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Road Kill: Is it Fair Game?

In a piece for Slate, I wrote about the time when my husband and I ate a rabbit we found in the middle of the road. I was not anticipating that they would illustrate it.

It really was a good-looking rabbit. Shiny coat, sleek body, glassy eyes—only its mangled back leg hinted at its violent cause of death. My husband Peter and I had come across this rabbit on a trip to a bird sanctuary in Gridley, Calif. It was lying in the middle of a narrow country road, stretched stiffly across the pavement; Peter swerved slightly to avoid its body.

“That was a pretty rabbit,” he said, guiding the car back into the correct lane.

I agreed. We continued down the road in silence. Then, several hundred meters later, Peter spoke again.

“Should we go back and pick it up?”

He was suggesting that we take the rabbit home and eat it. Yes, I’m aware that this sounds crazy. And no, I’m not a back-to-the-land hippie: I grew up in Manhattan, where eating something off the street will likely result in an untimely death. But we were living in Oakland, Calif., dangerously close to Berkeley—the epicenter of the organic food movement, where the words local andsustainable are prized more than Michelin stars. This rabbit was wild, grass-fed, and presumably antibiotic- and artificial hormone-free. Except for the car that had hit it, no food miles had been accrued delivering it to us. So why not bring it home for dinner?

This is the best headline ever.

4 Comments

  1. michael Says:

    We’ve survived almost exclusively on road kill for the last two years. Deer are struck and killed regularly along our stretch of road, they wander onto our property to die. It seems a shame to waste their meat, esp since several neighbors hunt deer on our land and used to give us some of their venison. So as long as we can put the wounded deer out of their misery or get to the roadkill immediately, we just haul it home and butcher it. Made me slightly queasy the first time, but I knew it was saving other animals’ lives in the long run so it was the right thing to do. And you quickly get used to doing it. But then, we used to live in Berkeley as well.

  2. Eve Says:

    Nice! Great article (and illustration). One of my earliest memories is of my dad driving me and my brother to school in upstate NY and passing a deer that had recently been killed by a car. He pulled the truck over, tossed the freshly killed (still warm) deer in the back and turned right around and drove back home.

    We got a totally different set of lessons that day. I still remember seeing the inside of that deer!

  3. Linda Rink Says:

    Fascinating article–you definitely have a knack with words and a very strong stomach! I don’t think I could have ever eaten that little rabbit no matter what!

  4. Mike Hoskins Says:

    Now, that’s truly an AWESOME headline!!! Great article, Catherine!

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