Sunday, 29 November 2015

Ethics of food.

There is a bit of a movement here in the UK which suggests that it is 'ethical' to eat road kill.   Now I can see that in The States and Canada, where road kill might be something like an elk then maybe this is possible (does anyone eat elk?) and it would be with a deer here in the UK.   But on our lane roadkill means hedgehogs (sadly), rabbits and pheasants and all three are usually flattened, not just killed.  

This week there was even a grey squirrel - which most people here look upon as vermin.   But on Friday our local weekly paper published a recipe for squirrel.   Apparently good butchers are now able to get them quite easily and the recipe called for a whole, skinned one.   I really do draw the line at eating squirrel (has anyone out there eaten it?) but the recipe suggested that rabbit (or bunny as the recipe said - and that is going too near the sentimental for me ever to eat it)  would make a suitable alternative.

 This brings me fairly neatly to the subject of my blog today - rabbits.   Yes, they are pretty - and seemingly harmless - creatures, but frankly they breed like - well - rabbits.   And at present our fields are full of rabbits, which keep breeding throughout the winter in all but totally icy conditions, so no let up there then.   And so far there is absolutely no sign of the cruel disease myxymatosis, which does wipe out some colonies when it strikes but to which many rabbits are now immune.

The plain fact is that ten rabbits are said to eat as much grass as one cow.   In addition to this they also dig their burrows out into the field, leaving huge piles of earth which smothers the grass.   So every now and again the farmer has to take steps to eradicate some of them.   I don't think he likes it any more than I do, but it is necessary.

So to this end a couple of young men came 'lamping' on Friday evening.   This means they come after dark with strong lamps to dazzle and mesmerise the rabbits and then they shoot them - cleanly and quickly.   I have to report that in an hour they shot forty
and since then there has been no sign of a dead or injured one in the fields so we can assume that all died quickly and humanely.  Interestingly a local butcher takes them and they sell well.

We ate rabbit - stew, pie, when I was a child and we loved it.   Sadly, I just couldn't eat it now.   They intend to come back in about a week, when the weather has settled down after the storm we are getting at the moment, and try to shoot another forty.

I'm sorry if you find this distasteful - but it is a necessary evil.

27 comments:

Heather said...

When I was a child during World War 2 my family were glad to supplement our rations with rabbit. I probably didn't ask what meat it was. My mother and grandmother were both good cooks and home food was delicious. I think I may also have eaten goat on occasions. Granny kept goats and sometimes there were kids. The billies didn't give milk of course so were surplus to requirements. I think a friendly butcher did the dirty deed and we had 'lamb' for Sunday lunch. I suppose we would be pleased to eat anything if food was in short supply.

Wilma said...

Better to kill them quickly and use them for food than to trap and have them suffer before they die. And if you can keep the population down, then so much the better. Decades ago I cooked and ate rabbit. It was OK if a little greasy and gamey for my taste. I wouldn't hesitate to eat it now if it were my only source of protein. I much prefer goat to rabbit, though!

Irene Holland said...

Yes we eat roadkill. Yes we eat squirrel. Yes we eat rabbit, deer and pheasant, and hedgehog that is often not flattened.
As animal lovers and meat eaters, we eat and use the skin of culled and roadkill animals. If you are going to cull animals use them! Sentiment often results in animals lives being short lived in vain.
The law in this country states: You cannot take any roadkill that you have killed yourself. However if you see a car kill an animal or you see a kill that was not there a few hours ago, you are entitled to take it.
We have a lot or deer and pheasants here, animals are often killed near our home. The drivers are only concerned about any damage to their cars.
"Ooh, I couldn't eat it"! Total lack of respect for the animal.
If one is going to eat meat. Take responsibility for it! Also make sure that any meat that you buy has had a good life. Sentiment does not equate to responsibility.

Mac n' Janet said...

I love rabbit to eat, but it is virtually impossible to find it for sale here in the States and very expensive if you do find it. My Mother ate squirrel when she was young, they were horribly poor and hate whatever they could kill or grow.
I can't imagine eating road kill. We see deer frequently here that have been hit by cars as well as armadillos and raccoons.

Sue in Suffolk said...

I would like the chance to try squirrel as they would have the flavour of all OUR walnuts that they pinch before they are anywhere ready. Squirrels here are so clever they are never seen as road kill! Hedgehogs are never seen fullstop.

Derek Faulkner said...

As someone who spent many years catching and killing rabbits on the marshes here I find what you describe as a normal and necessary practise on farmland. My two terriers still do catch rabbits and kill them while I'm out and about each day but there numbers are very much depleted from what they used to be.
I used to enjoy making and rabbit and vegetable pie but eventually, after gutting and skinning so many rabbits over the years, the smell put me off eating them.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

We had a huge population of rabbits here this past year but I haven't seen one in quite a while now. A few people do eat roadkill here, in that if a deer is hit by a car (a fairly common occurance at different times of the year), someone can use that deer. These people tend to be hunters, of which there are many, at least where I live.
I have actually eaten elk, but it was at a restaurant which specializes in unique food. Ted's Range Road Diner offers a variety of animals on which to dine, kangaroo being one of them. (Where they get the kangaroo I have no idea!!) Elk tastes like mild beef and really wasn't worth the cost. On our roads we mostly see raccoons, skunks, and the odd porcupine, deer, or fox. -Jenn

donna baker said...

Ick. No wild animals for me. Just couldn't. Roadkill deer here are picked up by the Sheriff's office and fed to the prisoners. I myself, missed hitting a large buck by about 10 feet in my truck recently. So much roadkill in the US. I try and avert my eyes to avoid seeing it. If the apocalypse arrives, supposedly, if the hair on the roadkilled animal is pulled on and it comes out easily it is too far gone to eat. Again, ick. Hope I'm never that hungry. I've heard of people eating rabbit and squirrel and they say it tastes like chicken. Whatever.

