June 14, 2009

Subsisting on stewed squirrel ... in Racine

Barbara Ehrenreich, a journalist who wrote the book on subsistence existence a few years ago -- "Nickled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" -- is back this weekend, writing an Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled "Too Poor to Make the News."

She writes not about the Nouveau Poor, those Americans now forced to give up vacations, or dinners out, but rather about the already poor, "the estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of the population who struggle to get by in the best of times."

One of the examples she cites is an unnamed Racinian: "In Racine, WI, a 51-year-old laid-off mechanic told me he’s supplementing his diet by 'shooting squirrels and rabbits and eating them stewed, baked and grilled.' "

Not a pretty picture in a city whose priorities favor spending $55,000 on a piece of public art. Read her entire article here.


  1. Well, if he's shooting squirrel in the city, it must be in Riverview, where gunshots are the norm. More likely, though, IF this is true, the man prefers to eat squirrel and rabbit (I know people who do) and he is hunting them properly. If he can do that, he can get to the free meal sites throughout the city (where a number of residents from my apartment building eat daily - I know a little about Racine's poor).

    Right after mentioning the Racine man, Ms. Ehrenreich's article also reveals the "shocking" fact that people are eating raccoon in Detroit. Duh - coon has been eaten for generations by people who live in areas like Riverview. I was first introduced to it in Chicago, where a co-worker had some in a crock pot in our shop's backroom.

    White bread journalism.

  2. There is worse coming. One of the many resions I like to see Victory Gardens, they allow us to grow more of our own food.
    What I find very troubling is that Brian O'Connell of City Development would rather see more low income housing in Racine then allow a group of neighbors to not only grow there own food but maybe even make a few dollars from the efforts.
    Please call him at City Hall and ask Mr. O'Connell/City Development why he hates Victory Gardens.

  3. Btw, please do not take my comments to be pooh-poohing the problems of the poor. I am the guy who is always hollering about the common people of Racine being screwed over by the elitist oinkers who run this town. (How many people are eating squirrel in downtown? How many are eating cat? - trick question.) I just don't believe that Ms. Ehrenreich's concern for the poor extends anywhere near as far as her concern for her income - otherwise she would research her "facts" rather than rely on hearsay to sensationalize an opinion piece that will do NOTHING for the poor, but will propel her career (and book sales) further.

  4. OrbsCorbs

    None taken growing up hunted Coons and fished for Carp. Everything we could do to take care of ourselfs we did.
    Now IMHO we have far too many in Racine like Brian O'Connell of City Development who will not allow those in Racine in Riverview or elsewhere I think, to do more to care of themselves. No his idea is more low income housing in an area with lots of empty houses and gangs.
    Is that what he thinks Riverview needs more of?
    I think yes after all he does not live there or even drive by it.

  5. Heather in Caledonia6/14/2009 2:32 PM

    I see no problem with hunting squirrel as long as you're a decent shot and don't hit people or property. There are certainly plenty of squirrels around here - I don't think it would hurt the population any.

    I also think the gardens are nice. We have small one in our yard - I only wish we had more room for a bigger one! It's great for people to be able to grow some of their own food.

  6. The city has no business in low income housing. We have vaccant and ready to be vaccant houses all over the city. Even the children know because they are losing their friends. We need something that gives people pride and a reason to stick it out in Racine. Low income housing is not a bright future idea. If I have to eat squirrel then some other things better be nicer.

  7. Regardless of Ms. Ehrenreich's example, the fact remains that approximately 1/3 of the children in this city are living in poverty. People should be aware and appalled. This must change.

  8. I've had squirrel - tastes a little like chicken. Knew a local guy who would shoot them, cook them up and bring them to work as a novelty/treat!

    Could be this is shocking to the cultural elitists, but people eating squirrel and rabbit is not new, though it is more prevalent in rural areas, and I'm not talking Appalachia here - I'm talking rural Wisconsin.

    What I find more "shocking" about this article is the fact that this guy is out there in a heavily populated urban area shooting stuff. Does city ordinance allow that? If so, more power to him!

    I do agree with OrbsCorbs on this, though, maybe someone should direct this gentleman to any of the churches with free meals to supplement that squirrel diet.

  9. Orbs - if there is such a thing as a common person, they are so of their own choosing. No one needs to be common unless they want to be. You seem to think there is something admirable about being common.

  10. 9:05

    Even Kipling had respect for the common man. Thinking you must be part of the DRC or Johnsons

  11. Colt - thinking you don't have very high self esteem.

  12. 9:50
    If you only knew.

  13. Okay so what is Dickert doing about it?

  14. Anon 12:55 - The guy's been in office about a month. Do you think we should give him a little time to see some results? give me a break. Any opportunity for some of you people to whine.

  15. Some past mayors were only on the job a total of one year. That was the term. So it is not too unreasonable to question what direction Dickert is going in. Where is the plan?