The Scavenger’s Guide to… Scavenging

You know when you go to a restaurant with a group of friends and have food in your hands before you even sit down at the table? During the ensuing mass confusion, judgmental glances, and wide eyes of wonder, there’s always one group member that asks and endless spattering of questions about food waste, lowering one’s food budget, and other random questions regarding my unconventional lifestyle. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to understand other people’s thought processes, perspectives, and potentially provide a positive influence in the way they conduct their lives.

19702198_10156425425250031_3097102583306335860_n

So to make it easier, here are some avenues I’ve been fortunate enough to utilize in my quest to displace food from being wasted:

Community and School Gardens

It only takes a couple peaceful hours volunteering at a community or school garden to be permitted to obtain a portion of the yield when the time comes. I spent a decent amount of time at The Ohio State University Student Farm hoeing, planting, and weeding. There actually wasn’t much student involvement and a heck of a lot of crops planted. At the end of the season I ended up with more tomatoes I could ever eat. Plus, I was fortunate enough to get high off the endorphins catalyzed by my little friends. Thanks to the current movement connecting people to their food, community gardens are gaining in popularity and you probably have one in your area. Plenty of resources are available to guide you to the nearest feast.

Landscape Pest Control

Bugs. Eat them. If you like shrimp, if you like reducing pesticide use, if you like protein, you might want to throw back a couple tomato horn worms or Japanese beetles. Whenever I go to my mom’s in MD, I make sure I check the rose bushes and tomato plants for those little critters that thought it was a good idea to defoliate my family’s ornamentals and food plots. They’re pretty much all edible and delicious saut√©ed in some coconut oil with sea salt and curry.

Home Gardens

If you have a few minutes each day to throw some water at your little green pets, home gardens are a great way to grab your own food with very little economic investment.

Roadkill

Everyone’s most appetizing option. There’s a right way to do it. There’s a very wrong way to do it. Make sure you aren’t going for that odiferous bludgeoned carcass writhing with maggots that’s missing most of its hair. This guy knows what’s up with road-side harvesting. Make sure the hair doesn’t fall out when tugged. You shouldn’t smell anything that makes you want to puke. Some lice and ticks are ok, but if maggots beat you to the meal, you might want to keep driving. Cold weather can keep the meat good for up to months, depending on the temp. I usually don’t eat the offal from vehicle casualties and stick to the unmolested muscle meat. Good luck with this one ūüôā

Traps

While volunteering at OSU’s Student Farm, I was tasked with the duty of pest control via live traps. The rabbit population is very often an issue with agriculture and I was lucky enough to have delicious furry friends on my plate for about 2 years. Talk to farmers you know to find similar opportunities or look up the regulations for trapping with your state’s wildlife department to set one up in your back yard.

Grocery Store Samples

Not sure about you, but when I go to Whole Foods Market, I know I eat more food in the store than I buy… The plethora of samples throughout the aisles and the “spillage” in the bulk foods section are the real reason I go there. The ridiculous price markup and their insistence on using dangerous industrial oils to cook most of their food doesn’t appropriately motivate me to buy my food from them.

Restaurant Table Leftovers

The best meals out include random peoples’ leftovers. I can barely describe the satisfaction and joy when I am able to snag a half-eaten plate of food from a recently departed neighboring table when I go out to eat. The race to beat the wait staff to clean up a table is exhilarating and the payoff can be immense. Probably best to refrain from the soup…

Bar Drinks

If you start paying attention to it, you’d be amazed at the amount of alcohol left in peoples’ cups when they hop on to another bar. Always scout out the tables when you see a party preparing to depart a bar and check the tables or counters at the door when you enter a club if the city doesn’t permit open-containers.

Hunting

We’re made to track down, kill, and eat the wildlife. The rifle can cost a bit, but if you’re lucky enough to find a gun aficionado to befriend that’ll let you borrow one, the cost to harvest a decent amount of wild game meat is minimal. The license fees are low and go to important causes like habitat conservation. Get that forest bathing in! For added ecological benefits, focus on invasive species and animals that are currently in a high population density status, historically speaking.

Fishing

With an even lower barrier to entry, fishing can supply a massive amount of meat for a minimal cost. You also get the benefits of negative ions.

