Saturday, December 13, 2008

ACLU and Alberta Co-op

The sun was out a couple weeks ago, so I went for a walk with my dog to catch the light and warmth. "excuse me, do you have a minute?"
And so he tells me about his mission against prop. 8 and will I join the ACLU. He gives a good spiel and I appreciate his efforts....
"Really? You mean I could have been eating beer marinated slugs this summer?"
"Well, I don't know if I'd want ones that had been outside soaking dead in beer. But there are those people who eat road kill; swear by it. That isn't my scene. I like to collect when they are alive and purge them, make sure they are healthy."
"That's great! I don't know why I didn't think to eat the slugs...of course."
OF COURSE! You hear that? It is happening.
I took some of the left over Muhammarra to the Alberta Food Co-op where I work as a substitute/on-call cashier. It was a training session about recruiting owner-members. A few people tried the dip. Others were interested in being so near to it. One co-worker came up to me, "Is that with slugs? I heard you eat them. I am so excited to try. We had 4 cabbages in our garden completely covered in slugs last year and they devoured them."
"Yes, and now you can devour the slugs with the cabbage in some delectable vegetable garden mollusk medley of your own imagining."
"Do you purge them? How?"
I told her my methods for clearing my mind and garden mollusk guts before eating them. She smiled, "Cool. Thanks!" excited and anticipating the spring to come.
And won't it be fun to go on a snailing expedition in Ashland in spring?! Someone from tango just told me that the sidewalks are slippery with snails in May and June. What a blessing!

Slow Food potluck...

I walked in a few minutes late. Lots of savory dishes on this table, salads on that, desserts over there. I realized how many events and situations I have been attending lately that give me the initial feeling that I am in school; the sense that I am a bit awkward inside and self-conscious (does it have to do with the clothing?) No, it is the entering into a place where you know no one and don't know what to expect. Sure, it will be fine, perhaps fun, perhaps educational. But there is an element of effort that is noticeably different from when I go to a party that is just a social gathering about relaxing and enjoying. Oh yes, and I know over half the people there. Whenever there is a cause at hand, this case p:ear was announcing its work with homeless youth, the focus is on action and responsibility; revelry is not the theme. Love, delicious, nutritious food, and caring for the health and wealth of people and planet was on the table.
I was serving up an adaptation of a Turkish Muhammarra using pecans from my housemate's parents' farm, local red peppers, garden mollusks (mostly snails, about 25 small slugs and one large Limax Maximus), lemon, parsley, mint, toast, garlic...It tasted the same with and without the garden mollusks, so I consider this a great starter dish for the squeamish. All but 1/4 of the dip was eaten. The sign said "Muhammarra: Pecan, pepper, and garden mollusk dip." The escarglows (snail shell candles) burning in the lettuce leaf garnish helped illuminate the ingredients for those questioning "what does she mean by garden mollusks?".
I am learning so much about reducing my footprint. When I went to the potluck, I was under the impression that I was to bring enough plates and utensils for 6-8 people. It seemed odd that 6-8 people would all bring enough food for 6-8 and also enough plates and napkins...wouldn't that be like 60+ plates? Yes, and that is how I learned that you bring food for 6-8, but a ceramic plate, metal fork, and cloth napkin for yourself. So there I was handing Anil a small paper (of the highest recycled materials, I tell you) cocktail plate and thinking, "Crap, I just gave some ceramic dishes back to this catering guy the other day or I'd have some in my car." And all this Pelegrino water is just for us, honey, so drink up. The wine people brought is apparently for 1-2, not 6-8, and so don't imagine that a draught of organic red will be smoothing over your palate any time tonight. It worked well. Anil and I could load up our mini plates and go back for seconds. It helped me take one bite of the over 30 or 50 dishes and truly downsize my eyes. Probably the most vegetables I have eaten in months in one sitting. So delicious!
I spoke with an acquaintance about her food. She introduced me to her husband and said, "He ate it!" about my dip. She did not. I looked at his plate and smiled. There was one bite taken from the small slice of bread shmeared with the reddish paste. "You didn't eat it." I semi-rudely blurt. Really, did I have to put him on the spot? He tasted it. "The slugs kind of ..."
Of course. It took me 4 years to get there. Some are already there, others close, others definitely aren't heading there and that's great. I have many things that don't interest me, and I commend him for giving it a shot at all if it wasn't on his radar before.
As we were getting my dish to leave, Anil points around a wall to a small kitchen with a dishwasher open revealing at least 10 plates. I laughed. The dishwasher was directly across from the food. Obviously the whole plate fiasco was a form of entertainment for us and a humbling reality check for me. There are so many ways to lessen our waste on this planet. Fortunately I am gleaning bits of knowledge as I continue to immerse myself in the world of food.

