Raccoons inspire wide-ranging emotions in human observers; some perceive them as precocious, cute emissaries from the wild world, while others think of coons as rampaging varmints out to raid their trash and menace the family pets. But can you envision welcoming a raccoon on your plate?
Everyone's favorite neighborhood varmint apparently tastes great when barbecued, and raccoons could one day serve as an ideal substitute meat for the eco-conscious set—assuming anybody can get over the fact that they're eating raccoon meat. With no steroids, no antibiotics, and no growth hormones, raccoons are already as organic as it gets, and their plentiful population could support an extensive trapping and hunting industry.
Raccoon consumption has already started trending upwards in states like Missouri, which lacks laws preventing trappers from selling raccoon carcasses. What's more, it's cheap: A single carcass costs about $3-7 and can feed about five adults. Even wildlife biologists extol the health benefits from eating raccoon:
“Raccoon meat is some of the healthiest meat you can eat,” says Jeff Beringer, a furbearer resource biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.“During grad school, my roommate and I ate 32 coons one winter. It was all free, and it was really good. If you think about being green and eating organically, raccoon meat is the ultimate organic food.”
However, you should keep a few things in mind before you go trap and make your own coonburger. Rabies in Missouri populations is nonexistent, but some East Coast raccoons do carry the disease. While raccoons are often disease-free, it pays to check in with your local wildlife officials.