Urban Foraging

Life is much more fulfilling when you get to know the environment in which you reside. As the majority of people shuttle by in their metal, socially-isolating death traps in a congestion-induced rage, some fortunate individuals can be spotted cycling or meandering about on foot with grins upon their faces. The slow life comes with gifts. Delicious gifts. Next time you have the time, commute by foot or bike and keep an eye peeled for little treats trickled around your feet, in the bushes, and on the trees. There is even an app for that. Most weeds can be eaten.

Help Friends Move Out

Maybe it’s just another aspect of being the luckiest guy ever. Maybe I intentionally make friends with gypsy-type folk… But I’ve been fortunate enough to help multiple friends move from one living space to other. Usually there are heaps of food that they either don’t want to go through the efforts of relocating or decided they don’t enjoy eating. Lend a hand moving furniture and usually you can snatch up a few boxes of edible goods. Just scrape the mold off.

Clean Friends’ Kitchens

An obsessive interest in societal food purchasing habits can lead you to some interesting situations when you get caught snooping in the recesses of strangers’ cabinets and fridges. With a little communicative tact and a receptive kitchen owner, you just may finagle your way into an incredible opportunity to snag some unwanted goods. A lot of foods people considered “expired” are still good to eat.

University Events

I decided long ago that there must be a university in the town in which I reside. Listening to an indecipherable asian lament upon the intricacies of critical nonlinear dispersive equations sounds so much more delicious when I have 47 cheese cubes in front of my face chasing each other down my throat. Check out your local university’s events calendar for public seminars, lectures, and community events. There’s always food. At least free coffee. And you know they throw it out. Some compost, but skipping the energy recycling yields the most sustainable outcome.

Farmers Markets

First, samples for days. Second, if you befriend a local producer, there are many opportunities to help trade some time helping load, unload, or clean the farm stand for some produce to take home.

Food Festivals/ Expos

Food product producers never want to return from an expo with product. The cost to ship it back often exceeds the loss from just giving it away. Next time you hear of an event in your area, bring a duffel bag and ask the producers if they have any opened containers or extra goods they are desperate to rid themselves of.

Hosting Couchsurfers

Couchsurfing is a great way to meet the most interesting people on the planet and have some valuable exploration partners. Not only can you help make the world a better place by providing a welcome environment for fellow global explorers, but most of the guests will insistently pay for your meals out, buy groceries and cook food at your home, or leave edible goods in your fridge when they depart.

I hope these tips are actually useful, the writing style is entertaining, and you have some great material to fuel any judgement regarding my alternative lifestyle!

Keep in mind that it’s about reducing food waste, reducing the money spent on food, and having fun. “Scavenge” isn’t a cool word for “stealing.”

Where do you see food waste that could go to a better cause than the landfill? Who wants to join my food scavenging team? What are some food-rescuing experiences you’ve facilitated?

Advertisements

Earthchurn Ice Cream

Earthchurn1.jpg

I had my first repeat customer tonight. So I’m celebrating with a blog post explaining my motivation behind Earthchurn!

Ultimately, I aim to displace as much sugar consumption as possible. Ice cream is a major contributor to the public’s sugar intake. I know that as a health-conscious consumer, the one thing that I haven’t found a suitable substitute for has been ice cream.

Nutritionally, we know that one thing all experts agree on is that sugar is a massive contributor to all chronic diseases, mental illnesses, and dermatological issues. I know I gave myself GERD through an increased sugar consumption. Natural, zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol have no negative consequences and can even increase health status due to insulin regulation and their phytonutrient content. CLAs and Omega-3 fatty acids in the grass-fed milk and free-range eggs also contribute to a more nutritious dessert.

Sustainability wise, Earthchurn uses only grass-fed dairy because of the amount of carbon sequestration and higher standards of animal welfare. Industrial sugar agriculture is also causing massive damage in terms of soil erosion, wildlife habitat destruction, and chemical pollutants. Theoretically, this could be a zero carbon emissions product. As is usually the case though, storage would be very difficult to accomplish through exclusively renewable energy… Some day.

A massive reason for my war against sugar is the industry’s low level of ethics. Incredibly, the American public just became aware of the fact that industry officials paid off scientists 50 years ago to publish papers favorable to sugar consumption. These “scientific findings” unfortunately are still causing damage because they were used to establish the U.S. (and incidentally, global) nutritional guidelines. As someone that makes his best attempt in making a positive impact in the world through purchasing decisions, I’d rather not support this immoral, bullying industry.

