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LIANE HANSEN, host:

The growing interest in local and sustainable foods has in some cases revived an interest in hunting. WEEKEND EDITION's food commentator Bonny Wolf recently took a walk on the wild side.

BONNY WOLF: The first wild game dinner I ever went to was in 1973. The second one was last week. In the 37 years between meals, public perception of hunting has changed.

Oddly, an overwhelming majority of Americans approve of hunting, while there are actually fewer hunters. Many states rely on hunting to control the deer population and are recruiting new hunters. They're getting help.

Some young urban dwellers are getting in touch with their inner hunter. A couple of 20-somethings in San Francisco started the Bull Moose Hunting Society and I quote "for those of us who have lost our instincts, our predatory skills and our connection to the wild world."

Michael Pollan's book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and other writings, make a good case for conscious eating awareness of what you eat, where it comes from and where you fit into the food chain. If you eat meat, your choices are grass-fed, free-range operations, factory farms or hunting.

As the food world was being Michael Pollanized, my husband and I began renting a house on Maryland's Eastern Shore. I quickly became all about nature eating only local corn, cooking fish caught nearby, searching the woods for wild persimmons.

Hunting and gathering is part of the natural rhythm in a place blessed with abundant water and rich farmland. For some it's sport. For others it's survival. For all, it's a better way to eat. Local. Organic. Free range. So, when a friend at the shore offered to host a game dinner, I was well game.

None of the guests have to hunt to feed their families. But they do eat what they kill or share with it others. For which I am grateful. Appetizers were venison meatballs and goose taquitos, followed by stuffed dove breasts wrapped in bacon.

Will Shannahan is an artist in the kitchen as well as the field. His grilled goose was delicious and his venison puts the tender in tenderloin.

The hunters I've talked to have tremendous respect for the animals they hunt. One said he feels a moment of sadness when he takes a deer and promises the animal he won't waste any of its meat. Another says the worst thing a hunter can do is to cripple an animal.

I doubt I'll take up hunting, but now that I know my place in the food chain, I won't wait so long between game dinners.

HANSEN: Bonny Wolf is the author of "Talking with My Mouth Full." Currently she's working on a book about the foods at Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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