Eating Aliens: One Man's Answer to Invasive Species

Back in high school daze, my buddy Jackson Landers was a hyperactive polymath who could always be counted on to have the most interesting summer plans. One year he swore he was going to walk to Peru and back from his house in Virginia. The crazy thing is, we all believed we would actually follow through with it. He was that kind of guy: seemingly knowledgeable about everything, entirely convincing, and just a teensy bit nuts (in a charming way). I lost track of Jackson for a few years but caught up with him recently, only to find that he's become a hunting instructor and locavore activist -- which means, among other things, that he teaches urban foodies how to hunt and kill and field-dress their own venison.

He was horrified by a recent massacre of 400 Canada geese in Brooklyn's Prospect Park -- the city claimed they posed a hazard to passing aircraft, and perhaps they did -- but it was more the method of their disposal Jackson took issue with. They were gassed to death and tossed into a landfill. “I saw people saying you can’t eat them, and I knew that wasn’t true,” he said, quoted in a recent New York Times article. "Canada geese, Mr. Landers said, taste better than most species of duck. Their diets are more consistent. 'They’re herbivores, grazers,” he said. “In Prospect Park, they’re eating mown grass.'"

So he organized a workshop to teach Brooklynites how to cook goose.

“When people think goose, they think something out of Charles Dickens, that it’s this big thing that you have to roast whole like a Christmas turkey,” Mr. Landers said by phone. “My theme is going to be casual goose. You can take that goose and just do it like fried chicken. You can take the meat off the bones and run it through a grinder and you’ve got gooseburgers.”

It was a practical solution to a pesky problem -- what to do with invasive or otherwise troublesome species, besides throw them away? In a world where so many go hungry every day, and in which privileged westerners are becoming more adventurous about what they eat all the time (in LA, for instance, tongue and brain tacos on a menu are more likely to provoke curiosity than gagging), the answer seemed obvious: eat them. And that is the concept behind Jackson's proposed new reality show, Eating Animals. Check out the trailer and let us know what you think in the comments!

A trailer for Jackson Landers’s proposed show about eating invasive species.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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