Let’s say you order a Reuben sandwich to go from the Range Rider Saloon. You are super-hungry at the time and busy painting trim in a living room. Hypothetically. So you bolt the sandwich but run out of storage space before finishing the freedom fries. The cardboard to-go container goes in the trash. Later, you are hungry again and the fries are just sitting there. In plain sight. Beckoning. Are those french fries officially garbage now, or fair game? It’s important to note there are no paint contaminants or nasty elements surrounding the to-go box. Just paper towels and masking tape beneath the container.

Is this like goal tending in basketball? Once a food item crosses the plane of a waste receptacle, is the official ruling that those cold, but otherwise perfectly-digestible fries are no longer OK to pick out of the trash and eat? I stared at those french fries for an uncomfortably long time debating this. I’m not going to tell you what I decided.

My pal Mike Midlo told me about a friend of his hiking out of the Grand Canyon and the guy didn’t bring enough sustenance, runs out of steam, but still has a long climb ahead of him. He finds a sandwich, though, abandoned by some litterbug along the trail in the bright sunlight. It’s in a Ziploc bag, now inflated like a balloon from salmonella vapors off-gassing from the mayo. Beads of condensation are rolling down the inside of the bag. The cheese is sweaty. The meat has a rainbow sheen. Bread soggy. Gross. But the guy holds his breath, releases the pressure from the bag and consumes this poison sandwich to get enough Popeye strength to bang out the rest of the hike. I admire the dedication to survival on display here, but also feel like taking penicillin just thinking about eating that sandwich.

What’s food and what’s trash has been on my mind lately because Oregon made it legal to salvage roadkill this year. I recently availed myself of this new program and have some fine-looking venison residing in my freezer that otherwise would have fed the coyotes and ravens. I feel a little greedy about depriving those creatures of their food source, so will be sending out an invitation for a potluck later and have the coyotes, ravens and magpies over. Play some horseshoes, croquet, that kind of thing.

This roadkill I brought home was a young mule deer in the middle of the road. I stopped to pull it out of the way so it wouldn’t be a hazard. Years of formal training from watching detective movies made me conclude the accident had occurred short moments before and the cause of death was likely a front-right bumper that would soon be the subject of an insurance claim. I wasn’t quite sure about the process, so went on home and did some research on how to legally salvage the deer. I direct you to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website for the full details. Look for “Roadkill Salvage” to learn all about it.

I’m glad this is legal now. I think it’s a great program. Waste not want not and so forth. I even have a new recipe. You marinate the venison with all the usual stuff, but in place of a bay leaf substitute a pine tree air freshener. Get your wok up to high heat using three road flares. Oh yeah, and instead of a wok use a GMC hubcap you found along the road but have washed thoroughly. Get a good sear on the meat. Add veggies. Stir with a tire iron, garnish with breath mints from the console of your vehicle, serve and enjoy. Goes great with a side of fries that maybe spent a brief spell in the garbage, although they never came into contact with anything but the to-go container.

Jon Rombach is a local columnist for the Chieftain. He enjoys fine dining. Whatever there is to eat is fine with him.

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