as any mourning dove I have ever eaten.”

In his book released last month, Landers chronicles his adventures hunting and eating invasive species — non-native animals that, for a variety of reasons, have found a home in the United States and are disturbing traditional ecosystems.

The type of pigeon in most cities is not native to the States and has few natural predators to keep its population in check. Thus Landers encourages hunting as a means of population control.

The wild boar, tilapia and Canadian geese in Landers’s book sound much more appetizing than street-dwelling pigeon (though iguana conjures a bad version of alligator).

The practice, he admits, will never be mainstream. Pigeons can accumulate high levels of lead, which potential hunters should be aware of.

But Landers says the practicality of city pigeons may be a draw for some people.

“There are so many people right now who want to eat meat but who question the ethics of farmed meat. Killing an invasive species in a fair hunt is a way of putting meat in their diets without compromising their values. I think that if just a few people in different cities around the country decide to trade the factory-farmed chicken in their diets for free-range city squab then this exercise will have been a success.”

By Cara Kelly  |  04:56 PM ET, 10/01/2012

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