[permaculture] Road Kill: It's Fresh, It's Organic, It's Free

mIEKAL aND qazingulaza at gmail.com
Tue Jul 28 09:27:10 EDT 2009

Road Kill: It's Fresh, It's Organic, It's Free

By Sandor Ellix Katz, Chelsea Green Publishing. Posted July 28, 2009.


How broke would you have to get to eat roadkill?

Don't freak out. This isn't a sensationalist necrophilic bizarre
fetishized kind of thing. It's legit. Actually, depending on several
factors, it can be perfectly safe (and entirely affordable) to eat
meat that has been left by the side of a highway or county road.

In fact, there may be not much of a difference from a deer you hunt,
and a deer you kill accidentally. Now, this may sound a bit extreme to
you. But according to Sandor Katz, lifelong activist and food lover,
roadkill has been a source of food for poor people since cars were
invented. So, don't be classist. At least read more about it!

The following is an excerpt from The Revolution Will Not Be
Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements by Sandor
Ellix Katz. It has been adapted for the Web.

If you pay attention and look at the road while driving (or, even more
so, while walking or biking), you will inevitably encounter roadkill.
Animals moving across the landscape are often unavoidable prey at
fifty-five miles per hour. Little systematic counting has been done,
but extrapolating from data collected by road crews in Ohio, one
analysis estimates there are an average of more than one hundred
million roadkill victims in the United States each year. Dr. Splatt,
the pseudonym of a high-school science teacher who for thirteen years
has organized students around New England to participate in a roadkill
census, comes up with a very similar estimate of 250,000 animals
killed by cars in the United States on an average day. Some people see
food in these unfortunate victims of our car culture and regularly
pick roadkill up off the road to take home and eat.

A few passionate souls I have encountered eat roadkill almost every
day. My neighbors Casper and Pixey bring roadkill stews to our
potlucks. For a while they did their frying in grease rendered from a
roadkill bear they came across in the mountains. On one of my friends
Terra and Natalie's visits, they had strips of roadkill venisons
splayed across their dashboard drying into jerky.

When I first met Terra, she was vegan. Then she and her boyfriend
Ursus -- who has the word vegan tattooed onto his shin -- discovered
roadkill and quickly became roadkill carnivores. In her zine, The
Feral Forager, Terra explains how they came to start eating roadkill:

Our first feral feast of roadkill was on spring equinox of 2002. That
past winter we had experimented with skinning and tanning, using a
possum and a raccoon we had found on the roadside. . . . On spring
equinox we were driving in the suburbs of a large southeastern city
and spotted a fox dead on the roadside. Our first thought was what a
great fur it would make. We scraped it up (it wasn't very mangled at
all) and took it to our friends' house downtown, and Ursus skinned it
in the backyard while our friends assisted. When it was all done and
hanging gutless and skinless from a tree, it was like some collective
epiphany: why not eat it? There was a great firepit there and several
willing "freegans," along with a few pretty hardcore vegans (including
Ursus) who raised no protest. After a couple hours on a spit, the grey
fox was edible. I guess it was something about the start of a new
season -- it was almost ritualistic, without trying to make it so.
Some stood by and watched while four or five of us feasted on the fox.
Ursus, a hardcore vegan, was perhaps the most voracious. There was
something primal about his eating -- like a wild man caged for years
eating only bagels and bananas. Ursus tanned the skin and later wore
it around his neck like a scarf.

Terra, Ursus, Natalie, and other members of the Wildroots Collective
in western North Carolina now eat roadkill nearly every day, have a
good supply put away in a freezer, and have tried dozens of different
species of animals found dead on roadsides.

The Wildroots folks have become enthusiastic promoters of roadkill and
work hard to spread information and skills to empower other people to
tap into this huge available food supply. Members of the collective do
a good bit of traveling on the do-it-yourself skillsharing circuit,
teaching people how to judge the edibility of a dead animal on the
road and guiding them through the experience of skinning and cleaning
a small animal. At the 2005 Food For Life gathering at the Sequatchie
Valley Institute/Moonshadow, one of the most memorable events was the
hands-on roadkill workshop, in which we learned about the cleaning,
skinning, and butchering of roadkill animals. The Wildroots folks
brought a roadkill groundhog with them, and our friend Justin, another
roadkill enthusiast, brought a squirrel he had found on his bike ride
to the gathering. (The more slowly you travel, the more you notice not
only roadkill but all sorts of roadside harvesting possibilities.)

(more online)

More information about the permaculture mailing list