Friday, December 5, 2008

SO I wrote this a week or so

ago. It has been crinkling up on the back side of an outline of a bracelet my sister asked me to make for her. I made it. How fun to hammer silver again. I was housesitting where I could use the studio. It was comforting and rewarding to play with metal.

Back to the other side: I turn on the radio. I am listening to Studs Terkel being interviewed on Speaking of Faith," a radio program on OPB. "How great. This is perfect for cleaning the garden mollusks."
So I rinse them in a colander and put some new cornmeal and crushed egg shells, fresh water into their small last residence. For the last 20 minutes of the interview, I sit with my metal strainer full of snails and slugs. Their gliding and sliding around the rim, over one another's shells is mesmerizing. One large snail reaches out to lean on a Limax Maximus slug. One tiny translucently young snail hitches a ride on larger one. Then a small slug wraps itself like a letter C around a shell traveling the narrow circular rail. So much roundness. Such social creatures. Could you be any less violent than them? At any minute they will climb to towering heights. Like in the Dr. Seuss book, Yertle the Turtle, they stack atop each other, but I don't get the feeling they are competing for the best view or to be the king<>queen of anything. They like each other and are uninhibited about their affectionate and curious nature. I am speaking for them, sort of paraphrasing the unheard word. If there is scientific data showing that they are truly merciless angry shell stacking assailants, don't hold back. I can synthesize and adjust for my fabrications.
"When you speak of death, it turns to life, you see, " Terkel is talking about his experiences writing his book, Will the Circle be Unbroken. No one speaks of the end, their end, without coloring the book of their life.

It makes me wonder why I can kill the snails and slugs; one friend lightly called me "miss mollusk murderess." I will not kill a chicken, squirrel, rabbit, dog,...and then eat it. I am imposing gradients of value onto forms of life. It is sobering and real. Not heavy and downer, but fills me with a peace that it is really that simple. We must eat. We must reduce our waste. We must allow for the food chain to exist and be responsible for our choices...sounds heavy after all. But when I hold a tiny newborn snail to Henrietta the chicken, she hammers her beak, "That's MINE!" I know she isn't feeling guilt about meeting her dietary survival needs. She needs to make eggs; snails have calciferous shells that she needs.
My conundrum when speaking to vegetarians and vegans is summed up in Horton Hears a Who: "a person's a person no matter how small." That Seuss wisdom is powerful. Just take out the person and add mollusk and you see, I know I am taking the life of something valuable. Maybe one day I'll stop eating them. For now I am grateful that they pirate my neighbor's vegetables and flowers while leaving trails that glisten me into the moment everywhere.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I have been carrying the 30th birthday...

