As human animals, part of understanding our world is to know what to eat. We can make our individual choices, and ideally they'll be good ones, drawing from the natural world, not only corporate grocery chains. In Oregon, you can pull crawdads from a clean river. Crawdads are biologically fragile and don't do well in pollution. They're not like mussels, those filter fish who survive in petroleum-laced ports.
When I was a girl we'd go crabbing at the docks. Sometimes we'd dig clams in the bay. Hemingway always said that even the poor would be okay as long as they could catch fish. It's true. I think a lot about wanting to protect the word's resources, to keep water clean and cool, and eco-systems working.
On this day, we went to a crawdad feed--crawdads, vodka and lemonade. A woman sitting beside us told our daughter, "Just don't eat the bile sack."
My daughter whispered to me, "What's a bile sack?"
We took the crawdad apart to find it.
She asked, "Why don't we eat it?"
I said, "Because it has bile in it."
"It's part of the eliminative system."
"Poop. It's part of the way the crawdad eliminates what it doesn't need."
My daughter looked at the dissembled creature on her plate. I'm not sure she ate any of it. That's okay. The lemonade was great.