Americans, like other cultures, have food preferences and taboos. While it is acceptable to eat dogs in some parts of the world, the U.S. ain’t that place. Some folks go hunting for birds and animals as others lobby for animal rights and ethical vegetarianism.
But, people, can we agree that roadkill is fair game? After all, the wildlife lying lifeless in front of your approaching car wasn’t born and bred for slaughter like a beef cow or a little lamb. It was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Car-ma happened.
Historians tell us roadkill has undoubtedly been around since the first oxcarts rolled around ancient Mesopotamia thousands of years past. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of a free “meals under wheels” program?
One good answer is that it might be illegal where you live. Check local laws before loading up on free meat you find en route.
Let’s hope you live in an enlightened state. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) says that “Millions of animals – birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians – are killed every year by vehicles traveling on America’s roads.” That’s a lot of good food if handled properly.
Many American restaurants serve deer and elk as specialty meats – usually at a very high price. Why not dine “à la car,” a case by this eco-foodie advocate:
“Over a million deer are hit by cars in the U.S. annually, meaning tens of millions of pounds of free-range venison could be salvaged by eating roadkill every year.”
Now, I know some of you are thinking, “EWWW! Totally gross, I would never eat meat from an animal killed in an unfortunate encounter with a moving vehicle.”
All I can say in response is that you haven’t lived life to its fullest until you’ve been invited to a hillbilly barbecue where groundhog was on the menu. It’s greasy but not bad roasted on a spit, I’ll tell you what.
Then there was the time I was sitting in the back seat of a Citroën 2CV (the infamous poor man’s car, the Deux Chevaux – two horses – meaning its wimpy horsepower) as my boyfriend’s best friend tooled along a country road in southern France. The two were talking animatedly (and fast) in the front seat, making it hard for me to follow along.
I relaxed and gazed out the windows at the fabulous countryside. All of a sudden, my boyfriend’s tone changed, getting even more excited, and he pointed forward and to the right. His pal swerved the car onto the shoulder and I heard a loud THUMPA-THUMP. The car screeched to a halt and the pair piled out.
Curious, I exited the rear door and sidled over to the now-open trunk. “What have you got there?” I inquired, peering over their hunched shoulders as they packed their cargo.
“It’s a rabbit!” replied my boyfriend, full of glee.
I had heard that rabbit was gourmet cuisine. In fact, I had even tasted it one time when my mother (inspired by TV chef Julia Child, of course) procured one from a neighbor’s trap and cooked it up in a mustardy cream sauce.
“What are you going to do with it?” I asked because neither one had access to a kitchen, as far as I knew. The friend said he was going to take Long Ears to his mother who would know just what to do.
Ah bon. Oh good.
Stands to reason that roadkill is good for you. Unlike factory-farmed meat, it isn’t tainted with chemical additives. Heck, even PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) calls roadkill “a superior option to the neatly shrink-wrapped plastic packages of meat in the supermarket…laden with antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulants.”
Furthermore, in PETA’s opinion, eating animals killed on the road that weren’t “castrated, dehorned or debeaked without anesthesia” is more humane. And, you know, added the animal rights group:
“Perhaps the animals never knew what hit them.”
For safety’s sake, make sure the roadkill is fresh. Finding meat on a cold day is good because of the natural refrigeration. WikiHow offers a comprehensive guide on eating roadkill and covers all the bases – including a compassionate blessing.
There are a surprising number of roadkill recipes available online, including Deadfood.com where you can learn how to prepare not only squirrels, skunks, and deer but exotics like camel, elephant, and alligator. You know, just in case.