I am a hypocrite.
I eat meat, but could never ever kill an animal myself. I admire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s mission to only eat what he kills himself. That would pretty much instantly turn me into a vegetarian. I’d look into the eyes of a chicken or lamb ready for slaughter and run away with it, sobbing, to raise it as a pet. When I was 13, I decided to be a vegetarian. My veggie hating father and my veggie mangling (boiling frozen veggies to the point of no return) mother laughed, but acquiesced and took me to the grocery store. At the time, their only vegetarian suggestion was for me to eat tofu “fried with bologna for flavor.” Verbatim suggestion of unhelpful grocery store clerk. Suffice it to say, that vegetarianism didn’t last.
I could pretty easily go veggie now, but K really, really likes meat and is not into ditching it so we’d be making two different meals which is divisive, time-consuming and a pain in the butt. So we take care, as much as possible, to purchase meat from the farmers market or from animals that have been pasture-raised, grass-fed and humanely treated.
Enter our neighbor. We’ll call him “Bob.” Every neighborhood has an overly involved neighbor. Someone who seems to know everyone’s business and has an opinion about it. When we call a plumber, “Bob” sees the van outside our house and will stop me when I’m walking the dogs to ask me what the problem was and tell me I called the wrong plumber. I should have called HIS guy. Nice guy, good to have someone looking out over the neighborhood, can be a little much sometimes. But “Bob” has an epic garden. He is retired and it’s his hobby. His entire huge backyard is covered in veggies, herbs, fruits and even a small grove of fruit trees. The bane of “Bob’s” existence is rabbits and squirrels. He crafted his own crude electrified fence at squirrel level to keep them out (something that freaks me out every time I’m invited to step into the garden). Last year, he regaled me with tales of the rabbits that were stealing all his tender young plants. He’d taken to snaring them and killing them (the rabbits, not the plants).
I was not the appropriate audience for this story. In fact, I recently buried a deceased baby rabbit in our front yard (so the dogs couldn’t dig it up in the back yard) and I leave its sibling and parent rabbit in peace in their home in my front garden. They may be eating and dooming all the plants and shrubs, but they’ll move out eventually, right? I can’t imagine evicting them. So “Bob’s” snared, dead bunnies bother me. But they also got me thinking.
What is he doing with them? I believe just tossing them in the trash, which feels so wrong to me. Nothing I say or do is going to make “Bob” let the bunnies romp around in and chew his garden. Those who tread there are doomed. But why let the rabbits he has snared go to waste? I asked K if we should take his freshly killed rabbits for food. Neither of us knew what to do with that question.
So I’ll put it to you — would YOU eat a city rabbit? (Oh yeah, we live in a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis, MN … not the inner city, but definitely still the city). It’s probable these rabbits have been eating pesticide-laden grass and from herbicide-drenched gardens. Are these rabbits even safe to eat?
If so, what on Earth would we do with them? I don’t know (nor do I really have a desire to know) how to prepare a rabbit for food. Would we bring it to someone who could do this for us? Where is that place?