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Environmentalists eat too.

I’m an environmentalist. I like to eat.

And I don’t see a conflict between those two elements of my nature. In fact, I see more symbiosis than parasitism in what’s necessary to feed both my appreciation for the natural beauty of this world and my physical needs for nutrition.

But it gets more complicated.

I like to fish, and I do not want to see the pristine steams we wade into in search of our favorite piscatorial pursuit — trout — polluted by runoff from parking lots, septic tanks, industrial sites or — farms.

I also know that farmers don’t want that either and take exceptional precautions to keep crop protection chemicals in the fields and away from the water. They use grassed waterways, reduced tillage, cover crops and terraces, to name just a few. And they are careful with chemistry. It makes sense to them to conserve the water they also use for production, health and recreation, and it makes economic sense to apply chemicals only as necessary.

I haven’t hunted in years. I have no objections to hunting, however, and count the days I spent as a kid following a beagle or an English setter among my most vivid memories. I like venison and would probably enjoy a fried rabbit leg were one offered to me. Quail is a delicacy. Consequently, I think preserving grasslands and forests is a good idea so future generations can appreciate similar memories.

I prefer natural fibers to synthetics. I think they are greener. I know they feel better on my skin. They come from renewable resources — soil, sun, seed and water. And wool comes from a sheep that simply eats more grass and grows another coat.

My shoes, belts and wallet are leather. I love a good steak. A juicy hamburger, grilled in my backyard and topped off with a fresh, locally grown tomato, some lettuce, a slice of sweet onion and a little mustard, is probably my favorite food. Ham and eggs are pretty good, too.

Cruelty to animals is deplorable, indefensible. But the ranchers I know go to extraordinary lengths to treat their animals humanely. They feed them well, keep them healthy and they don’t abuse them.

I am an environmentalist. I believe we need to curb pollution, find ways to conserve energy, water, soil and forestland. I also appreciate good food—meats and vegetables—the production of which demands that farmers and ranchers take extraordinary precautions to conserve the natural resources they rely on to feed the rest of us.

I am an environmentalist. So are they.

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