Ted Nugent Will Not Be Having Thanksgiving With Jonathan Safran Foer
- Cole Louison / photo: CMT
Ted Nugent is a long-time hunter, rocker, and sheriff with 30 million records and 60 years of sobriety. He's also a long-time opponent of factory farms and a loud advocate of grow and (especially) hunt your own. (Obviously, he will not be sharing a table this Thanksgiving with Jonathan Safran Foer.) Recently the still-touring Nugent called from his Michigan ranch to talk turkey farming, waste-management, and how hunting will save America. Nugent speaks:
Are you . . . organic?
We're hard-core organic.
How did that come about?
Well, in my 20s I took a terminally ill teenager hunting-he was dying of leukemia and that was his last wish, hunting with Uncle Ted-and after that I started examining just this infestation of chemicals and toxins everything, in our cabinetry, in our pillows and bedding, and the just vile processing of foodstuffs. From infancy these poor children are inundated with processed chemicals, and of course everything's based on convenience and marketing, which even makes kids think cancer is cool: "Light one of these babies up and you'll really be sexy." Jesus Christ.
You've been a hunter all your life . . .
Since I could walk, yeah.
Which can't be too popular amongst the rock stars.
Yeah. In the 60s I was watching all of these numb nuts in the world of entertainment just puking and dying and stinking and drooling and making dickheads out of themselves, and they'd make fun of me for being a shooter. But meanwhile, they're dropping like flies and I was like 'Wait a minute. I'm really healthy, and I'm really happy . . . So funk you.'
Why do you advocate hunting as a way of life?
Hunting is really about a higher level of awareness of one's consumerism. It's one of the last perfect functions a human being can participate in, consuming lick for lick. That's what environmentalism should be about-responsible cause and effect with minimal waste. And that's the whistle that needs to be blown the loudest right now: a wasteful nation just gaga over convenience, gluttony, and consumerism. We need to be conciencous about the amount of waste we generate. It's astounding-the amount of food that America wastes and the fact that America's the fattest nation in the world.
Why are you such a long-time vocal opponent of turkey and chicken farms?
Because most of the birds live in miserable conditions. I mean, God bless farmers and God bless turkeys-they're a delicious funkin' fowl-but just the amount of feces they consume in typical poultry operation is off the charts insane. And free-range is a step in the right direction, but ultimately everybody should be hunting pheasants and quails and doves and woodcock and grouse. I've never eaten a grouse in my life that ate its own shit, but I can guarantee you've never had a piece of turkey that didn't eat it's own shit.
What's something I can do, as a guy whose going to the store after work today?
You should go get your Goddamn shotgun and return to the great outdoors! Because I guarantee you that-where are you, Manhattan?
I Goddamned guarantee you that within a half hour of where you are right now there's good water fowl and deer hunting, and some good pheasant, quail, and dove hunting. Kill your own fowl! I'm not talking about a bigger cage. I'm talking about truly free range. And it's not just healthier, and tastier. The actual act of hunting and gathering is spiritually invigorating. It'll just make you feel better.
What can consumers do to improve the food we buy?
We need to talk more about the quality of our diet and environment, and how we grow that which is in our diet. It's not going to happen overnight, because we're still so entrenched in the Industrial Revolution that the system's going to take another 25 to 50 years to upgrade in a meaningful way. It can be done, but we have to shape the dialog.
Have you seen improvements in the meat industry?
Yes. There are upgrades taking place, where there's free-range chicken operations that are much healthier, much cleaner. Same with cattle and hot operations. We can't be overwhelmingly demanding, because if we force chicken farmers to change overnight, that Chicken McNugget'll cost $29.95. But they're improving, and they're becoming more environmentally conscientious, and I think at some point the consumers have to demand that. Not the bureaucrats, but we the people.
What about shopping for food for the holidays?
Well, certainly you're going to pay a premium for free-range beef and chicken, and that's much healthier. But my number one recommendation: Central Park with a pellet rifle. Or a rubber band and some big paper clips. Start shooting funking pigeons. That's called squab, baby!
Godspeed with garlic 'n butter. Live it up.