Swans and Doughnuts

Reader Contribution by Sue Van Slooten
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Don’t think I’ve given up on recipes, I promise, we’ll have more on the way. It’s just that’s there so much to write about! In this outing, though, I have inadvertently created an experiment with industrial food — all  to please some somewhat fussy swans. Swans, you say. Yes. The big-white-bird-that-swims variety.

We live on a lake with a current (I know, that’s not supposed to happen in nature). It’s part of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. Part of the heritage includes the Queen’s swans, descendants of a few pair given by the Queen many years ago. As I found out, these are discriminating birds of good taste, at least the ones here.

These birds having been stopping by for a handout now for a few years. The first time I saw them, I couldn’t believe it. I gingerly approached them with bread (their preference), knowing what they could do if you displeased them. This is one species of bomber class birds, and they can hurt you if they want to. Of the two that visit, one is more outgoing than the other, he (I think) preferring to be hand fed, while the other is more reticent. Now that we’re used to each other, they come 3-4 times a summer for a visit. And food. But not just any food.

Last year during one of their visits, I didn’t have bread (I haven’t a chance to test if whole grain is preferred over white), so I ran out there with plain doughnuts. Woe to me! They refused to eat them. Interesting, I thought.

They’ve already been twice this year, a couple of days apart, and now that I know what to keep for them, we’re happy. Please see latest photos. But now comes the second part of my inadvertent experiment. I had bought a while back some glazed doughnuts, ate one, decided to freeze the rest. And that was the status of things, until I decided I didn’t really like the doughnuts, figured they weren’t that good for me, but maybe the birds and animals would like one. So I took one and put it out there for them. OK, the doughnut moved a bit. Some little pieces were missing. Do you know, that after a week, this thing was still out there, more or less intact? It wouldn’t rot, it wouldn’t dissolve, it just sat there. I was amazed. And it didn’t get eaten. Which reminded me of the swans and the other doughnut. Hmmm. I got to thinking, these were both industrial doughnuts, and no animal wants them, avian or rodent. Not even a rodent? (As in squirrel, chipmunk.) Next thought: Why am I eating them? Time for the trash bin. In they went, with the assumption that 25 years from now, they may still be recognizable. Really causes one to wonder. I suppose the next thing to check is what’s in them, but I have a feeling I already know, or should have known.

So the moral of this long story is, industrial food is really not food at all. Yes, it can be eaten, but is it a food source, as in a nutritional source? If you ask the animals, the answer is no. Next conclusion: If I want a doughnut that badly, I’ll make my own. Which brings me to more experimentation, and a recipe for you next time. Isn’t life tasty? 

Read more of Sue Van Slooten’s food adventures.