A growing number of conservationists are advocating the consumption of invasive species in an effort to fend off environmental destruction.
Invasive species, as defined by the USDA’s National Agricultural Library, aren't native to the local ecosystem and may cause economic, environmental or medical harm. They can exist in many forms: plants, animals or even microorganisms.
Many of the invasive plants, such as dandelion and purslane, were originally introduced by settlers for medicinal or ornamental reasons, while many of the invasive animals like Asian carp and green iguanas were brought in as food sources, pets or for pest control.
Mongooses, one example, were originally imported from Southeast Asia to control rodent and snake populations in Caribbean and Hawaiian agricultural fields. The Hawaii Invasive Species Partnerships has since estimated that the species causes $50 million in damages each year in Puerto Rico and Hawaii alone.
From feral hogs running wild in Texas to lionfish eating their way through the Gulf of Mexico to kudzu, whose nickname “the vine that ate the South” speaks for itself, the United States is facing an invasion of the natural resource snatchers.
While kudzu may have swallowed up the South, conservationists and food activists are encouraging American consumers to bite back.
“Why not combine the growing locavore movement with an ecological awareness and try and reduce some of these species?” says Joe Roman, conservation biologist, author and editor of EatTheInvaders.org. “It’s unlikely we’re ever going to eat them to extinction but we can reduce the numbers that are there and also get an excellent meal.”
Because these species typically won’t encounter natural predators, it’s primarily up to humans to control or remove the invaders. Some managerial methods involve mechanical control, like digging or mowing, or chemical control, like pesticides and herbicides. Or, people could eat them.
There are, of course, major hurdles with upping the consumption of invasive species. For one, most could use an image overhaul.
“Here in America, we’ve raised two generations of consumers to think that only luxury cut from the center of the animal is what we should eat,” says Andrew Zimmern, the host of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. “And only from three or four animals, I might add.”
Nutria, for example, is a giant water-born rodent – but many chefs compare the taste to that of a succulent rabbit. It’s all about consumer perception.
“You start to stretch our food imagination, we can take it in sorts of great directions,” says Zimmern.
“Think of a species that now shows up on menus that people wouldn’t have dreamed of eating maybe a decade or two ago. There is certainly an ‘ick factor’ we’re going to have to get over to promote this,” says Roman.
Chef Bun Lai, at his restaurant Miya’s in New Haven, Connecticut, actively pursues this sort of rebranding.
Miya’s offers an invasive species menu, with ingredients like European green crabs, lionfish, knotweed and wild swans, that threaten the local ecosystems.
“We hope that this will do a few things. First of all, it could potentially curb the dominance of invasive species in the ecosystem. Secondly, it would provide the seafood industry a greater supply of native seafood and reduce the stresses on those populations already fished,” Lai explains on the restaurant’s website. “Finally, we hope that it would encourage greater balance in the inter-regenerative relationship between man and the oceans.”
As with any strategy though, there are always risks. First, not all invasive species are safe for human consumption. Providing educational resources about how to prepare certain species (for lionfish, remove the poisonous spines) and what is and is not safe to forage is crucial.
Secondly, marketing an invasive species could encourage less scrupulous entrepreneurs to move these species where they didn’t already exist because they are potentially lucrative, Roman says. That could easily backfire and spread the species’ destruction even further.
Then, there are concerns of depleting the population, which Zimmern adds, wouldn’t be a bad thing because, after all, they’re not naturally supposed to be there.
“Let’s get to the point where they’re extinct or nearly extinct and then they’re a manageable resource. Let’s farm them, let’s do other things with it, but we can’t just let these invasive species be out in the wild,” he says.
Although population control is obviously at the forefront of the invasive species battle and consumer appeal is only part of the invasive solution, Zimmern says there is another opportunity: take them out of the ecosystem and find a way to feed hungry people.
“The biggest problem with the invasive species argument - in terms of not eating them - is people are hungry, these are good foods,” he says.
With protein’s high expense and one in six people living in hunger, Zimmern advocates in collecting invasive species and using that meat to feed children, seniors, people in the jail system and other people living below the poverty line.