A strong, supportive, and connected community is something that is important to me. I support the community of Austin by Mill-King milk and Vital Farms eggs. Thus far, all ingredients have been purchased through Wheatsville Co-op, which is a small grocery store that also prioritizes the health of the community.

Many people have asked for vegan options… No. The market has vegan products available. So Delicious‘s coconut milk based, stevia-sweetened varieties are my favorite. That’ll do until the vegan fad subsides or they disintegrate due to nutrient deficiencies. They’ve done enough damage to society by convincing restaurant industry to swap out traditional, healthy fats for toxic plant-based industrial oils.

I’m very thankful for the support in this endeavor. I hope to continue providing a more sustainable, healthier ice cream to the world. Earthchurn helps to give me more purpose in life and makes me feel as if I’m doing something beneficial for the community. As of now, Earthchurn is still not a registered LLC. I’m too busy eating my concoctions to go to the library and print off the required forms… Someone can steal it I guess. That would be acceptable. As long as they got it into store shelves and allowed people to choose a grass-fed, naturally-sweetened, no sugar added ice cream, I’ll be satisfied. I’m not in this for money. I’m in it to bring down Big Sugar. I’m in it to improve peoples’ lives. Join me in the sugar exorcism. You deserve it.

Thanks to Uncle Chuck for guidance on the name. Thanks to¬†Allison for the incredible photos. Even if I never talk to you again, thanks to Thaysmarie for the graphic design and website work. Thanks to¬†Dia’s Market for promotional assistance.

Visit us on Facebook.

Our new website is up, but still being improved.

IG: Earthchurn

What flavors do people want?

Is anyone interested in helping to increase Earthchurn’s positive impacts and reach more people? I would love help with admin, graphic design, website work… and everything else.

Nutri-hack Buffet King

These damn vegetables at the grocery store cost too much. Eating a vegetable-rich diet can seem more and more economically unfeasible with each $8/lb box of organic spinach tossed into the cart. That’s why my cheap ass went to Buffet King to see how I could extract the maximum amount of nutrients out of the $8.69 (before 3:30 and after military discount) bill! My guiding principles were as follows:

  • Prioritize nutrient-dense foods (vegetables and seafood)
  • Appropriate amount, not “as much as possible”
  • Intermittent fast pre- and post-meal
  • Focus on high-value options (AKA not rice, bread, or deep-fried items)
  • As always, avoid refined sugar, processed grains, and industrial oils

BKSBKF

A plate of sushi/seafood; a plate of baked stuffed mushrooms, salmon, and ribs with lettuce; 2 plates of Mongolian BBQ (with butter if you ask and decline the “butter” in the plastic contained mentioning “partially-hydrogenated soy” in the ingredients); and a plate of fruit later, I finally decided to waddle out of the dark labyrinth of endless food and obese community members. The fact that my phone died and I could no longer be accompanied by Christopher Ryan’s voice also played a part in my decision to stop eating. Considering the fact that a heaping plate of stir fried vegetables and meat would usually cost equal to my total bill, it is not much of a question whether or not I received my money’s worth. I had more rice than planned. The shrimp and salmon were probably farm-raised. The beef and pork in the BBQ were most likely factory-farm raised. Overall, I managed to ingest a significant amount of vegetables and meat with very little sugar, industrial oils, or processed grains.

Being my only meal of the day, under $9/day isn’t too bad of a deal for most people.

On the bike ride home, while attempting to hold down the bloated mass of fermenting plant and animal matter, I wondered to myself: is this even enjoyable? Is food about finding the most cost-efficient eating habits? Am I best off slashing my food bill to the smallest number I can manage? Or is food about enjoyment, community, and vitality?

When I economize every calorie, I can’t help but feel I’m merely wallowing in a survival mindset¬†when I know I have the capacity instead to view food as a catalyst to thrive. The research shows that the psychological value derived from food is directly tied to the price paid for that meal. As a compulsive over-eater, the impulse to over-consume is just too great for me to suggest I¬†rely on buffets for my meals. When food is in sight, I’ll usually eat it. When “the deal” depends upon the amount of good I can stuff in my face as quickly as possible, I’m inclined to go for seconds…and sevenths. I’ll stay away from the buffet as long as it means fewer moments lying in discomfort and wishing I hadn’t eaten that last plate of food.

