Where does your food come from? Who grows your food? Who IS your food? What does your food eat? What kind of life did it have? What kind of death did it have? How far did it travel to get to your plate?

These are questions I consider more and more, the closer I get to the source of my food. Pictured above is a beautiful wild trout gifted to us a while ago, from Jeff.

This past weekend Phil and I helped process 3 fresh roadkill does that Phil had found with our friend, A. We skinned and gutted them Thursday night, cleaned, quartered, divided and packaged their 12 legs on Friday (with the help of several friends), then finished cleaning, de-boning, grinding, and rendering fat on Saturday (with help from others still). It was such a huge task, and we still have so much to learn. At moments we felt drunk and giddy with excitement, and at other times we were angry and depressed with frustration.

The physical process helped begin all the mental and emotional processing necessary. So many questions. How I feel about an animal that I eat changes after I go through the steps of touching its warm blood and thick fur, all the way to seeing the flesh simmering in my cast-iron skillet. It was such a long journey, but it leaves me wondering about the deer's life journey before I met it as a glassy-eyed body.

Yesterday I helped out with the urban program with Primitive Pursuits. It was a great afternoon, and I'm learning to love the kids there. Afterward, A. and I stopped at the Aldi dumpster. We found 2 pineapples, 2 bags of oranges, tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, a bouquet of roses, and more. In the trash.

Again, I cook my meal, feeling joy at my discovery and proud of what I'm learning. But then there's also that bitterness at what we're all losing. We're throwing food away. We're throwing lives away.

How do I process this?


Liana said...

nice post, heidi.

it makes me think back to my times in haiti & honduras & how i was always "shocked" at things they ate - in the manner that we "Americans" would throw stuff out.
really makes one think...

mennogourmet said...

We have a chunk of moose meat in the freezer given to us by some friends. The moose was hit by a car on a highway close to Anchorage. I haven't decided quite yet what to make with it, but I'm glad to have it and glad to be eating something that came from the land around me instead of from the grocery store, shipped up from the lower 48...

abigail said...

I don't know if it can be properly processed. So much waste is unthinkable, and, when looking back at history, the link we've utterly lost with what we consume is unnatural. Even when people purchased what they did not grow themselves, they still had a closer tie with its source than we do today.

I've never had fresh trout, and even as I buy frozen fish from China and beyond, caught and packaged and delivered to the store by some mysterious unknown, I think about this. One does what one can, and even if they're seemingly small actions, they're worthwhile. Grow a garden, bake some bread, become an urban forager and rescue perfectly good food from an Aldi dumpster.

Your Aldi dumpster story made me laugh because it reminded me of the time my dad brought home several dozen boxes of Russell Stover chocolates from the dumpster outside of CVS. He'd asked them if they had any reduced after the holidays, and, though the chocolates were still perfectly good, they told them they'd just thrown them out. We, and all our relatives, ate enough chocolates for bellyaches fourfold.

Lastly, my mom goes once a month to a local distribution of food that has nearly reached its expiration date. There's probably something similar near Ithaca, and anyone can go and take home food that will otherwise be tossed. She's often loaded down with enough commercial-sized amounts of food from restaurants to dump off pounds at Becky's house and at my place before she takes her own portion home.

Sandy said...

It's even more acute when you're surrounded by friends who have FAR less than you. We live in a place where you cannot grow your own food, even as you might try and try. The Gabra raise camels and goats, but any non-meat non-milk comes from government feeding programs or traders bringing from lands lusher than these, at a cost too great for most.

We also bring our food from greener places, but ours is almost a car-full, rather than almost a bag-full... and when I scrape our plates clean I'm aware of what will show on the compost heap for anyone to see. The waste. So, we give away. My favorite day is at the end of a two month stint, when I make small heaps of flour and beans, potatoes and onions, and anything that might go to waste during our travels and think of those who might need it most. It's fun to buy eggs from the old man at the door, and after handing over the few shillings cost, to also give him 2 or 3 pounds of tomatoes... a fruit the man may not have eaten in years, is a true privelege and a pleasure.

From where my food has come and what sort of life it lived is on another plane altogether. I look forward to mulling that over for the sheep that is now turning to jerky in the solar oven...

I love you!