Kill: It's Fresh, It's Organic, It's Free (and now, it's DELICIOUS!)
How broke would you have to get to eat roadkill? You know, 'street pizza'.
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:
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.
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
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
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.)
People enthusiastically took front-row seats to see these animals get skinned.
people shuddered in horror, had to look away, or otherwise expressed their
squeamishness. But most people watched quietly, fascinated, as Natalie coached Dylan, a
previously uninitiated thirteen-year- old (there with his family) through the skinning of the
squirrel, and Jenny and Justin skinned the groundhog. Direct experiential education like this
can be transformative. Laurel Luddite wrote about her first roadkill butchering experience,
"The responsibility made me nervous at first. As I cut I began to feel confident that not only
could I butcher this deer, but I could also fulfill my need for food whenever I saw some
lying by the side of the road."
Roadkill has been a source of food for poor people since there have been
American culture eating roadkill generally has a pejorative classist connotation, epitomizing
ignorant hillbilly behavior. Now Wildroots and other enthusiasts are embracing roadkill
with a political ideology, rejecting the values of consumer culture by "transforming
dishonored victims of the petroleum age into food which nourishes, and clothing which
warms." Beyond ideology, they are spreading practical information and skills to empower
Terra's zine, The Feral Forager, offers a basic primer for safely eating roadkill:
Picking up roadkill is a good way to get fresh, wild, totally free-range
organic meat for absolutely free. When you find the roadkill you should try to
determine if it is edible or not. If you saw the animal get hit then it's obviously
fit to eat (although you may have to put it out of its misery). If the critter is
flattened into a pancake in the middle of the highway then it's probably best
to leave it. Most of the time (not always), good ones will be sitting off the
road or in a median where [they aren't] constantly being pulverized.
Sometimes it can be hard to determine how fresh a carcass is. A lot of
factors can contribute to how fast the meat spoils, especially temperature.
Obviously, roadkill will stay fresher longer in colder weather and spoil faster
in warmer weather. It's best to go case by case and follow your instincts.
Here are some considerations to help you decide:
If it is covered in flies or maggots or other insects it's probably no
If it smells like rotting flesh it's probably spoiled, although it is common
for dead animals' bowels to release excrement or gas upon impact or
when you move the carcass.
If its eyes are clouded over white it's probably not too fresh (though
likely still edible).
If there are fleas on the animal there's a good chance it's still edible.
If it's completely mangled, it's probably not worth the effort.
Rigor mortis (when the animal stiffens) sets in pretty quickly. Most of
animals we've eaten have been stiff. There's no reason to assume the animal
is spoiled just because it's stiff. . . .
Potential Risks of Eating Roadkill: One of the most severe risks of
roadkill is rabies. In order to assure your safety from this deadly serious
brain inflammation, you may want to use rubber gloves when gutting and
skinning any warm-blooded animal (warm blooded as in mammals and birds,
not in regard to blood temperature). If you don't feel the need to exercise this
absolute caution, at least make sure you don't have any open wounds on
your hands or skin that touches the animal. Roadkill is usually safe from
rabies because it dies quickly when the animal dies. Also, rabies will cook
out of the carcass. Generally speaking, boiling the animal first (rather than just
grilling it) is a good idea, especially if it's a notorious rabies carrier (like
raccoons, skunks, and foxes).
Sandor Ellix Katz is the author of the newly published The Revolution Will
Microwaved and Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of
Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003). He travels widely teaching people about
food preservation and alternatives ways to get nourishing food. A native of New
York City, he lives in Tennessee.
© 2009 Chelsea Green Publishing All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/141595/
ROAD KILL COOKING TIPS.
#1.) To feast on free meat, YOU NEED THE NERVE to park at curb, wait til
no one's looking, then safely pull the corpse into the car. If they see you, just
start weeping, "OH DEAR! MY DARLING FLUFFY!!" USE a paper
or plastic bag over your hand. Set on newspapers. If the corpse was a
meat eater, don't pick it up. Cats, dogs. Only eat birds and animals with
hooves. Recently I picked up a wounded Possum, gave it water, fruit
but it died. I was too cowardly to peel it, gave it a Christian burial in my
frying pan, for the cats to eat.. Well, we're only a few months into
the GREAT DEPRESSION, not hungry enuf.
2.) RITUAL CLEANSING. Drop corpse into sink of water. SEE WHAT CRAWLS
OFF. A lotta stuff WILL but don't let that get you. It's wild life.
Nothing more or less. Humans have eaten wild life for millenia. Use strainer,
pick the moving bugs off, dump in yard. I do not knowingly kill any wild life.
Then brine the meat for a few hours.
3.) HOW TO PEEL. We who do not regularly slaughter animals call removing
the skin 'peeling' as the only thing we've ever peeled is a carrot.. SHARP
SHORT PARING KNIFE. INSERT A new kind of "ZIPPER" down its front --from
google to zatch. Remove meat from peel. Whether it's a pidgeon or a
deer, peel it. Skin it. Whatever. Hey, my cat can do it. I found a squirrel rug
under my dining table last Friday.
4.) BURY the "peels" deep in COMPOST PILE as your family would look very
unkindly at animal corpses especially with faces...being brought home
and cooked in pots they use for oats in the morning and 'remains' lying around the yard
or looking up at them from the bottom of trash cans. This I know. I learned to
adore 'berdolagas' in Mexico where maids cooked it saying that it was a great Spring
delicacy, and instantly recognized purslane when I came back to USA with 4 babes and saw it growing
on the curb outside our rented shack. My kids would say 'mom, dogs pee there.'
They'd then ask, "are we that poor?' their bewildered faces turned up to me in horror.
I tried to be a good mommie and not give them complexes. Instead, I took purslane seed
at summer's end and planted it in our back yard garden. But the confounded stuff
would only grow on sidewalk cracks and curbs. I learned to pick purslane
by flashlight while kids were watching TV.
5.) 99% of road kill is only useful for pets. You should get so lucky
you'd find a deer before the blood clotted. If blood is clotted, next
stage is larvae. FLY LARVAE means two days old, don't eat it.
HANGING meat in a cold room for 2 weeks is fine tho. Suggested
method for cooking meats for pets is adding carrots or greens to the
soup. Carrots require 10 minutes, tough game meat ...one hour at a slow simmer.
A fast boil toughtens meat. Lower the better. Greens go in last 5 minutes.
6.) Slow cooked meat is pulled off the bone when cool, carrots smashed
or grated into it. Pets will eat vegetables with their meat. Unlike kids.
7.) There's a pound of snails a night in the average garden. Flashlight,
bag. Simmer in salted water, 4 min. Turn off, cool. Pull out of shells.
Manicure instrument helps. Saute in chicken fat l0 seconds, garlic
powder. Your friends will let you in their yard when you're out.
If we go into utter economic arrest, June Bug larvae abound in rich
soil beds, and fried 30 seconds in oil or butter, cats will eat them.
So will Amazonian Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese and
certain New Guinea tribes.
Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! & HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also HOW TO LIVE on A NICKLE, The FRUGAL PAGE.* Anita is at firstname.lastname@example.org ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic!
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