in my mind, not sitting down to share. It was amazing. The Halloween rain didn't happen this year. I got some great catch, and the garden mollusk kheema in a pumpkin with aloo gobi surrounding it was well-received. People ate with ease and were not averse to the land oysters offered. They were well-flavored in the spices and squash; a good texture and seasonally warming feast.
Tim Pearce told me that the slug pics I sent were both in the family Limacidae. One, the bigger, was a Limax Maximus (sounds like it can lift you car and toss it over a bridge), the other most likely a Lehmannia Valentiana: "I haven't eaten very many slugs from the Limacidae, but I do remember trying a Limax Maximus a long time ago. I don't remember whether the digestive gland was foul tasting or not; since they are in a different family from the Aronidae, for which the ones I have tasted do have bad-tasting digestive glands. You could try the Limacidae digestive glands yourself and see how they are...I am glad to hear you are practicing biological control by eating your pests!"
So we ate the glands of the European invaders; nothing detectable to describe as foul-tasting. I can't quite express my impression about that night, it was such a grounded and vibrant affair. Considering how many people think slugs are gross, this was a gourmet-appreciative group eating with silver in a home being created to capture the colors and qualities of far away travels. Not pretentious, but conscientious.
Afterwards, after the hours of cooking and being filmed while making a dish I had never tried before, I needed to go tango dancing. Sure, I was in "costume" and people thought I couldn't get over Halloween...well, maybe one of my old housemates was right, "I would think Halloween was a high holy day for you." So no one thought that I was just in from a day of Miss Snail Pailing. I shared some of the left over Garden Mollusk Kheema with a couple people there. OK, 2 people tried it.
"What is it?"
"Garden Mollusk Kheema."
"This is GOOD."
I wondered, "Do I need to say that slugs are in it? I mean, I have always announced when even the slightest bit of snail is included, like in my gingersnail bread men cookies. But this night I said "garden mollusk has meat."
"Do I look like a vegetarian to you?" and the bite was being swallowed and I know, I know. I plan to declare the ingredients boldly and in plain laymen's terms when I serve for them again. Somehow at the moment, I didn't want to act like something was wrong, when nothing was. Garden mollusks are a local meat source found in gardens. It is for the people with mollusk allergies that I worried. I was being honest and didn't want to act like I was dishing out an eww sick kind of meal:
"Wait!! There are slugs in there! Are you ok with that?!" No, "It is garden mollusk kheema. (pause) there is meat in there. (pause)." I wasn't pushing it since I was there to dance and drift into the musical dreaminess and loving connection. He swallowed and smiled and I smiled and danced.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"On the Trail..."

Last Tuesday I received a call. She had seen my card at Gossamer Fiber Arts ( next to my escarglows. "Do you collect slugs too?"
"Why yes."
"Do yo charge?"
And then I realized that my pricing plans are not that cut and dry. I truly need to pay for my time, energy, and if driving, gas. But... I went to her house last Thurs. evening to hunt garden mollusks. Lee was upset by the massive damage caused to her artichoke and strawberries, tomatoes. She throws them into the street, like most frustrated gardeners, and still feels that the battle is stacked against her. She is right. It takes a certain amount of vigilance and time to get the balance in a new garden. I also spoke about garlic and crushed walnut shells as a barrier to help protect the plants. And really, the slugs were doing a great job of attacking the fallen fruit and dying leaves. Super good detritus removers. Lots of slugs, about 6 snails. There were the flat-shelled snails with grey-blue bodies as well, but very small and I am not familiar with those as edible. I took some photos of the slugs so I can send them to Tim Pearce and have him identify them.
On Halloween I am gong on a hunt with a camera man. He wants to share the renewable, sustainable effort on public television; just like fishing with a line, when collecting by hand, not likely to decimate anything. Should be fun to collect on Halloween. I love all the kids' in costume and I will be ready for the occasion, of course. I am getting this collection ready for a friend's 30th birthday feast this Sat. Nov.1st. She asked me to prepare garden mollusks for her party, so how can I refuse to serve so many acupuncturists, yogis, artists, dancers these local treats?! And right on the heel of Halloween. The phrase trick or treat makes me wonder how they will feel about the slugs...I can't decide whether to make spicy Thai wanton soup, Indian kheema, or Italian Babblucci, and if I am spelling things incorrectly, I am spelling things incorrectly. It will come to me. The right dish is coming to my mind. Om.
The curious thing about this "service," is that while it is a pest control service, it also provides me with a form of food (even though I am still squeamish about the slugs. I admit, it makes me a bit nervous like scuba diving) . My "clients" are eager to feed me. They seem to realize the service they are providing me (free of charge!) and I haven't been so great at asking for the $10 per half hour fee. Yes, I have halved my $20 per hour pail rate during this election year unregulated federal greed lust time. I am open to barter at this point. I love that Lee gave me a beautiful rich cup of rooibos tea and I got to meet her in her lovely home. It was welcoming and she offered to share my service with plant and gardening people, so that was a great payment. I like sharing the concept and seeing where it leads. Lee was intrigued about the prospect of becoming more dependent on our own backyards for dinner. There is a trailer for "On the trail...with Miss Snail Pail" on YouTube. It is by Golden Bear Casting (Greg Young). He contacted me a few years ago about a project and now has edited a 12 minute documentary. Please check out the trailer. He used a friend's music, Jody Hughes (
Today I will make more escarglows, the candles from the snail shells using recycled soy and beeswax drippings. When lit, they last about 45 minutes and honor the life given by the snail as they shine light onto the great potential of each living being. I hope it inspires people to take action for the true wealth of the planet. I am getting into the ethics of business, so I will leave with the hope that some of you are thinking more seriously about what you can do to support alternatives to pesticides and toxic living and create an abundance of wealth even at a time when the "news" would have you stricken with fear and perilous doom about the economy. And please vote!! The coral reefs want Obama.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Telephone lines and dangling slug threads