“I will tell you right now, as someone that’s had a bologna sandwich in jail, I would prefer to eat nutria every day of the week,” he says.
Spaghetti and Periwinkles (Snails)
Serves 4 to 6
Used with permission from EatTheInvaders.org
About 2 cups of periwinkles in shells
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups plum tomatoes from the garden, or a 20 oz. can of imported Italian plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese
Wash the snails in cold water. Add periwinkles to a pot of boiling water, along with a small handful of salt to shrink and toughen the meat. (This eases their removal.) The snails are ready when the operculum falls off.
Remove the periwinkles from their shells with a nutpick or pin. (This can be time consuming, find an assistant if you can.)
Sauté garlic in olive oil. Add parsley and tomatoes, and cook for about 30 minutes.
Boil four quarts of water. Add spaghetti, and remove when soft but still firm to the bite. At the same time that you add the spaghetti, add the periwinkles to the sauce.
Mix the pasta and sauce in a warm bowl. Serve hot, with crusty Italian bread and grated Parmesan cheese.
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Democrats taste bad.
It's because they're full of vitriol and liberalism
Better to taste bad then to leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
Bill sure left a bad taste in Monica's mouth!
i'm sure these creatures will be eaten when there is nothing else to eat. survival and economics dictate what we eat and do but not alot of westerners realize that.
We eat lionfish on a regular basis in the Caribbean – there are hunting contests to remove them. They have no predators and are spreading like crazy. They're also delicious!
Even carp can be ground up and turned into pet food.
Aren't there laws preventing people from touching invasive species or even coming within a certain distance in some states? How are e just gonna eat them?
You're confusing the word, "invasive" with the words, "protected" or "endangered".
I recently saw a video online where nutria were being used as a primary food source for alligator/crocodile farms. With unemployment high it seems to me that unemployed people in areas where there is an abundant supply of nutria would get into trapping these animals and selling them as wild animal food.
I was involved in fisheries management for quite a few years I feel sure that a commercial fishery will eventually develope that will control these fish. I wouldn't be hesitant at all to consume lionfish.
Uh, nutria aren't fish... they're rodents. But the rest of your comment works.
I think NoTags knows that nutria aren't fish since the comment mentioned trapping them. The mention of fish was in a separate paragraph more or less so I take that as a change of subject.
Yep, good idea, I hold a frenchman in my garden to get rid of the snails biologically. And a southern redneck in the front yard to clean up the roadkill on the street.
Hopefully, that roadkill was a worthless yank!!
And we keep a stuffy European in the back yard for target practice.
We keep republicans in Florida to counteract hurricanes.
Pat Robertson takes care of that for us in VA.
You mean you keep republicans to counteract democrat hot air and vote-tampering.
Um, no, but thanks loads for putting the wrong words in my mouth. KUTGW. I meant quite the opposite.
Well, at the very least, wild hogs and invasive carp could be turned into pet food. We have an astounding pet population, and feeding them a food that their ancestors likely found in the wild, only makes sense. They'd probably love the flavor.
You know, it's to bad that I don't live in one of the areas affected by these things. By all means, I'd eat them and quick.... but I live in NM where we don't really have anything like these as issues. Any invasive species over here are pretty much a meh thing or are bugs that we spray for anyway.
I live in Florida and the Lionfish is the same to most of us.
If there are so many of these, how come they are so expensive in the tropical fish stores?
Nonsense! There's no invasive species, this is nature folks! Nature is not frozen in time. It evolves, species move and adopt to the new environment. "Invasive" becomes "native".
Actually,.......you're correct. Eventually, the local flora and fauna will adapt to these invasive species, as the invasive species will adapt to their new environment. That being said, if it looks good, eat it.
You sound like a firm believer in selection/adaptation/evolution. You described how it's supposed to work - but in reality numerous species are dying out all the time, with none to replace them except the invaders. Never has there been so few species living on earth as we have presently. If the evolution were true, then we would expect countless new and more viable species replacing/replenishing them - but that is not what is happening, instead we have widespread species decimation.
