Award-winning outdoor writer Bruce Ingram and his wife Elaine have authored a new book explaining how they have enjoyed a healthy diet and lifestyle for many years by hunting, fishing, raising heritage chickens, growing fruits and vegetables, and foraging in the forests around their Southwest Virginia home.
The word “Locavore” combines the Latin roots for local and devour, referring to a lifestyle choice in which people obtain as much of their diet from local sources as possible. The Ingrams live on 38 acres near Troutville, in Botetourt County.
They write wild game food columns jointly, and Bruce is the author of fishing and paddling guides to several major Virginia rivers, including the James, the New, the Potomac, and the Rappahannock and Shenandoah.
In a series of 25 explanatory chapters, the Ingrams explain how to hunt, field-dress, and prepare wild game, ranging from deer to wild turkeys to squirrels and rabbits; how to catch bass, trout, and panfish; how to gather wild berries, nuts, and mushrooms; how to grow vegetables and fruits and protect them from other foragers such as deer; and how to raise heritage chickens and protect them, as well, from predators that could include opossums, foxes, and hawks.
The book features dozens of tasty and healthful recipes. They include more than 20 ways to cook and enjoy venison; several ways to savor squirrels and rabbits; a dozen recipes for wild berry and fruit dishes, including pancakes, waffles, cakes, breads, jams, and cookies; and still more recipes for preparing wild nuts, mushrooms, and fresh-water fish.
“In the summer, Elaine and I gather ten or eleven gallons of wild berries,” writes Bruce Ingram. “Come fall, we gather persimmons, pawpaws, grapes, black walnuts, and hickory nuts. We also grow apples, cherries, and crabapples in our backyard and vegetables in our garden, and raise chickens. We shop at a local supermarket for many of our vegetables because we can’t grow enough in the summer to supply our year-long needs. Whenever possible, we go to farmer’s markets to buy locally grown foodstuffs. I don’t know what the cost of a store-bought frozen pie or a cake is, and I don’t care.
“The reasons I hunt for food, and the reasons we gather wild fruits and nuts, tend a garden and fruit trees, and raise chickens really has nothing to do with how much money we save. It’s because being a locavore makes sense on so many levels. Hunting, fishing, gathering, growing, and raising chickens is great mentally and physically for any individual, couple, or family with children. I am 64 years old and am filled with energy and love life. Even though I am three years past retirement as a public school teacher, I don’t want to retire; I love going to work every day and helping young people learn.
“While out hunting, fishing, and gathering, I love to birdwatch, identify trees and wildlife, and be alone with my thoughts. The benefits of living this type of lifestyle cannot be quantified, but I do think it is a big part of the reason why I feel great mentally and physically, am rarely sick, and have a joy for life.”