I am looking out the window over to my view. The giant dill and marigolds by the tomatoes across the street. Midday sun hot on the bright orange caution cone behind the little garden that is my ponder gaze place. Pallets and broken wood piled high hedge the garden. Like a jazz ensemble with its fractured sound, the reclaimed wood awaits hauling to the Rebuilding Center next door.
"Why the piles?" I mean, I enjoy the arrangements, the variety of thrown not placed configurations as it smothers the one green plastic chair that no one ever sits in. I finally realize that the forklifts and trucks that come and go are not only dumping but lifting. Giving and taking. The homeowners share this space. The man who carefully tends the plants in the 1/8 plot so lovingly grows his flowers and produce amidst the mayhem.
Recently I have noticed electrical lines, power stations, telephone poles with a new sight. Many people have drawn attention to them in paintings, art, ...but only recently have I begun to catch myself tracing the negative space and twisted cables to their furthest reaches. Crossing the mountains and trees, houses, and streets. When I was working at a 50th wedding anniversary recently, there was an absence of lines. A presence of expansive golden land arriving at trees and sky. I could feel the disentangled landscape and found the vast vast vast.
In contrast, I turn to last Friday, September, 5th. I went to the Slug Queen Coronation in Eugene. Where the eternal limitless lineless land was now crisscrossed with slimy glitter trails. It was "Old Queen Radia," 2002, who invited me. She owns A Natural Burial Company ( here in Portland. When we met, we first spoke about natural burials (surprise), but then we slipped to talks of garden mollusks and I mentioned a slug thug. Voila! Unbeknownst to me, I was speaking to a S.L.U.G. Queen!! The Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod. ( For about 25 years this event has been going on. Once a queen, always a queen. It has aspects mirroring beauty pageants of old, but embraces diversity, equality, and hilarity.
I drove out to Eugene with my little love bucket, Plum, (he is a dog). My caddy full of handmade objects gave the impression that I was loaded with bribes (bribes are encouraged in this contest), and people were sure that I was a contender. No, I only learned about the event 2 days before. No, this is my life. I am not acting. Although I think I should take some of those comedy classes with last year's Queen, "Glorious Gastropause," because funny needs to stay.
At times I crawl into my shell when someone is talking to me about me. It strikes me that now, yes, now, I better be at ease. And nothing makes life better than being able to breathe and relax. Laughter is the key. So back to the Coronation. One of the Queens has made it to the last 17 coronations without a slip. The costumes, titles, talents and concepts are unique to each contestant. Not a lot of similar styles which makes for an imaginative sojourn into deep and shallow waters of creativity. This year Slugtoinette and her grand court won the crown. A true fashion designer, with all that precision regal refinery. Impressive pomp and circumstance!
Before I hauled out to Eugene, I called Tim Pearce in Pittsburgh to ask some slug questions. I really wanted to make a day of it in every way! We spoke about the hollowed foot of the slug versus the meaty mass of the snail's foot. And the acrid tasting bit within the slug tail tip. It was one of those calls that adds bioluminescence a la luciferase or aequorin to my life. Enough glow to light up the next few hours or so as I stood at the event with my caddy pulling heavily on my neck and my red hair tightly tugging on my forehead. I was in a surreal set-up and yet agriculture, food routes, science, so serious were on my mind. I needed to laugh. And that is why the comedy of the old queens was so divine.
As Plum and I awaited some snacks at The Dough Co. after the coronation, I had the opportunity to congratulate Queen Slugtoinette and her posse as they waltzed by. And a true MSP gift arrived as Plum and I stood in silence by the door to The Dough Co. Well, for Plum the gift was the chicken handed to him by the guy working inside, but for me, it was the threesome who just had to know. Had to know what I was and why. They were people who consider slugs, might eat them, care about farming, care about resources, actually had garden mollusk problems to such an extent that we exchanged contacts and spoke of a Slow Food Convivium. How great! Pamela said she'd try eating the irritating slugs by the fistfuls that congeal around the pipes at her farm. I can't wait to hear how it goes...One last thought, mating.
Someone I work with at the Alberta St. Grocery Cooperative said he saw slugs mating the other day. He described in great accurate detail what I opened to on page 91 of Battle of the Sexes: The Natural History of Sex, by John Sparks. While looking for sculptural inspiration, I found myself in the biology section. Was it the lions on the cover or the title, who knows, but I grabbed the book and poignantly opened to page 91. Two slugs entwined like a corkscrew dangled from a shiny thread of slime. A translucent parachute-like umbrella of their genitalia quite massive below. Very different from copulating snails. Just because they are similar hermaphrodites, doesn't mean they like the same positions.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pesticide Peddler