At the end of the 19th century the huge Cod populations of the Atlantic were being decimated by overfishing. Huxley, often called "Darwin's Bulldog" proclaimed that the fisherman should go on with their overfishing, because this would trigger natural selection mechanisms and result in more a robust population of Cod, better fit for survival. His advice was unfortunately followed and it led to the collapse of this species, which has not recovered to this day! This is just one of the many cases where wrong Darwinian assumptions has led to a catastrophy.
>but in reality numerous species are dying out all the time, with none to replace them except the invadersNever has there been so few species living on earth as we have presentlyinstead we have widespread species decimation<
This part is.. somewhat true but it is also common in the fossil record.
You are making things up to support your view.
To: TomTom the Pipers son - you claim that I am "just making things up to support my view". Could you please be specific about what I am making up? Huxley's distasterous Darwinist advice to the fishing industry is a fact of history. That we have scores of species' dying out, but no totally new species arising to replace them - is also a verifiable fact. Life arising spontaneously from lifeless matter, has also never been observed or duplicated, just a matter of blind faith. And the suggested mechanism for genetic change presently put forward by the synthetic theory (Neo- Darwinism) - that mutations can somehow ADD new genetic information into the gene pool to enable a living organism to evolve to a life form on a higher level of complexity has never been observed.
You need to consider that maybe you, and the evolution faith community, are making things up to support their view!
It may be a little hard to see what the problem is at first but it really is a big deal. Take it to the extreme to see what I mean. Imagine we found some strange creature on the moon. We bring it back to earth and it kills every creature but us. That would be bad but it also be natural in a way. But natural does not equal good in that sense. Invasive speicies homogenize nature. By reducing diversity of ecosystems you reduce possible tools for our and life and generals future use. After all most of the medicines came ultimatly from nature. If there are onl 10 speicies on earth instead of a 100 there are less possible targets.
Dandelion is an invasive species brought here for ornamental purposes. They have adopted very well to my lawn. The Emerald Tree Borer has adopted very well and now our ash trees are dying and we can no longer carry fire wood across county lines in the Midwest. BTW, one large wooded area that I know of is was 60% ash. They have had to cut down every ash tree there when the pest showed up. I guess fire ants are welcomed in the U.S. too. I forgot about that.
You or your idiot son is the one who released his pet Lionfish from Asia into the Atlantic Ocean. They eat everything in sight. What do you not get about that? Millions of years, no Lionfish in the Atlantic, one fool releasing a Lionfish in the recent past – a problem.
What are you talking about? Eat the invaders? How do you know they are edible? Forget yuck – what if you get sick or die? OMG
Wow. It's obvious that there aren't many courageous explorers in your family tree.
Why can't we just kill 'em? Get out your guys boys. lol.
Some invasive species which are not so palatable can be turned to food for fish farms so that pressure on species such as alewives and menhaden can be lightened. In the case of asian carp the cleaned carcasses sell well to China and the rest can still be turned into fish food.
Our beautiful Great Lakes make up 20% of the freshwater on earth (anartica makes up 70%). They're being attacked by many species like Zebra mussels and Asian Carp, not to mention plant life.. Sometimes I feel it's a lost cause.
And with Lake Baikal in Russia, at 20% that makes the world's fresh water content at 110%!!! Do your math and do your research. Otherwise idiots will think they have 10% more water to waste and pollute.
I read or saw a news clip this spring about some bright individual in Illinois has a contract to supply tons of Asian Carp to China. In China they are selling for top dollar because of the clean waters and good diet they were raised with.
There's gold in them there waters.
Seen the you tube vids , these things just jump in your boat. No fishing gear needed.
Heck yeah, sign me up! I quite enjoy eating more adventurous animals, in fact I go out of my way to order them on every menu I see them on. I go by the Anthony Bourdain rule of "if it's slower than me and stupider than me, pass the salt." From the really excellent braised rabbit at a local Italian place to pigeons in Mexico, if it's not found in my local grocery store I'm totally down to eat it. I don't care about happy ecological effects really, my one plate isn't going to make a huge dent in that, I just enjoy expanding my list of creatures consumed.
