I know that roadkill has been widely documented in recent times both sides of the fence have been more than vocal about the moral , ethical and unhygienic ramifications of the subject , I’ve read several great opinions on the subject none more respected or voiced than celebrity forager,chef, self sufficiency expert Fergus Drennan who is someone I personally am in admiration of and probably for different reasons than most , yes I applaud his way of living and enjoy his teachings but he is only one of many , the reason I admire him and even look up to him is he has the strength of character to step into the firing range and take on the massive onslaught of other opinions and stand fast and believe in his goal , it is easy for people like me to be a faceless member but to have the personality to be the face of a cause I find magical and applaud him .
Now idolisation over back to the point ‘roadkill’ do I eat it ‘yes ‘ and I even actively look for it and embrace it as part of my diet , I’m not a vegan or even a animal rights activist I have my own personal set of life rules when it comes to other living beings , I believe we all have a place and a reason from the ground we walk on to the air we breath , if we treat another being with respect and it serves a purpose then that is the circle of life, have I taken life ? The answer is simply yes and I openly admit that I have but within my rules and that is that I can say I have never taken any life without both thanks and I have never needlessly killed , my rule is if I kill something I eat it and if I can utilise any other part of the animal then I will , and I will not kill without need and that’s without exception and also I refuse to teach others who I feel will not use the same respect ,
So no I have no problem with eating meat ( I have a huge problem with sport hunting a argument for another day ) and I have eaten things that would turn people’s stomach but it’s a learning curve and I’m not about to tell you not to eat something as my tastes defiantly are different than most , give me the choice of some random roadkill and a high street take away and I’m all for the roadkill.
So the things I want to share about roadkill are to me the basics but I am also quite aware that for many this is far from normal and if you have never butchered an animal it’s probably going to be very difficult so my first recommendation is if you want to give it a go ask your local butcher for a pheasant and rabbit that is not prepared and get stuck in with the body intact as it should be and this will help you enormously knowing what is right is half the battle .
When do I harvest a roadkill ?
It depends on the time of the year but in the summer I tend to take more consideration about time of day than the winter , I try to be sensible about what I pick up and that falls into two categories the condition ands it’s age so both visual and smell is used to make a division and this is only step one of the process , so if it’s squat past picking up don’t and if it has any foul smells don’t and by foul smells I mean rotten we all know the smell , as regards to visual check the eyes , as the first thing birds and bugs alike eat are the eyes so if it still has them it’s likely to be under twenty four hours old . Also checking for natural foragers feasting this takes time and if maggot riddled you know it’s not fresh , not always un useable just older than a day also Don’t think that if a body is soft it’s new as a decaying body swaps between stiff and soft during decomposition .
The next step is the real examination when you are home and you are in a position to prepare the find and this is when the real investigation starts as There are two main things to be aware of the first is internal damage this can be splintered bones or burst organs certain animals are prone to different problems which with experience will give you a stronger understanding of the use ,
Rabbits bones splinter from the rib cage and get into the meat and that makes eating it quite unpleasant , where as badgers bladders tend to burst and it taints the taste , and birds hold most usable meat in there breasts which explode upon impact , these are all things you will pick up as you utilise roadkill more .
Never be afraid to throw away a find at any point you feel it’s not right often our intuition will prove correct .
The other thing to take close attention of is the organs any discolouration or patches or funny lacerations and this can point to disease .
There sometimes is a reason other than accidental death and there are some obvious diseases that affect our wildlife such as myxomatosis in rabbits which is relatively easy to identify from external signs , from red swollen eyes to fur loss around genital areas the picture below shows the effects upon the eyes of a infected rabbit ,
The one thing I will say about roadkill is it usually with smaller species of animal is that the meat content is normally slightly lower than a shop bought animal and the pieces you get are not suitable as centre pieces on a plate and in order to make the most of your find you may have to be creative with your recipes ,stews ands pies are always a good call .
Badger meat is a fatty meat and if roasted no oil is needed and cooking it like goose yields good results it also retains the badger smell and needs a high smelling complimentary ingredient if you are planning on roasting as the smell ruins the meal , I have read somewhere that some of our taste comes from smell which makes sense as without the smell it’s not bad a bit like pork liver my tip is slow cooked in port with garlic and rosemary ,
Fox is not a nice flavour strait from the animal and needs to be removed from any bones as they just make it worse I find leaving it to soak in milk overnight helps,
I have read a article in a very old book which title alludes me that fox and any meat eating animal (carnivore ) should be left in running water for 48hrs before eating , I’ve not tried this so can’t comment one thing I will as is that I can see fox standing up to the soaking but badger I would think will fall apart ,
I suppose I should comment on the one question I know will be asked as it always is
“What about TB ” well the danger of TB is removed upon cooking so unless you want to eat your badger raw your quite safe as long as you are strict with your clean up during and after preparation of the find ,
Also a question that was asked to me once was about the fact it’s against the law to have any part of a badger ? So I’ve added a part of the legislation ,
“(3) A person is guilty of an offence if, except as permitted by or under this Act, he has in his possession or under his control any dead badger or any part of, or anything derived from, a dead badger.
(4) A person is not guilty of an offence under subsection (3) above if he shows that—
(a) the badger had not been killed, or had been killed otherwise than in contravention of the provisions of this Act or of the [1973 c. 57.] Badgers Act 1973″
So I’m not saying everyone should eat roadkill no more than vegetarians should eat meat it’s a personal choice my argument is next time you eat a chicken from a supermarket just google how the animal lived and how many antibiotics and growth hormones it was given to get it on your plate . ” And that’s all I have to say about that !