If you’ve resolved to eat better in the New Year, you may be considering reducing your meat consumption–or at least opting to eat animals that have been sustainably and humanely raised. Might you consider turning to your own back yard, like one woman in Seattle? The forager and ultra-locavore has recently received quite a bit of media attention for an unusual protein source that she’s been serving to her family and friends: squirrel meat. Yup. Squirrels. From her yard. Which are, apparently, a pretty nutritious protein source.
According to the Seattle Times, Melany Vorass says she enjoys eating an omnivorous diet, but feels guilty about commercially-raised animals. She also says that she found a recipe for squirrel meat in The Joy of Cooking, which first alerted her to the fact that the pests weren’t just abundant–they were edible. And not only are they safe to eat (when prepared correctly and inspected for parasites and signs of disease), they actually have very little cholesterol, and contain quite a bit of protein. Calorie Count gives them a B+, which is the same grade they give rabbit.
If eating squirrels sounds very strange, consider this: it took me all of four seconds to Google “squirrel meat” and find recipes, nutritional information, tips on hunting squirrels, and blogs about other local eaters and foragers who rave about the high-protein, low-fat meat source. And while plenty of people are aghast that Vorass, who lives in a house in a fairly urban part of Seattle, is eating an animal widely seen as potential roadkill, they seem to be shocked on theory–not practice or principle.
It’s hard not to see the similarities between squirrels, which are small and furry and live in the neighborhood, and rabbits, which are similarly small and furry, but are considered food. The same is true for ducks (which swim en masse in the lake near the Vorass residence), and even chickens, which many Seattleites raise to eat in their own yards. Additionally, squirrels are considered acceptable food sources in other countries and are, in fact, still considered “wild game.”
It seems that the main objection to eating squirrels is that most Americans haven’t been conditioned to think of them as food, but rather, creatures that live out in the wild. But if you’re really looking to reduce your carbon footprint, the solution, strange as it may seem, might be as close as your own back yard.
What do you think? Would you try squirrel meat? What if you didn’t have to catch and kill it yourself? Let us know in the comments!