Take. Bless. Break. Give.

Nature Preservation & Ethical Meat Consumption

Far from the days of hunting and gathering, many of us have to drive to our closest grocery store and pick food off the shelf. As businesses and factories have streamlined the meat processing and fishing industry, it is not hard to take food availability for granted. The current consumption rate of meat and fish in the United States alone has caused growing environmental concern. One group has found a way they can personally help not only the environment but also the community.

Rev. Rod Clark from the Diocese of West Texas and Rev. Christian Baron from the Diocese of Western Michigan founded the Order of Naucratius. The idea came from being more conscious of the meat we consume and its impact on the environment. The organization is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and believes that meat and fish are sacred gifts from God and shared with those in need.

The order goes by three rules of life: prayer, conservation, and charity. Rod Snell, a member of the organization, talked about the importance of sharing food with others while maintaining the balance of consumption and preservation of nature.

“First of all, we pray when we’re hunting,” he said. “We’re in God’s country, so it’s wonderful to be outdoors hunting and fishing. And so, while we’re outdoors, of course, we’re very mindful of the Holy Spirit. And then, if we’re able to harvest an animal, we pray over the animal after we harvest it.”

Members of the order often hunt to help with wildlife management. Often, certain species need to be hunted to maintain the herd’s health and not overpopulate the ecosystem. Some members hunt on their own land for various animals like whitetail deer, nilgai, feral pigs, and turkey. Ethically hunting some of these animals helps them manage their estates better and keep the environment balanced.

The order usually donates what meat they’ve hunted and processed to nonprofit organizations such as the local food bank and Loaves and Fishes. Occasionally, there will be particular gatherings to show gratitude towards members of the community. Clark sometimes takes some of the meat from the Order and uses it for cooking breakfast tacos for members of the U.S. Border Patrol. Some members, such as Snell, will take their initiative outside of the organization. Snell likes to take his wife and children and go to a neighborhood in need to hand out some meat they have. 

“It’s really a great thing they’re so appreciative and so thankful,” he said. “And when we tell them that it’s deer meat, I mean, their eyes light up. They know exactly what they’re getting because they know it’s fresh, it’s organic, it’s lean meat, it’s very healthy for you.”

Still, there will occasionally be some meat left over, so the order will contact Trinity Oaks, an affiliated organization in San Antonio.

“If we have excess meat and we’re not sure what to do with it, we can always call them,” Snell said. “They’ll send a truck down from San Antonio, and they’ll pick up 1,000 pounds or 2,000 pounds of meat and take it back up to their processing facility. There we’re just a little drop in the bucket. They have a 10,000-square-foot facility where they process thousands of pounds of meat that people donate on a daily basis.”

As much good as the organization does, they were not left unaffected by COVID-19. During the pandemic’s peak, the order could not harvest as much as they usually do due to restrictions. Fortunately, the organization is starting to regain some traction and encourages everyone to join.

“We’re just simple guys that like to hunt and fish, and we love the outdoors, and we love God, and we love to spread ministry,” Snell said. “Women are also invited to participate … and kids too. Kids love to hunt and fish, and it’s really healthy to get them outdoors get them away from video games and all the distractions of social media in this day and age. Anything you can do to raise your kid according to the Bible and God’s creation, getting them out there, it’s special.”

Faith Chua