I spoke with one today. He is a a self-proclaimed pesticide peddler and organic farmer. I asked about pesticide screening and he said that it could run me $400 per pesticide. It isn't something you can broad scan, you need to zone in on the exact component you wish to find. Expensive prospect! I think I will stick with testing for lead, arsenic, maybe the water and soils in the areas.
I asked him why organic farming can't compete with conventional; does he think it can?
"Well, if you go into a store and there is a worm in one nectarine next to a worm without a nectarine..." No, he said a nectarine without a worm next to a wormy one, "which would you buy?"

I understand the financial situation for farmers, but that helps me clarify my goals. I want us to envision balance in our lives. Grow more gardens with beneficial insects and birds to maintain enough balance so that we don't have such uni-crop problems. Huge fields with only one crop is absurd for nature. It cannot control such an out of control gift for specific predators. In the mean time, slugs are out of control; eating them is one easy way to tip the scales a bit. My pesticide peddling organic farming friend, wow, he cancels his own vote. Most people need another person to do that. He said it is very progressive to imagine everyone getting personally involved in food production. But really, if you spend 2 hours a week at a community garden, grow some berries, have a few chickens, tomatoes, sprouts, anything that creates edibles. Even hunting for mushrooms, garden mollusks, wild greens, you will have such positive impact locally and globally.
Maybe my political and philosophical views are too independent and interdependent. I am upset by the chasm between my concept of wealth and say, our president's. If you are battling enemies all the time, when can you actually nurture your dependents? When can you actively care about the details of harmony and hope? If you focus on all the problems, you'll become a wreck. If you focus on all the fun, you'll become a wreck. Better to have fun solving problems and taking train rides. There is a risk of a wreck, but you're going somewhere!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

not mentally ill, just spiritual

What a trail. I am talking with people every day about how to find a lab that will test the slug and snail tissue. I mean, how to find funding for the analysis. I can see the opportunity for a grant; combine the fact that garden mollusks are an untapped local (organic?) resource, a protein source with no antibiotics or irradiation, and eating them is a way to avoid pesticides or garden mutilation, that adds up to a serious agricultural food science pesticide reduction GRANT! (and if we discover they are toxic little pollution receptacles, good to know)

And I keep the faith. The faith that mental illness comes from blocking these ideas, not from patiently excavating and seeking alternate routes. I bring up mental illness because most people I know have at one time or another been concerned about their mental well being. Most likely they were on the cusp of a new awakening or spiritual growth spurt. Perhaps they were grieving a loss left unattended for far too long, or a recent setback. Maybe working so hard at something stressful and forgetting about food, rest, and fun. I see this whole snail, slug, and coral thing (that has to do with my work to help the coral reefs) as a direct link with my spiritual need to live in the eternal center of life and death. Recently when asked about my use of the word spiritual:

Chris: What do you mean when you say "Spiritual?" I am curious because a lot of people say "spiritual" and it seems like what they are expressing is a higher emotional sensitivity to things. Almost like if they have a strong emotional connection or feeling towards things, they are somehow more spiritual than others...