Are you a buffet regular? Do they fulfill your needs or make you wish you’d stayed home to make that ecologically grown salad topped with grass-fed beef? All-you-can-eat definitely has it’s place, but what is the adequate frequency for you?

 

 

Continue reading “Nutri-hack Buffet King”

Iguana Slaughter Motivation

I want to kill and eat all of the iguanas. Nothing personal, my scaly green friends. It’s just that Puerto Ricans aren’t the only unfortunate folks fighting the terrible consequences of colonization… Given the innocence of Iguana iguana, I do not support torment, harassment, or unnecessary suffering of these beautiful creatures. On the other hand, my end goal is the extermination of this invasive species from the majestic island of Puerto Rico for the following reasons:

  • agriculture damage (supposedly millions of $)
  • road/infrastructure damage including cave-ins
  • airport runway problem/jet damage
  • lowered tourism due to impact on native plants
  • riparian ecology destruction leading to soil erosion
  • native plant predation
  • out-competing native lizards for food
  • predating native lizards?
  • predating bees and other polinators (according to Almighty Armando)
  • displacing factory-farm meat consumption
  • displacing imported foods (for Puerto Ricans)
  • free protein!
  • zero-carbon food source
  • highly nutritional food source
  • delicious ūüôā
  • personal harvest connects people to their food, the environment, and nature

14925622_10155464900165031_1410612987227729714_n

I’ve been holding this as a draft for a few months now, not exactly looking forward to the hours of reading scientific studies. Well it’s true that the only thing to fear is fear itself because it turns out, there is essentially no solid research! I had planned on economizing the damages for each point mentioned above and calculating the value of each dead iguana, but every other resource just gives vague amounts of damage, such as merely guessing “millions of dollars in damage!”

In the end, I guess I have to stick to theory and ethics regarding the situation. We as humans have a responsibility to remedy the destruction we have caused and that which is yet to be caused, but already set in motion by our actions. Unless we want a homogeneous global ecosystem with low biodiversity, we need to do something about the animals we relocate around the world. Eat iguanas. With all of the negative externalities inherent to the conventional food system, it’s a relief to have a food that you can feel morally good about. Although I have moved to Austin, I still plan to sell the highly acclaimed iguana jerky! I’ll post in the PRHGS Facebook group and my Instagram account. Please continue to support the cause through the Patreon account!

Big thanks to Allison and Michele for their continued support! If you missed it, check out the recipe I supplied to El Coqui of Rincon, which was published in their November issue!

If anyone is able to assist with the legalities of this project moving jerky from PR to Austin to sell for human consumption, I’d appreciate any help provided!

Now to hope Junior sends meat soon and look for invasives to harvest in Austin area. Farmers, call me about your hogs ūüôā

Ethical Food Options

13340057_10154928281925031_6051419465049046007_o

Why the hell is it so hard to buy food that doesn’t make me, as a more than averagely aware and¬†conscious consumer, feel like I’m destroying the world? All I want is for food to be available that doesn’t:

While it would be convenient to listen to your unvaccinated, dreadlocked, tie-dye shirt-adorned buddy and just stop “eating animal products, mannn,” the uncomfortable truth is that relying on industrial agriculture for your food will not remedy most of the issues highlighted above. Add to the inefficaciousness of that plan the risks of B-12 deficiency (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/1/131.long) and the probability of higher animal death counts (https://www.morehouse.edu/facstaff/nnobis/papers/Davis-LeastHarm.htm), there must be another option for a sustainable diet plan.

I also would like to omit discussing wild harvesting, home growing, and food waste scavenging. I think I’ve covered the importance of those in previous posts. I’d like to discover options within the marketplace for those that are short on time or traveling but hope to make the world a better place with their forks.

I’m hoping some options are available that induce a net-benefit for society and¬†the environment¬†through their purchase. Reducing carbon footprint is a major concern, so focusing on carbon sequestration through food is essential. It turns out that there are certain production methods that sequester carbon, such as:

There isn’t much you can do about tillage practices and cover crop use at the grocery store… maybe you can wait until those criteria are included on the food label. Until then, relying on grass-fed beef, goat, lamb, sheep, veal, bison, deer and their respective dairy products along with perennial produce should yield net-negative carbon emissions. Some perennials are:

Another potential avenue of environmentally responsible food consumption is legume crops. Legumes (beans, peas, peanuts…) fix nitrogen into the soil and can act as fertilizer instead of relying on synthetic nutrients or manure (http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_a/A129/). Is this enough of a benefit to offset the carbon emissions that are most likely being induced by the machines used to plant, harvest, and process the crops into food? I want to say yes… but it’s pretty much just because I love peanut butter. I see no issues¬†if the legume food products are grown without fossil fuel dependent machines, but that is really not available in any supermarket.

