Park Pigeons: An Excellent Source of Protein?

| 7/28/2008 12:27:00 PM

SquabLocal foodists have gone too far. I’m all for stalking the wild asparagus, but hunting the urban pigeon? Perhaps we should also dine on Washington, D.C.’s plentiful rats

Wired’s Alexis Madrigal is “65 percent not-kidding” about eating pigeons. “A food source that lives on our trash that is so reproductively prolific that we can't kill it off? That's green tech at its finest!” writes Madrigal. “Pigeons are direct waste-to-food converters, like edible protein weeds, that leave droppings that could be used as fertilizer as a bonus.” All it would take, suggests Madrigal, is a quick rebranding. “Pigeons can merely reclaim their previous sufficiently arugula-sounding name: squab.” 

The squabble over squab continues at Earth First. “Would you be open to eating things not commonly considered appropriate as food? Pigeons? Squirrels?” it asks. The question might be better worded as “things not currently considered appropriate as food.” Pigeon used to be widely consumed in the United States, Madrigal points out, and the same is also true of squirrels. Modern-day squirrel hunter Hank Shaw laments the decline of squirrel consumption in the summer issue of Meatpaper (article not available online).

Twentieth-century cookbooks as common as The Joy of Cooking and Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking included squirrel dishes, writes Shaw, as well they should have—the critters were plentiful, and the flavor is fine, he assures. “Its sweet darkish meat vaguely resembles the dark meat on turkey,” Shaw writes. “When squirrels have been eating acorns or other nuts, their meat is deliciously nutty—not unlike the Spanish bellota hams that gourmands shell out princely sums for.” 

Shaw makes a tempting case for the tastiness of squirrels. So why not squab? Well, if we use Shaw’s logic—squirrels taste “deliciously nutty” because they eat nuts—wouldn’t city pigeons taste, um, “deliciously trashy” from feasting on our trash? 

Image by Ernesto Andrade, licensed under Creative Commons. 

8/5/2008 7:51:32 PM

I have eaten pigeon in Asia at a Western style steak house. It was fine, a little gamey, seemed mostly dark meat and not much meat.

Matt Foster
7/28/2008 3:53:45 PM

I had to "bite" when I saw your title. I agree that I don't think wild, common urban pigeons should be eaten. Now stool pigeons are another matter; they could be used to supplement the diet of our incarcerated societal members. Just kidding. We could raise pigeons for food though. If we fed them nuts and cranberries then their taste would be perfect for Christmas of Thanksgiving dinners. If we fed them rosary beads and bible pages, then conservatives would definitely include them in their sunday dinner line-up. It's settled. I'm investing in pigeon farms.

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