"The Hawaii Invasive Species Partnerships has since estimated that the species causes $50 million in damages each year in Puerto Rico and Hawaii alone."
Now ask ANY Hawaiian if the mongoose is a problem compared to a snake-free island and we will tell you, SMALL FRICKIN CHANGE!
sarah-letrent-eatocracy-associate-editor-HACK WRITER! Research your stuff woman, earn your damn pay check!
Speaking of doing your research...
Hopefully the Hawaiian you ask will know some natural history and point out that there are no native terrestrial snakes to Hawaii. The mongoose wasn't introduced to control snakes since there weren't any, but to control rodents, which were also not native.
Speaking of research, isn't her using a statistic doing just that?. And also speaking of research, since you're an authority on the matter Flea, you'll know that mongooses were brought in to control rats. And because mongooses are active mostly during the day and the rat is active mostly at night, they didn't even do what they were supposed to do.
I tol' Jimmy Carter he should send Fidel Castro a cutting from his home state's native plant: kudzu. But he didn't listen to me none. Cuba's still there, when it could'a been sunk out of sight.
Asian carp are delicious. If you can get all the bones out. They are absolutely full of little bones and it is very time consuming to prepare the fish. In the end you don't get very much meat off of them, although they taste quite good.
There is a Chinese restaurant in Seattle that serves a mean asian carp.
Feral cat stew might be good , as well as cat-chow-main. Just keep in mind that there's more than one way to skin one.
Unfortunately my favorite Chinese restaurant in Arlington VA was closed because the health inspector found many skinned cats in the walk-in. Apparently many people living near by had call the animal control looking for their kitties and that got an investigation going.
And yes, I know I ate cat there because the Peking duck came with four legs. And it was delicious.
The Chinese, as a whole, do not eat cats. Cat meat is only eaten in some southern regions and not as a staple. It's illegal to trade in cats for meat, or cat meat in China, and eating cats is considered unacceptable in northern China.
You might not know it but cat meat and dog meat can be found to be consumed in some parts of Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and so on.
Yes it illegal to eat cats in China now because the rat population is out of control in all the major cities. So much so that rat is now served in even China's finest restaurants. There is a National Geographic magazine article that beautifully photographed rats served in street corner shops and posh places.
Anybody got a recipe for English Sparrow?
Bake between 2 husks of coconut, run away.
Also: If it floats, it's a witch.
Garnish with another shrubbery.
Would prefer some Crunchy Frog myself...
The # invasive species on the planet: humans.
I tried that one...It didn't end well!
If I were in a lifeboat with a bunch of other folks wih plenty of water for a couple weeks, I think I might go Bonner party crazy and start seeing the others as fat, juicy succulent hogs ripe for gutting. But I'm sure some of the others would probaby be thinking the same thing. We'd all be looking at each other wondering who among the weakest will croak off first. Then we would all move in to rip apart the freshly dead carcass so everyone get's a nice chunk of meat. I'd probably go for the liver if I couldn't tear me off a nice sirloin cut. The weakest among us can fight over the @ss end. But with full bellies we'd all become sane again and very regretful after having eaten someone's dearly departed. But then the hunger pangs would return. Then it's back to seeing everyone as walking talking cheesburgers until there's only one left. Hopefully me, just in time to be rescued by that passing cruise ship. ;op
I'd love to eat me up some lionfish!
i would like a fur berger instead
Sounds good, hold the furr though
I never had lionfish, but I did have fugu sashimi (poisonous pufferfish) in Japan. That was something else.
Or stupid idiots like yourself! Jack-hole!
Talking to yourself?
"Be like action bastard and put your mouth on a sausage." Yeah no. I'd rather not eat something that's out there eating everything else. Any of you posters in support of this ever eat lion? I guess not.
Hmmm....try market these "invasive" species to the Asians – particularly the Chinese – that they can enhance longevity, increase libido, etc... These "invasive" species will become non-issues before you know it. May be back up the stories with some science, or even psedo-science.
