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

Even some hardcore vegans have found solace in scavenging. Here's why.
 
 
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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.

 
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