It appears you can demand carbon dioxide pollution to be mitigated by buying grass-fed ruminant meat and dairy as well as perennial fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, and vegetables. Maybe legumes can be considered to have a negligible environmental impact, but it would seem more likely that the carbon dioxide emissions outweigh the nitrogen fixation.

So it seems to me that I can save the world with one bite of steak at a time ūüôā At the supermarket, the non carbon-related issues can be ameliorated through buying organic. The “industrial” organic options available at the market will still probably cause soil erosion and use a monoculture system relying on fossil fuel driven machinery, so if you can find a farmers market (www.localharvest.org), a small scale producer might be more conscious of those issues and take preventative measures.

Is this helpful?

Will anything productive come of choosing these suggested foods?

What are your suggestions for a hungry, supermarket-dependent traveler that cares about the world??

Thanks and come visit me in paradisaical Puerto Rico ūüôā

Calculated Disease Risk

11018577_1047387575274117_6275453501069242554_n

So Julie and I need help. We like eating peoples’ leftovers. Nothing else brings us as much joy in life. But while we are enjoying our discarded half plates of chicken tikka masala donated by unknowing mall patrons, off to buy some shoes or whatever people do at malls, we are being bombarded from warning from concerned friends and family. “You are going to get diseases! :O,” my uncle, Paul, informs me, adding that exact face at the end of his statement for dramatic effect. I¬†heard whispers¬†that Julie’s family has threatened to disown her for her sickeningly sustainable dumpster diving addiction.

Are these kind souls saving us from killing ourselves with that infected, greatly yearned for half-filled cup of Columbus mocha? Or are we being subjected to more Malthusianesque ramblings brought on due to overblown perceptions of the rates of herpes, mononucleosis, the common cold, and flu?

I’d LOVE¬†to see some research that systematically compares the safety of:

  • conventional industrial grocery store food
  • restaurant food
  • takeaway food
  • hunted/gathered food
  • random peoples’ leftovers
  • friends’ leftovers
  • grocery store dumpster stashes
  • make out session with rando in the club that you don’t remember until your friend tells you the next day

Was that Indian guy mean mugging Julie and I today as I presented that tray of plates partially¬†filled with succulent pumpkin and a plump chicken carcass because he thinks he’s more royal than us due to¬†his choice to pay money for his food? How closely correlated are peoples’ disgust with eating someone’s meal remnants and their general lack of respect for other citizens of this wonderful world?

Carbon Neutral Food Plan

11895284_10206661143223543_1318501384260067329_o

Convinced by the doomsdayers like Bill McKibben, who’s article convincing people that the Earth’s habitability¬†is near extinction and fossil fuel companies are the devil I had to read for class (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719), I’ve been more motivated to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by my lifestyle. Obviously one person can’t fix the issue, but at the same time it all adds up and we are all capable agents of social change. I¬†believe it’s all of our civic duties¬†to “be the change” we want to see in the world. Inspired by http://lowcarbongirl.com/, I aim to demonstrate how we can all stop fuelling the anthropocene extinctions and the Koch brothers’ rapidly inflating wallets (http://archives.politicususa.com/2011/09/21/koch-brothers-wealth.html).

I decided long ago to start walking instead of driving whenever it is feasible for my health (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/17-reasons-to-walk-more-this-year/#axzz3n7095s31) and heat my house only when Dan or Jay complained about seeing their breath while lounging around snapchatting, but I’ve recently zoned in on the food I eat and it’s effects on the global methane and carbon dioxide levels. Fossil fuels are heavily relied upon during the whole food chain from:

  • manufacture of fertilizer
  • manufacture of pesticides
  • heavy machinery cultivations
  • transportation
  • refrigeration
  • others?

So there goes the grocery store!

