May 1, 2014
Gourmet Gone Wild (GGW) is excited to announce a new leader as Ryan Griffith steps into the Director position. Griffith brings with her over 10 years of experience in working the non-profit conservation field, as well as a deep-rooted passion for local foods, hunting, and fishing.
“Gourmet Gone Wild does incredible work by bringing ‘locavores’ into the conservation movement. My hope is to expand the Program’s capacity and bring with it national recognition for the impact it is having on conserving natural resources through food awareness.”
Griffith, a Pennsylvania native, grew up in a family that hunted and fished, but still experienced the same disconnect from her food sources that many experience today.
“I knew theoretically where my food came from, but it wasn’t until I began fishing regularly while living in Alaska that I made the connection between what I was eating, where it came from, and how my food choices were affecting the planet. That’s when my conservation ethic really sank in. Reeling in my first 150-pound halibut off of the ocean floor made me appreciate my food sources and forced me to look honestly at what I could be doing better to protect critical habitat for our wild foods. Gourmet Gone Wild is a natural fit for my background in conservation, my love of wild game meats, and being outside.”
Gourmet Gone Wild, a program through the partnership of Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State University, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Boone and Crockett Club, and the generous support of the Glassen Foundation, works by connecting with urban and suburban constituencies to enhance their support for hunting and angling and build on their interests in gourmet and local foods.
GGW hosts events that introduce the concept of conservation, hunting, and angling to a new generation of conservationists by bringing the message to the table, literally. During each event, epicureans sample professionally prepared wild fish and game harvested in Michigan that are paired with local wine and beer, and learn about the health benefits of eating local. At the event, attendees also learn about the important role that hunters and anglers play in conserving each state’s natural resources.
The goals of the Gourmet Gone Wild program are:
- Awareness - Attract a new generation of lifelong conservationists by articulating the vital role that hunting and angling play to our natural resources, namely through wild meat sources.
- Image - Increase the number of people who support hunting and fishing and improve the public perception and image of hunters and anglers.
- Opportunity - Incite the curiosity and desire to harvest and prepare wild fish and game at home.
- Action - Instill passion to preserve and protect natural resources, an outdoor heritage, and the unique character of our region.
"We're introducing a whole new generation to natural resources and conservation through the cooking and tasting of wild game and fish," explains Jordan Burroughs, wildlife outreach specialist at Michigan State University. "Right now, our program is targeting young professionals - a niche demographic that we haven't traditionally reached out to."
Gourmet Gone Wild uses a two-prong approach to reaching out to those young professionals and getting them involved. In addition to the Gourmet Gone Wild food events, a “Gourmet Gone Wild-er” event is often held. These events provide hands-on opportunities to connect participants with hunting, fishing and conservation while continuing to highlight the culinary and health benefits of eating wild fish and game. Participants get to try an aspect of hunting such as archery or shooting, and fishing in a risk free and minimal commitment format. At the conclusion of these events, participants sample wild game or fish prepared by the GGW chef.
“It’s exciting to be a part of a Program that not only promotes a connection to your food sources, but also shows you how to harvest your own wild meat,” laughs Griffith, “it’s hunting and gathering - gourmet style.”
Griffith isn’t the only one in the office that has jumped state lines. Gourmet Gone Wild, originally a Michigan-only program, has recently expanded to include other states in its repertoire. Want to see if there is an upcoming Gourmet Gone Wild or Gourmet Gone Wild-er event near you? Have a gathering that you would like Gourmet Gone Wild to cater? Visit GGW’s website at www.gourmetgonewild.org.