Me: I guess when I say "spiritual," it's about life and death. Religion and spiritual questing originated with people's desire to understand life and death. Not just life and death of the physical body, but life and death of thoughts, feelings, dreams, phases...change and passage. How do we live in the presence of the passing and the becoming?

And we biked on. And so with that little side trip, I return to the situation at hand. I am going to call Scott Exo of the Food Alliance and see if he has any guidance. He's very involved in matters of sustainability and agribusiness. Wise to these things that we eat, breed, and seed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

As I await...

Well, As I await a reply from Dr. Tim Pearce at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I accept his website info as validation that slugs truly are snails with their shells on the inside. They are edible and he is credible. I wrote to him with questions about slug nutritional data; perhaps he'll recommend labs that might do tissue analysis. I embrace the hidden whorled ones as peers to escargots.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

another nocturnal adventure...

Snails are such night owls, and so am I. And they meander, as I. And most importantly, while you read this, envision a snail shell. It starts at a point and spirals out. No need to ask, "What's the point?" I started at one when I typed "snails," and it is all expansion from there.

Back to last night. Riding my bike all over Portland with friend, Chris Carlsson (author of "Nowtopia," "Critical Mass," and other books about radical social change), I absorbed the full moonlight and let it guide me home. Without my bike lights, I was a lucky pedaler to have such a clear and glowing path. We discussed the challenges of public spaces and privatization. How newly built shining boxy structures with overly-manicured cement and plant layouts will one day thrive with the decay and recovery that occurs with all places and spaces. People and plants will reclaim a new order out of the persistence of life and death.

We mused about relationships, about serial monogamy and the joy and challenges of love and partnership. Acknowledging the differences between males and females, I only recently realized how differently we think and behave. A blessing and a curse to wake up and smell the pheromones. It isn't that I didn't get attraction and the obvious, but the way we respond to the opposite sex and some of the sociobiological theories newly printed are fascinating. If you are curious, check out (PAX programs) and the book, "Sperm are From Men. Eggs are From Women," by Joe Quirk. Angles that aim to stir the pot of peace and frustration yet more. I can no longer assume that a man is going to get it, or vice versa. It is a conscious choice to collaborate and accept the differences. Now to wake out of my Sleeping Beauty Cinderella stupor. I still hope for something more "meaningful" from an intimate, sexual relationship than fixating on the size and reactivity of my amygdala.

Snails have it all!! As Hermaphrodites- they really do have it all. And the love-making lasting 4-12 hours.... Now that makes for a grand show of reciprocal affection. Do you know about Professor Ronald Chase at McGill University in Canada? You must. I wrote to him a few times about his research and my love of all things sex in the snail. I am not sure if my last email missed him, or if my interest in feeding my snails colorful foods to attempt to create rainbowrific shells caused him to recoil and rethink my integrity. No matter, I encourage you to Google "Prof Ronald Chase-home page." You will see how Cupid may have been born from snail gazers, and why again, snails are leaders of our time with their massive neurons.

Can you smell the Calcium! I swear there is something about snails, something about their Calcium and slime that will benefit human reproductive health. I feel it and have felt it for a few years now. Just seeing Dr. Chase's mention of the mucus as a means to secure reproduction for the dueling swords, it all clicks. That mucus really sticks, and all that Calcium. Oh sure, skeletons seem like the obvious connection. Bones need fortification. But an artist with no real scientific education like myself, why would you doubt my hypothesis? It is in the peptides!! Reproductive human health will receive a boost once we figure it out in about 12 and half years. Please, sooner than that. Molluscan mucus has some vital healing, generative force. Once we get to eating all these garden mollusks (not all, remember, balance) we will need to skim the vital slime for creative scientific purpose.