They're trying to cut down their populations, not make them extinct. Oh, and btw, no marketing to the Chinese needed. Just put them out there. Chinese will eat anything that at one time walked, crawled, swam or slithered.
I've heard European Starlings are actually quite tasty.
Consume the world's single most invasive species; eat Soylent Green!
My favorite cracker...
I prefer Soylent Green with a schmear of $160 strawberry jelly, just before checking in to the euthanasia clinic with Edward G. Robinson.
I'd eat a snail.
"Eat a beaver. Save a tree."
Too bad the Carribbeans didn't think of this back in 1492
If it were only this easy. I'd love to get the dirty hippies here in Austin that stupidly feed feral cat colonies to cook them instead. They are, by far, the worst invasive species in this country. The cats, I mean, not the hippies (although they are definitely parasites).
You wouldn't have feral cats if you local bubbas didn't get tired of your pets and kick them out to fend for themselves. At least the hippies give a damn.
Or even just get the animals neutered.
Neutered cats still devastate the environment. And, if by 'give a damn' you mean they make selfish, emotional decisions that have horrible long-term effects because they are too stupid to think things through, then yes.
Bubba have dogs, not cats.
got a recipe for Spanish Moss?
“The biggest problem – is people are hungry, these are good foods,” he says.
The biggest problem is actually, that you'll never get Macdonald's to start serving them, so you'll never get most Americans to eat them. Put them in a multi-colored microwaveable pouch in the freezer aisle, and you may get parents to buy them for their kids but otherwise. You're out of luck in this country.
"Overgeneralizing self-hating American leaves what he thinks is a clever comment."
More to follow........
McLionfish Fillet Sandwich, Iguana McNuggets in Kudzu sauce, Mongoose Burgers. The culinary possibilities are staggering!
I wonder how zebra mussels taste?
Eat Canada geese! I am from Buffalo – these geese are surrounding our airports! Their numbers have grown 10-fold since the last year! And they are yummy! Eat em away, please!
I eat buffaloes
Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI recently killed 400+ Canada geese as their population in the park was out of control ans they were concerned about the geese waste contaminating the pond. Like all the human pollution is helping. They say they donated the goose meat to the local food banks. There is a zoo at the park and they should have also have used some of the meat to feed the carnivores and so save themselves lots of money, and plus it's all part of the natural food chain after all.
Canada Geese: Rats with Wings
I remember when they were endangered and very rare to see. There is such a thing as a program being too successful.
Lets fry that sucka up and serve him with a side of fries
Somebody needs to come up with a way to market the darn flying carp as a delicacy. Getting rid of them is on the agenda of everyone that boats or fishes the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Sure "carp" has bad connotations wish most fish eaters, so come up with some other name. Literally tons of free protein for the taking – any way you want: fish pole (not recommended), net, or shotgun.
Getting rid of carp should be easy. In most Asian cuisines they are considered a delicacy. Boney is the main problem. When my Dad was stationed in Arkansas we'd fish off the nearby levy. Used to pull in lots of carp. Tossed them until we met an old share cropper who lived nearby. He said he'd take them. He had a smoke house and said when smoked properly the bones just dissolved away.
" The only way to be a true vegan without being a total contradiction is to be born and starve to death."
LOL, definitely true. No matter what, we must leave a footprint somewhere.
Along the same line of thinking, the creative gourmet chefs of New York could create a delicacy based on plentiful New York unwelcome rodents, commonly referred to as rats. This would go a long way in helping to minimize or control the population of these unwelcome and sometime troublesome creatures. It probably would taste like chicken to the uninformed.
The Cajuns eat nutria, which is basically a large rodent. It takes a little getting past the idea of eating a big rat, but its not too bad once you try it.
I'm from the north and have killed, cleaned and eaten nutria. Not a fan.
A rat by any other name is still a rat.
During a recent diving trip to Roatan I was able to participate in a competition a local conservation group had planned, where people went spear fishing for lion fish and then at the end of it there was a large barbecue/party with a second competition based on cooking the lion fish to try to introduce locals and such to the idea of the fish actually being an edible tasty fish, which it is when cooked right like many different fish. It was a two pronged effort to try to generate a local based demand for the fish and at the same time remove as many as we could from the ecosystem it was slowly destroying and in the end I do think it worked well I can only hope it continues.
