LIFE AT CEDAR MOON: Salmon harvest

* Note: Cedar Moon is the residential intentional community at TLC Farm and a demonstration of high-density, consensus-based cooperative living. *

I can’t call myself a vegetarian anymore. When Justin and Ellen came home with 120 pounds of fresh salmon, caught the day before up in Bellingham, I knew that this was the time and place to partake in the bounty. After all, local, fresh fish harvested by *** seems to be a whole lot more sustainable than eating processed soy beans frozen and shipped across the country. It just made sense. And, eating salmon connects us to the ancient natural flows of Cascadia—salmon are literally the lifeblood of this whole eco-region.

At first I was a little hesitant to even be in the room with 120 pounds of dead fish in various stages of being cut, cleaned and processed, but as I witnessed eight of my Cedar Moon-mates work with such intent and intention that I crept a little closer. Soon, I was piecing together the process.

Ellen was chopping off heads and slicing the bottom of the fish to take out the guts, to be used for compost. She quickly figured out that many of the fish were female, and loaded with roe, so she carefully pulled out the sacs and stored them in the fridge. We hear that fresh salmon roe goes for $100/lb so we wondered if it could pay for this catch!

Justin helped gut the fish, and then Ty worked on cutting up the filets. Daniel, with his attention to detail, pulled out the bones.

Then we cooked the skeletons with the remaining meat so that we could pull off the little pieces and use them for salmon cakes. In other words: we used every possible part of the fish!!

After noting that the room didn’t even smell fishy—that’s freshness for you—someone said that we should try the filets raw. I first cringed as people started taking bites of raw fish, but after watching them melt and moan in deliciousness, I decided to try it.

“Yum! Wow! Now that’s vital food!,” I exclaimed. Suddenly I knew why people go gaga over salmon—not only is it yummy, but it’s also packed with protein, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Power food!! And, again, what a deep way to feel part of this bioregion, annual cycle and long tradition of people-salmon connection.

With the suggestion of making fresh sushi, I jumped on the job of making rice and collecting nori rolls and wasabi. In a few minutes, Laura and I had added ourselves to the Great Salmon Harvest Party and made sushi for all. At the end of the night we had two big tubs of iced salmon filets, at least 30 lbs. of vacuumed packed salmon and many rolls of salmon sushi. What bounty!

Feedback and participation welcome! Please send bug reports to