Options now include:

  • wild harvested meat, fruit, and vegetables
  • forlorn foods at friends’ abodes
  • leftovers at the school dining hall
  • unwanted sides at mall dining court
  • grocery store dumpsters
  • garbage cans in close proximity to takeaways
  • carbon neutral foods at the store (so far I’ve only seen wine¬†http://www.yealands.co.nz/wines/all/peter-yealands)

Posts about each of these to come if you beg… or bride with near-rotten vegetables

Some of this might not sound appetizing, but that would only indicate¬†you haven’t practiced using your scavenging eye enough. My amazing scavenging team members will vouch for the deliciousness and pure ecstasy we’ve derived from plenty of these sustenance sources. Let me know if you’d like to join next time we go harvest!

I still haven’t figured out how to cook my food without spurting¬†mass quantities of pollution into this¬†revitalising New Zealand air, but I welcome suggestions. Perfection in life will be attained if I could just find a reliable source of half-drank coffees like I did the other day at the mall. Or a carbon neutral source to buy. Anyone know of any? Tea and chocolate would be nice as well…

Garbage Guts

What do all of these items of food have in common?

image1 (1) image1 (2) image1 image1 image2 image3 image4 image5 image6

Yes, they were delicious. Yes, they were free. Most importantly, they were intercepted by my mouth directly en route to the garbage! I’ve embarked on a journey into eating almost exclusively peoples’ leftovers. Motivated by the impending doom of climate change and the fact that agriculture contributes to a large portion of global greenhouse gas emissions, I’ve decided to eat food that has contributed the least to this problem. Due to the climate change induced reduction in biodiversity and it’s effects on mental health (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987711000910), among other reasons, I feel that we all have a responsibility in ameliorating this issue and choosing to promote a fossil fuel intensive agricultural system is not something that makes me too ecstatic. I rely on personally harvested and scavenged foods from animals I have recently been fortunate enough to being to my freezer, fruit trees in my neighborhood, the community garden, and leftovers at the mall food court and the school dining hall. Either free of petroleum-based inputs such as pesticides, fertilizers, and machine cultivation or considered waste, these all seem to contribute zero carbon emissions.

The scavenging diet has become a source of much joy, as Julie or Alex and I proclaim out excitement with each properly spotted and secured morsel of edible sustenance. We’ve discovered that you can say a phrase such as “I really want a Coke right now,” wait a moment, and be granted your wish by an unsuspecting genie with blonde hair as she moves off to shop for some more shoes. If you are nice enough, the cleaning crew will join your team, offering up the juiciest Chinese grilled chicken and half-filled cups of Johnny Mango smoothies. The fun and scrumptious is literally endless! I invite any and all moral and ethically-conscious eaters to join me in my pursuit to save the world one succulent bite of garbage at a time.

Anyone have any tips, critiques, or suggestions?

I Love “Paleo”

39974_486420890030_6538837_n

I know. It seems a little wishy-washy to post about an affection of something I just broke up with last month. But I’d like to make a distinction between various meanings of “Paleo.” In some people’s minds, it is a strict set of foods that can or cannot be eaten, depending on your interest in obtaining and maintaining possession of the holy¬†Paleo Card. This is how I first became aware of the newly publicized movement, more specifically through a multi-million view adorned sugar-bashing video by Dr. Robert Lustig (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM) that was posted on an OSU Army ROTC Facebook group page by a then MSIV, CDT Shell. If I remember correctly, the video led me to Lorain Cordain’s Paleo Diet for Athletes (http://www.amazon.com/The-Paleo-Diet-Athletes-Nutritional/dp/160961917X).

Alas, as with every living, breathing entity, the Paleo diet evolved. Transforming into the Paleo lifestyle movement, it now attempts to encompass all components of life that affect a human’s health and happiness. There are many different formats that attempt to map out all of the areas of focus, such as Paleo Treats’ Nik Hawks’ 7 Pillars of Paleo (http://www.paleotreats.com/pages/7-pillars-of-paleo), which demonstrates the importance of nutrition, sleep, exercise, water, community, mental health, and sunlight. While I would argue that other¬†necessities in¬†the list are nature, spirituality, joy, movement, and stress management, I think it is important to keep a wide view of holistic health, taking into account evolutionary precedence and scientific understanding of what each of these pillars manifest themselves as in society today.