Dawn McHugh said...

We have had squirrel on several occasions it is a lovely meat, we have no issue with eating road kill at all, free meat healthy and very tasty :-)

Joanne Noragon said...

In many jurisdictions here, suitable road kill is dressed and delivered to food banks. A good end for the poor animal.

Rachel said...

We regard roadkill as natural wastage.

jinxxxygirl said...

I'am very glad to hear that the rabbits went to a butcher. Although i realize this is a necessary evil , spotlighting them at night and then shooting them is rather unfair to the rabbit is it not? It is illegal in the US to shoot deer that way. I know that animal populations need to be thinned out for the good of humans and for the animal's own good too for health reasons...but i also believe the animal should have a fighting chance.. Survival of the fittest. But spotlighting them and effectively 'freezing' them in place while you shoot them... that just doesn't sit well with me.

Here , i don't know of any road kill eaters though i imagine there are some. To me roadkill feeds the buzzards... Hugs! deb

Countryside Tales said...

Rabbits on Chalk downland are an interesting thing to ponder. Too many and the chalk plants are decimated (and the invertebrates that rely on them), too few and natural succession means these valuable plants get out-competed by grasses and scrub and the inverts that need them die. It's always a question of balance and if you know your land you'll know the numbers that need removing to keep everything healthy. We eat rabbit here, not had squirrel before and we avoid roadkill because you don't know when it was killed and generally the meat is too bruised to eat.

angryparsnip said...

I live in the foothills. So I see lots of wild animals.
The small animals population is kept in check by the roadrunners, coyotes, fox, bobcats and mountain lions.
But when I lived in Laguna Beach, California all the deer population is being cut off my massive housing developments. Small pockets of wildland with very little ways to get back up to the mountains in Orange County. Where I lived we had some great open spaces but there were deer who would get hit. It was very sad because the government in it money grabbing wisdom trapped them.
I have eaten deer, and even javelins ribs when young. Do not think I could do that now.
But really how do you eat a hedgehog ?

cheers, parsnip

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Lamping ensures a clean kill. It isn't about being sporting. I've seen too many injured rabbits and foxes dying a slow painful dead, who were given a "sporting chance"
I'm told that the way to eat hedgehog is to bake it in clay and then peel the baked clay off!
Re squirrel I'm also told that they taste like Guinea Pig !!
Goat taste exactly like lamb only with a little less fat.

Polly said...

My father was a lorry driver and occasionally pheasants darted into the path of his lorry so he would bring them home. My mother also cooked rabbit which she bought from the butcher. I’ve never cooked rabbit, but I wouldn’t rule out trying it, not sure about squirrel though. Rabbits are cute but I know they are a pest to farmers. I think that’s probably the most humane way to kill them, it’s quick and painless.

The History Anorak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coppa's girl said...

Rabbit is not something I really like eating - a little too gamey for my taste buds, and would not order it in a restaurant or buy in the supermarket. However it's a very popular meat here in Spain, and there are many traditional dishes using it. In the supermarkets they sell them skinned, but whole, with head eyes,tail etc.,and I'm now used to seeing them alongside other meats. I still wouldn't buy one and cook it. When we lived in Sweden many years ago, we were regularly invited out to dinner and Elk was often on the menu. The locals were often allowed one animal a year and I suspect they were often roadkill. We didn't enquire too closely as to the provenance !
I can appreciate the need to cull any animal that breeds to excess and decimates the countryside - not a time for sentiment.

Penny said...

Here in Australia I have never heard of eating road kill but I suppose if you were desperate. We see lots of dead kangaroos and sometimes deer which are getting more numerous. We were married on the money John got from his rabbit trapping, illegal now, both pelts and carcasses but here rabbits can get into plague proportions and are an imported menace.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

There's an awful lot of urban rabbits here. I often wonder about the ethics and humaneliness of using them for food.

Cro Magnon said...

I love Rabbit. My daughter once had a boyfriend who used to go 'long netting' with a Ferret. He would go up onto the South Downs and nab about 100 a day; several of which would come to me. A Rabbit, some white wine and a few prunes (amongst other things) and you have a wonderful healthy meal, delicious.

Derek Faulkner said...

Interesting to see how many people had no problem with eating rabbit, I was expecting a fairly high percentage of people to be sympathetic to their plight.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Your last comment is interesting Derek - that is exactly what I expected.
Irene's comment is also interesting, as is Cro's. I am altogether heartened by all of your comments - and I agree with Frugal that lamping is probably the most humane way as it does ensure an almost certain clean kill rather than prolonged suffering. Thank you so much for taking part.

Becca McCallum said...

I'm Ok with it, as long as they are shot quickly and cleanly, and they are used for food after.

Becca McCallum said...

p.s. I have eaten a pheasant that was hit by a car. My uncle was out cycling and saw it happen - the pheasant was hit by the bumper and landed on the verge. It was delicious with potatoes and a blackeberry sauce!

Midmarsh John said...

There was a time when rabbit was on our weekly family meals along with pigeon. I used to really like the taste of both but more recently I have gone off them completely. When my late father cycled to church to play the organ he fairly often would come back with a road kill rabbit which always ended up as dog food.

dixie heath said...

My dad used to squirrel hunt when I was growing up here in Ohio USA and I couldn't eat it as I had to help clean and skin it but my mother would soak it in salt water and then cut it up and roll it in flour and fry it and then make gravy on it and serve it over biscuits. The same for rabbits..my dad would hunt rabbits on my grandfathers farm and my mom would fix it the same way.