On a long enough timeline, every species is "invasive" (or non-native). It is a meaningless distinction.
Dude I'm so hungry...pass that fish over here...that looked awesome!!
I'm eating top ramen for lunch...ugh!...lol
Just go steal someone else's lunch out of the refrigerator, that's what I do.
What if people in Hawaii start eating Lionfish? It is a native species there. Teaching people to be more exotic about the foods they eat might actually end up hurting the environment more in the long run; they might develop a taste for animals that are presently safe from human consumption. Having said that, if I ever live in the Caribbean I will gorge myself on lionfish. Cooking destroys the venom, by the way.
Pterois volitans are the issue in the Caribbean, and they are from the South Pacific, not Hawaii.
So – lionfish sushi isn't a good idea?
Sure! Just as good as puffer fish! It works best to use the spines as eating utensils.
The venom is only in the spines on certain fins. The flesh is not poisonous, and is often eaten more or less raw in a dish called ceviche. Even the spines aren't an issue unless you happen to have an allergy. Definitely worse than a bee sting, and more persistent, but not unbearable.
Americans are too finicky. An aboundance of food sources (meat and potatos) have restricted culinary advertures.
Lionfish can carry ciguatera toxin. Of 194 fish tested by the FDA from Florida waters, 42% had detectable levels of ciguatoxin and 26% were above the FDA's illness threshold. You don't want to get ciguatera!
Andrew Zimmerman. Ugh!
I want a mongoose to take care of the snakes .
Well, then you'll need something to take care of the rodents. Best thing to do is just not introduce exotics/invasives and nature has it's own way of balancing things out.
I want a honey badger, he don't care.
NO. I refuse to do any animal any harm, even as they destroy the entire ecosystem they live in during the process. No hunting. No weeding. No . No. No.
Eat corn tassles and pinecones only, drink only water.
What about all parasites? Many common parasites are animals. I'd bet that if you had a tapeworm in you you would be all for harming animals.
Veganism is totally illogical. Plants are alive too. By eating plants you are killing life. By drinking water you are killing life as water contains a lot of mirco-organisms. Eating seeds is killing life. The only way to be a true vegan without being a total contradiction is to be born and starve to death.
No. Each breath you take you inhale millions of micro-organisms of which your immune system kills most of.
Well, Jon,...the idea of being Vegan is not the ridiculous task of trying not to consume the living microbes in water and air, nor is it the failure to see seeds and plants as having life too... To understand the desire of Vegans is to understand their hope that they can help diminish the suffering of higher-order "thinking" animals (animals with recognizable brains, brain patterns, and emotions), by ending the current trend of keeping such animals captive and often slaughtered for the express purpose of rendering them into products for consumption...
This simply doesn't apply to your considerations... Vegans know full well that simply existing as a human each day destroys millions and millions of microbial beings, but these forms of life are not what concern them... What concerns them are the creatures we keep on farms and slaughter daily for our hungers, or hunt in the forest with our weapons, or imprison for the sake of their milk or eggs...or flay for their hides...
Damn, you just depressed the hell out of me :(
So vegans are OK with eating clams? They are not what you would consider thinking animals, as they have no recognizable brains.
Or just exist off Twinkies. No living thing has ever been used in the making of those.
Not true. The cream filling is not dairy cream, but suet, which is made from rendered fat of an animal.
How did this become an attack on vegans? Why do you even care what someone else doesn't eat?
It's not eating meat, dairy or eggs, that's it. Why would you think it is a religion that forbids harming anything? It has nothing to do with not using leather products or preventing death to animals. It's about FOOD.
There are some religions that include forms of veganism as a way to prevent harming life, but if anything, I'm not worried about someone who is forbidden to harm others.
People do it for health reasons, since cholesterol, for example, is only found in animal sources. That will prevent most forms of cardiovascular disease such as the common arteriosclerosis that results in myocardial infarctions, and so on.
Vegans are a part of my diet.
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