It is all too easy to get pulled into placing all efforts into improvement and optimization of only a single element of health. I explored this trap for years, placing all of my efforts into discovering and practicing¬†a “perfect” diet. This came, of course, at the expense of social health, sleep, and mental health as I would sometimes abstain from social gatherings or remain awake long into the night stressing over and researching the minute details of each and every morsel of food I may come into contact with and its physiological effects. With the realization that there must be a balance of effort placed on each aspect of wellness,¬†I happily embrace the Paleo lifestyle’s intent to improve a person’s happiness through making the best decisions in all areas of health.

Are the 7-12 pillars listed above suitable to maintain the structure of your house of health?

If not, what model is most practical for your life?

Slaying of the Coon

Recently assured of its legality, I decided it is time to let everyone know about a recent adventure involving a cool, calm, and collected varmint, a cold hearted killer, and a pathetically inadequate tool set.

As you may or may not know, I volunteer at a farm to trap rabbits. These beasts are wrecking havoc on the crops and at a certain density start to suffer from high rates of diseases and interspecies competition for food, thus lowering their quality of life (http://www.dnr.state.il.us/orc/wildlife/benefits.htm). So I kill them ūüėõ

Apparently, some people still aren’t aware of all of the negative externalities inherent to the current industrial animal production process and negative outcomes of eating this protein, so I will list some of them here:

Unfortunately, even if you only eat meat from wild or pasture raised animals, these problems can’t completely be avoided.

I use live traps that necessitate checking for an animal at least once daily. These joyful jaunts a mile or so out to the farm can be made even more enjoyable with the accompaniment of another individual interested in wild-caught sustenance or just an interesting time. I was fortunate enough to have a fellow cadet, Erica Coffee, express interest in and agree to participate in this eccentric endeavor one day. We walked out to the farm from main campus, chatting along the way about how bad OSU dining food is and other vitally important topics.

As the¬†live trap came within sight, I felt a rush of endorphins. The brown fuzzy contents started to make my mouth water while we¬†continued onward, attempting not to participate in the contact that the nettles so persuasively enticed my bare feet to conduct. I knew There was going to be rabbit for dinner. After two more steps, I was amazed at the realization that I had caught the world’s biggest non-domesticated rabbit! Walking closer, I had to wonder why this rabbit had distinctly not-so-rabbit facial markings…

11149775_10153790782845031_8704539300494409040_o

So a cute momma raccoon had come to play… I’d never had to destroy one of these before, but the stories told to me described the tenacious ferociousness that these critters are capable of, so I knew it would be a good time. I conducted the rabies sniff test… clean, move on to next step!

As I expected a rabbit, which can be dealt with by a quick grasp and some pimp slaps the the back of the head, there was no need for exogenous equipment.¬†The hissing and lurching, fangs first, into the cage toward me indicated that this might put up a fight. For a few moments I had some images of the beast¬†turning the tide and attacking and eating me… Coffee’s conservative composite risk analysis concluded¬†that the best plan of action was to release it back into the wild. So after I convinced her that I am a scavenger and this needs to end up in my pressure cooker, she realized she had a knife on her!

Spears are always a good idea right? No. Not really. Not when this thing had a wrestler’s neck that turned out to be impenetrable. After coffee made the spear, it looked like the best tactic was to two-hand pile drive the stick through the metal spacing through the neck, rendering the enemy growl-less. Agreement coming from Coffee, I positioned the stick above the target zone and gave a loud and proud¬†KYAH KYAH KYAH (royalties to Kevin LeMelle), smashing the point down as fast as possible!

This thing didn’t give a fuck. Posing as¬†the almighty honey badger, this raccoon deflected the spike off of its stone-hard neck, directly into the dirt. Standing there with a spear snapped in two, I realized it was time to bring in the big guns.

Discussing my next move with Coffee as we wandered back to campus, I realized I needed to use something with more force behind it and a sharper point. Good thing I brought my brother Jay’s¬†hunting bow to the apartment. I knew it would come in handy some day. As I inspected the components, I was disappointed to see that there were no tips on the arrows. Who the hell has arrows with no points? Essentially I would be shooting with a hollow tube, but the draw seemed to be enough to get the job done anyways so I wrapped it up in a poncho (I’m not sure if bow possession is frowned upon in this area…) and rode my bike back out to my new pet.

