Locally Produced Geese On The Soup Kitchen Menu

By John Laumer
March 22, 2007, 7:33 a.m.

Going just by the name Canada Goose, you'd think the US has Canada to thank for goose crap all over its parks, golf courses, beaches, and even private yards on year round basis. In actuality, Branta canadensis has only recently elected to skip flying back to Canada in spring and gave up flying south to winter because of man-made environmental change. Storm water basins in every single US suburb provide perfect habitat, few people hunt any longer, natural predators like fox have been run over by the SUV parade, PETA won't let local government hire trappers, climate change keeps many local water sources open for most of the year, and millions of square miles of perfectly manicured lawns provide grass for grazing. Via the National Post of Canada (how fitting) we learned that:- "A Michigan citizens group fed up with Canada geese soiling the state's parks, beaches and golf courses is proposing the explosive fowl population be culled --and fed to the homeless. A volunteer waterfront committee in St. Clair Shores, a bedroom community of Detroit, suggests a mass euthanization will reduce thousands of "nuisance geese" infesting 10 kilometres of the town's shoreline...Donating bird carcasses to Detroit soup kitchens struck the group as a good idea after another Michigan suburb curbed a deer population by supplying local shelters with venison about three years ago,..."Rich suburbanites giving nuisance geese to starving inner city residents. Sounds so generous. Well, before you go off consider this. While the raising of ducks and geese for local market is a strong tradition in much of Europe and throughout Asia, for some reason you can't find a fresh one in most US grocery stores or at the butchers. Rubber chicken everywhere you turn; but hardly a goose to be found. The traditions of how to prepare them are mostly forgotten. Perhaps it's because they're not amenable to factory farming?

Truth be told, even a wild goose, as long as it's not the oldest toughest member of the flock, is a delicious treat. Wild geese have the disadvantage of relatively low fat content compared to domestic versions, so they take careful preparation so as not to dry out the meat. On the good side, the lean meat of a wild bird is healthier to eat than the grease packed domestic version. (There's a starter recipe at the end of this post suitable for cooking wild goose.)

If there is a risk of the St. Clair proposal it's that suburban geese can be extensively exposed to herbicide and pesticide treated lawns and may hang out and feed in streams and ponds that receive untreated sewerage overflows. The latter aspect may have something to do with why goose droppings cause beach closings: a problem of our own doing. A few lab tests by the MDNR could settle the question of whether the geese carry unsafe contamination levels. For now, at least, we have absolutely no reason to suspect a specific problem.

Think about Peak Oil, about what happens when the housing bubble eventually implodes, about the impact of extended drought and corn based ethanol on market prices for any corn fed meat. These are risk factors as well. The time may come when suburbanites are going to be wanting those geese for themselves. The soup kitchen diners should be so lucky.

The absolutely easiest way to cook a goose for the novice is to stew it, with skin off. Quarter the bird and pack the skinned pieces in a big covered pot or slow cooker with carrots and celery and onions and pieces of apple. Add salt and some spices like whole fennel seed, pepper corns, garam masala blend, curry...whatever you like...and cover with water. Simmer for several hours until the meat is tender. Remove the pieces and place on platter to cool. Separate the vegetable pieces from the broth using a colander and thicken it slightly with starch, adjusting flavor with additional spices. A cup of white wine recommended at this time. Plenty of fresh parsley flakes also a good addition toward the end. You can take it from there.