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“Roadkill finds its way into vegetarian Green House for the third time in a month:” Unusual student activity described in Security Blotter piques curiosity

<adkill finds its way into vegetarian Green House for the third time in a month”
Last week’s Security Blotter reported “two people…near the Rec Center with a shopping cart containing a dead wolf” at 10:00pm on Thursday, February 12. Security officer Randy Atchinson elaborates: “The animal turned out to be a small deer. Roadkill.” According to the Blotter, “the students were looking forward to conducting a science project.”

Jeremy Hayward ’09 and Lindsey Nietmann ’09 were transporting the mangled carcass, found on MN highway 19 near the arboretum, to vegetarian Green House when security stopped them. According to Nietmann, “security just asked us, ‘where are you going with that deer?–’” perhaps a reasonable question about a deer in an EconoFoods shopping cart. Security proceeded to call the state police, who arrived on site to issue the students a permit for their find.

No, the deer was not intended for a science project. Rather, the carcass thawed overnight in a shower stall, where the next morning Hayward and Nietmann stripped the salvageable meat from the animal with the purpose of eating it. Currently, over 50 pounds of “fresh” venison rests peacefully in the Green House freezer, next to the house’s generous Tofurkey supply. A magnet holds the carbon-paper permit to the freezer door.

“It had been on my mind for a while,” said Hayward, “that there was a very good source of meat available on the roads.” In fact, Hayward is not the first to turn to the highways for food. The Roadkill Café in Australia, whose slogan is “You kill it! We grill it!,” specializes in serving tire-marked wildlife to its customers, and for a thrifty $6.99 offers “The Original Roadkill Cookbook,” where you can find recipes for “Prairie dog pâté” and “Too-slow doe.” The café takes pride that “roadkill is never wasted” in the restaurant. Hayward likewise asserts that “something useful should be done with the biomass of roadkill” rather than letting decomposers have their way. To Hayward even a “carcass rotting on the tundra constitutes wasted biomass.”

“In terms of meat,” Hayward argues, “it doesn’t get more sustainable than roadkill.” Both residents of Green House, Hayward and Nietmann have sought sustainable food from other sources – like the dumpster outside of the Food Co-Op in Northfield, where the pair recently discovered a discarded mass of the meat-free product Tofurkey – yes, the same Tofurkey previously mentioned snuggling with the venison in the freezer. The pair also orchestrated what Hayward described as “an invasive species dinner, for which we harvested all the food that we could that was around here that doesn’t belong.” The meal consisted of nettle and burdock soup, a dandelion and creeping Charlie salad, lawn plantains, and dandelion root fritters. “It was quite good” according to Hayward.

Sustainability has become a buzzword at Carleton; the campus seems to be pushing itself towards a greener future. Public compost bins advertise their differences from trash cans with cool green lettering on a neon yellow backdrop. Sodexho has implemented “Greenware,” a line of utensils and cups made entirely from compostable corn products. “Dorm wars” are currently underway. Candidates for student-body president publicize their interest in going green. And meanwhile the wind turbine smoothly purrs in the distance.

Green house champions the sustainability movement on campus by encouraging higher standards for green living. The house prepares vegetarian meals Sunday through Thursday, in addition to providing the campus with several green-related activities a term. Green house manager Nora Mahlberg ’09 suggests that “harvesting roadkill goes well with sustainability and the theme of the house.” “If I weren’t a vegetarian,” Mahlberg says, “I would definitely eat it. I don’t think it’s crossing any lines at all. In principle, I think it’s fantastic.” Incidentally, Peter Barnett, operations manager of Sodexho at Carleton, declined to comment on whether Carleton dining services would consider adding roadkill to the menu.

When asked if eating roadkill made him at all uncomfortable, Hayward, a vegetarian for nine years prior to this term, said “I’ve certainly crossed some people’s lines about what is consumable and what isn’t, but not my own. Somehow doing this puts me in a much better position of understanding what goes into eating meat, and really feeding oneself in general.” In fact, the only real concern he has is that “I’m not a very good butcher.” He admits that dismantling “the first deer was unpleasant – especially removing the head;” but he insists that “instinct is contingent and short lived, and in cases where ideology and instinct conflict, I think ideology has to come out on top.” When asked what they would not harvest, Nietmann responded that “I’m not going to eat anything lacking a third dimension.”
Currently the deer count is three. When will it stop? Nietmann says “I don’t think I could pass on another decent carcass. It’s like Tofurkey in a dumpster: too good to be true.”

(If you would like to sample the roadkill venison, Green house (Geffert House, 112 Division Street) is hosting an “all-you-can-eat venison extravaganza,” beginning at 6:00PM on Saturday. The email invitation indicates that “Tofurkey will be served for those who think [eating roadkill] reveals severe mental instability.”)

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