I had high hopes as I scouted around¬†to ensure no¬†witnesses of the dirty deed. An arrow notched, the point lined up through the hole, and a napping animal seemed like the perfect situation. The release of the arrow didn’t bring my furry friend or I much joy. The impact induced large amounts of growling, so I renotched as quickly as possible, hoping not to let this girl suffer at all. I let a rip and was amazed as the carbon fiber rod bounced off its face and snapped right in half… Sooo don’t tell Jay that the arrow is currently somewhere in the Columbus dump slowly decomposing.

Since I¬†made the poor decision not to have a back up back up plan and just watched my back up plan crack into two pieces, I was awarded with another bike ride back to my apartment for more killing supplies. Grabbing a hunting knife, Army issued leather gloves (this is really the only thing they are good for anyways), and some 550 cord, I embarked¬†on, hopefully, the last cycle race to the farm for the day. The feeling of anticipation was growing as I stared at the snoozing ball of fur in the cage, wondering how the hell I was going to grab it, hold it down, and slit its throat without letting it do something similar to me. But, like prepping for the delivery of a bad pick up line at the bar, I knew I’d be better off just executing without any further contemplation. The moment I opened the trap door and shoved my hand in, I knew this was going to be a battle…

The dragon reared its head as I attempted to trap it with the gloved left hand, thinking I might be able to pull it out. It was’t having any of that. Abandoning that plan and just forcing its razor sharp teeth toward¬†the bottom of the cage, I shoved the knife into its neck as swiftly as possible, given the narrow confinement of the cage. If only brand new knives were sharp right out of the box. Pushing harder so that the blade was actually able to cut hair, skin, and whatever else came within the blade’s path, I happily retracted the weapon along with¬†my hands. Checking to ensure that the bite that occurred at some point during our play date wasn’t¬†fatal, I was thrilled to see that no skin was broken. No longer making the “oh shit I’m going to die” noises that haunt me for weeks after a kill, this baby bled.

My victory celebrations of sniffing the closest flower and refueling on a cattail were cut short when I saw the raccoon rallying and moving around again. At this point, while amazed at the display of resiliency, I decided I had had enough messing around and opened the cage up again delivering half a dozen sharp stabs with my OJ Simpson knife to seal the deal. This is why I am now convinced I need a gun. Finally, I was able to string up, skin, and pack the body up for transportation to my pristine kitchen.

After checking for supposed scent glands and finding none, I soaked the body (head on, of course) in a saline solution at fridge temperature for the rest of the day. At sundown, I rubbed the meat with olive oil, sea salt, baking soda, and curry (the go to spice for all occasions). All of the above, along with some water, were placed in my pressure cooker as I turned it to high at 60 minutes and went to bed dreaming of tender, succulent, delicious raccoon meat for lunch.

I know you (assuming there is someone that cared to read this far) might be thinking this is “gross”. This tell me that you were not one of the multiple people that tasted the delicious results, giving me praise for making “varmint” taste not just edible, but tasty. Some people that refuse to partake in such culinary adventures argue that there is too much risk associated with eating raccoons because of rabies, parasites, and other woes that I see as having overblown risk perception among the general public. My rebuttal to those ideas is¬†that I’d like to see the research suggesting that there is more risk of¬†parasites coming from wild animals as well as¬†the rates of rabies in the area for raccoons. Can’t you tell visibly that a raccoon has rabies? My mind is still blown that people have such a low risk perception with the conventional meat they choose to consume every day, given all of the risks and negative outcomes highlighted above. Every bite of food I can consume outside of that system is something I am proud of and have faith in. I aim to place as much societal awareness on what I eat as possible, and I believe wild animal consumption is highly¬†moral, nutrition, and delicious.

Some also bring up some biblical mythos that people “aren’t supposed to” eat animals that small or certain body parts. I don’t know all of the details, and since they are often relying on¬†outdated fictional ramblings to make decisions for them, they most likely don’t either.

So if you are wondering if you can eat a¬†pest in your area, the answer is probably yes. If you are wondering if I will help, the answer is yes (as long as you have a better slaughter plan…). I’ve also eaten groundhog, field mice, birds my cat caught for me, and many other odd tasty critters. I am extremely¬†jealous of my declawed cat’s hunting skills. She is almost worth the layer of hair she leaves on all of my belongings.

What free, healthy, and ethical protein sources are you thinking about trying out??