Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kangaroo (Australia)

In the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto where I found the Barbados flying fish, I also found kangaroo burgers. For my Australian meal I cooked beer battered fish and chips but when I saw the kangaroo meat I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try this unusual meat.

Kangaroo is produced in Australia and is exported to more than 55 countries worldwide. It was an important part of the traditional Aboriginal diet as a bush food. It wasn’t until 1993 that the consumption of kangaroo meat was legalized for all Australian states. Only about 14% of Australians say they eat kangaroo more than four times a year. But apparently the consumption of this meat is becoming more widespread. Many Australian supermarkets provide various cuts of kangaroo, including “kanga bangas” or other wise known as kangaroo sausages.

Kangaroo is free range. They are not produced on organized farms and are hunted by commercial farmers. The practice is supported by some Australian ecologists who argue that kangaroo farming is more environmentally friendly than farming sheep and cattle because Kangaroos require less food, are well-adapted to draught, and do not destroy the root systems of native grasses. However, the Australian Wildlife Protection Council claims that kangaroo hunters shoot female kangaroos, many who have young. The young are either brutally killed or will escape only to die of starvation, or by some other means, later. They also claim that the commercial hunters fail to meet any of the meat hygiene requirements when hunting this animal.

I’ve read that there is an increasing popularity in this game because of its health benefits. Kangaroo meat is high in protein and low in fat, and has a very high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may also reduce body fat and high blood pressure. Plus, it is known to have anti-diabetes and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Kangaroo meat is surprisingly tender and has a strong flavor. It’s been compared to venison and tastes gamy. When frying up the burgers the meat was crumbly because it has very little fat. I was glad I cooked it on the stove and had not attempted to grill them outside. I think most of the meat would have fallen in the cracks of the grill, and I’m not very good at flipping. I personally did not care for the meat but Kevin and the kids seemed to like it.

Kangaroo meat was fun to try, but I will investigate the way the kangaroos are killed before I will consume them again. I do like the idea that they are free range - I buy free range chicken eggs and I also try to buy free range beef - but I wonder how the killing of kangaroos compare to some of the devastating farming practices of cattle in the U.S.? Then again, I know that if I investigate too far into this topic I will become a sworn vegetarian. That would make it difficult for me to continue this project.

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