Outlaw Cuisine: Eating Road Kill

Technically eating road kill is illegal, but a vegetarian forager helps an ex-hunter make outlaw cuisine in the book “Dandelion Hunter.”

| July/August 2013

Portland has the kind of features real estate agents love to boast about: snow-covered volcanoes rise to the clouds in the distance, old-growth rain forests ring the metropolis, and gardens are productive, enjoying long growing seasons with plenty of precipitation. But the city also has something a little less charming: impending doom. On a slow news day, this is the sort of thing you might read in one of the local weeklies:  

In the reasonably near future, perhaps within our lifetimes and quite possibly as soon as tomorrow, an earthquake will strike Portland with roughly the same force felt in the January 12 [2010] Haitian earthquake. But while that quake lasted less than 40 seconds, the shaking in Portland will continue for at least four minutes. Portland will feel a quake with a strength, duration, and destruction never before experience in the developed Western world. 

That is the beginning of an article that ran in the Willamette Week newspaper in January 2010. It continues: 

Underground gas, power, and water lines will be pulverized. The soil beneath the Portland International Airport will temporarily turn to soup. […] This is the scientific consensus on what will happen here sooner or later. And the latest data suggest it may in fact be sooner. […] The latest studies of undersea landslide debris, released last spring by Oregon State University geologist Chris Goldfinger, suggest a Cascadia subduction zone quake happens every 300 to 350 years. The last one occurred 310 years ago yesterday. 

The thing about living in a place that could crack at any given moment is that you get to thinking about survival situations in a more serious way than people who read zombie novels in, say, Pennsylvania. You get to thinking about them kind of often, actually. Even people who are not living on a fault line can choose their own adventure from a dazzling array of options: hurricanes and tsunamis, infectious disease, volcanoes, nuclear war, solar storms, asteroids, economic collapse, and so forth. Any of the above could short electricity and disrupt the transportation of farm-raised foods to grocery stores, leaving us to suddenly fend for ourselves off the grid. When water ceases to flow through garden hoses, crops will wilt, but wild plants and animals will be thriving as much as ever.