'The Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal' Is a Food Truck Unlike Any Other

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Jim Forest

Based in Amsterdam, its mission is to reduce food waste by serving up delicious versions of animal pests and other unwanted, marginalized critters.

There are a lot of crazy food trucks out there, but “The Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal” in Amsterdam is one of the most interesting and unusual. Started by a couple named Rob Hagenouw and Nicolle Schatborn, the purpose of their food truck is to sell the meat that nobody wants in an effort to reduce unnecessary food waste.

It all started five years ago, when Hagenouw and Schatborn made a wild goose stew as part of an art installation. Geese have become a major problem in the Netherlands, ever since a law was passed to protect their dwindling population in the 1970s. Now hunters are hired to shoot geese at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam to ensure they don’t interfere with aircraft engines, and an estimated 400,000 geese are killed annually throughout the country. The carcasses are usually ground into pet food.

After talking to hunters and learning about this excessive waste of perfectly edible meat, Hagenouw and Schatborn came up with the idea of starting "The Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal" food truck, called "Keuken van het Ongewenst Dier" in Dutch. They perfected a recipe for goose croquettes that not only taste good, but also start important conversations about everything that goes to waste.

Since then the menu has expanded to include other unwanted and marginalized critters, such as the muskrats that infest the canals of Amsterdam and are culled by hunters under strict regulations. Hagenouw told NPR’s The Salt: “Muskrats are plant eaters, so they are really, really delicious when you eat them.” They also sell a “Peace Pigeon” roll, made with pigeon meat that was commonly consumed prior to World War II.

Most controversial is the “My Little Pony Burger,” which apparently is a big hit with little girls, less so with their mothers. Horses are commonly kept as family pets in the Netherlands, but since the economic downturn in 2011-12, many have been sent to be butchered. Horse meat is fairly easy to find in Europe, particularly Italy, where it’s considered a delicacy, so it is not as shocking to see it on a menu in the Netherlands as it would be in North America.

NPR writes: “Schatborn and Hagenouw say they try to use [horse meat] as an opportunity to educate people – asking what they eat, suggesting they think about how eating something like chicken differs from eating goose or horse. They hope that people will recognize that eating horse, for example, is no different than eating cow.”

While the thought of eating some of these animals may be emotionally challenging for some, it’s hard to argue with the logic of eating meat that would otherwise go to waste. At least, it makes more sense than supporting the awful factory farms that supply a narrow range of 'acceptable' meats to most supermarkets.