By now you may have heard that Hotel Vermont is serving “roadkill” during our Wild About Vermont Game Dinner on Saturday, November 7. While the term conjures gruesome images of highway accidents, Vermont, and more specifically Vermonters, have found a way to be sure those animals don’t go to waste.
Vermont is one of a handful of states that maintains an on-call program. When an animal is hit by a vehicle, the driver of the vehicle is offered first choice of the animal. If the driver declines, the game warden will begin calling those who have signed up and deliver the animal. Many use the program as food assistance, while others wish to stay connected to traditions and this land.
We have received some inquires as to whether the meat is safe to eat. All meat served for human consumption is highly regulated, and though some of the animals being served met their fate in an unconventional manner, any resulting meat is held to that same high standard. Roadside tests, butchery regulations and proper storage are all a part of the process used to deem meat safe for our tables and kitchens. And that’s not to say all of the dishes prepared will come from “roadkill”: poached animals are confiscated by game wardens and where possible, harvested to provide food for the community. Still more is donated by hunters.
So why the Wild Game Dinner? For one, game dinners are a treasured Vermont tradition. Community centers and churches have used game dinners as a way to feed their friends and neighbors while capitalizing on the generosity of local hunters. We also want to work to expand our palates and those of our guests; you can’t just walk into a butcher shop and order moose or beaver or bear. By working with Vermont Fish and Wildlife and Lake Champlain International, we get to sample the resources they work so hard to protect, and enjoy an adventurous meal in the meantime.
The dinner is $75, which may seem steep to some, however all of the proceeds benefit kids camps through Vermont Fish and Wildlife and LCI. Both organizations are helping to educate the next generation about sustainable food practices, outdoor education and sportsmanship.
For further reading, look here: An interactive map of the USA, explaining each state’s approach to roadkill consumption, Edible Geography’s explanation of road kill regulations, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, Lake Champlain International