I have been thinking about kangaroos – eating them, to be precise. The whole industry is tanking across WA and Macro Meats from South Australia are the company selling us human grade roo meat in the supermarkets.
Recently Macro Meats upped the marketing from their Gourmet Game site to include a very sexy I Love Roo campaign; so while was I going on and on like a drain about the nutritionally dense qualities of this fabulous meat and its value as food-is-medicine, my argument was trumped instantly by a picture of a muscled chick wearing a sports-bra plastered with the legend ‘lean meat, lean body’.
I concede that Macro Meats have the marketing chops - but not the whole story. CLAs, or Conjugated Linoleic Acids, are the good fats that are found in the meat of a ruminant when omega 3, the green in all growing things, undertakes its complex transformative journey through the digestive processes of a rangeland grazed animal. Lamb from station country is high in CLAs and considered good tucker, but kangaroo meat registers 5 times richer in these good fats and makes excellent health sense as an anti-inflammatory food. It is anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic and brought to you only by ruminants grazed on biodiverse pasture – stock that are grain-fed or grazed on paddocks with limited plant variety register way lower on the CLA count.
Kangaroos, naturally, also score highly on all measurements made to register environmental sustainability. They live here, they are adapted to the arid lands and they have been a favourite protein choice of Australians for over 40,000 years.
It is only in the last 150 years or so that people have chosen to take kangaroos off the menu to both revere them as a National Symbol or shoot them for dog food or as Rangelands vermin. This is the Skippy Paradox; it makes no sense from a bio-security food or environmental sustainability angle and for anti-meat crusaders this muddled sentimentality doesn’t help kangaroos because wherever you stand in this thinking kangaroos carry on dying in enormous numbers. They die as a result of poor seasons and at the hands of farmers, pastoralists and Government conservation agencies as they safeguard their core business; growing (introduced) stock whilst attempting to minimise the total grazing pressure that leads to eroded land.
The raw pet food industry is diminishing with the only signs of growth being in the wild dog bait business; South Australia has an effective monopoly on selling us their roo meat; the roo leather industry is severely reduced despite its incredible qualities as leather and kangaroos are being shot and left to rot across agricultural and pastoral zones.
My desire is that we start to treat kangaroos with more respect. Rather than push roo corpses into holes in the ground, let us do the research to see if it is possible to manage numbers and benefit economically, socially and culturally from the situation in our severely depleted rangeland communities.
There are many anomalies surrounding the kangaroo industry and a lot of unexamined emotional issues that need to be dealt with before the kangaroo can take its rightful place as one of the most abundant and profound gifts the WA Rangelands has to offer to its own people and the world.