And that is where I conclude: science, art, health, environment. Do you have a snail story to share? Any sluglore? Sling it!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I wrote something last night...

I think it is more of an editorial piece, but I will share. It came to me as if I were writing for some garden magazine or newspaper. An attempt to persuade, I suppose. Whether you are on board or not...

If you are growing a garden, any plants, odds are you are raising pests as well. And you probably hate them for destroying your hard work and vision of "your garden." You didn't hope for a row of holey lettuce and headless sunflowers, but now that you have them, your anger spurns you to torture the thoughtless, cruel organisms devouring your photosynthesizing babies.

I used to hate snails. I could step on them and throw them to the eucalyptus park across the street. There were hundreds in the garden. Every time I put the last pat of earth over some glorious new roots, I felt not only happy satisfaction, but anxious tension that some land mollusk troop would slide on over for a feast. This is what I call a problem. Everyone I know complains about it and everyone continues to reach for a way to kill or ignore this perceived enemy.

Sure, chickens. We have them. And they do eat so many pests. If you can go this route, do. They are great pets and their eggs are free range. But again, not all people want chickens, and wild birds just can't get all the newborn slugs and snails; these hermaphrodites are quick to procreate. As slow movers, they need some defense against predators, so they reproduce constantly in a numbers battle against speed.
And that brings me to us humans. When did we rise above consuming garden mollusks? Related to clams, mussels, and oysters, so highly valued as delicacies, snails and slugs are overlooked by mainstream American society. We are fools for neglecting our backyard bounty! With gas costing $4+/gallon, and grocery prices soaring, why not do some backyard exploring? (Dr. Seuss influence)

If you read all the websites talking about chemical and physical warfare against these invertebrates, you might actually believe they are hard to catch. They are not. Hand collection is the number one method for reducing their populations. When I became Miss Snail Pail in 2004 (not a pageant), I enjoyed swinging my pail of helix aspersa, also known as the petits gris. I maintained my prejudice against the sleek slug. Not only by name, but also appearance, I was discriminating against the shell-less gastropods. I preferred to await my Slug Thug to drown them in beer. When he arrived, we were sure to embody our own personal mythology:

Miss Snail Pail collects snails. She purges them and prepares them so to feast.
By this practice, she honors the cycle of life and death that is natural and necessary
for survival. Slug Thug nefariously drowns them in a mug of beer. He swills the beer and lets the slugs die a sad, useless death in his bottomless mug of hate.

Oh maybe a bit heavy handed, but aren't mythologies all about the contrasts and drama of nature?

And here I sit, on my little uncomfortable throne, the kind I remember my mom sitting on to apply make-up when I was a little girl talking to her while she was getting ready for a night out with dad. The wood is hard and flat and squashing my ass, yet I need to let you know, all garden mollusks deserve the mercy of our murderous ways. If we must kill them, why not let them nourish us and give us their protein-rich strength? This chain links us with the truth: we are natural. Hunting and gathering for whole foods is still possible. When we speak of sustainable energy, are we really just talking about fueling our cars, computers, lights, and coffee pots? Can we afford to forget our bodies, minds and spirits?
Miss Snail Pail says: Eat your garden mollusks and you will feed your soul!!

If you live in Portland, OR, I am looking for your garden mollusks. Please put them in an empty plastic container: yogurt, cd's, ...and make some slits for air. Label with the date of collection and location. I want to do some tissue analysis to determine the nutrients. Also see if there are harmful amounts of pollutants. Seems like snails are "food" by most, but I think slugs will take a bit more sneers, so best to get the data.
Do you have a lab? Connections? That is my next challenge. To find an affordable way to test the tissue. It is expensive and I hope that I can get some funding or find someone who wants to help with this food science. If slugs are indicators of heavy metals (lead, arsenic,cadmium), that is important scientific data. I am sure the Fish and Wildlife will want to find out, don't you think?