Editor's note: Jana Waller is host of Sportsman Channel's "Skull Bound TV."
Inside the city limits of San Antonio, mounds of churned up earth are piled knee high as far as the eye can see. Fresh green grass has disappeared and the only evidence of any shrubs is the exposed roots protruding from the carnage. What looks to be the path of a devastating tornado in America's heartland is actually the result of a small group of feral hogs in the Lone Star state.
Texas, along with many of the southern states, is facing a problem of "Hogzilla" proportions. From agricultural fields and farmland to golf courses and playgrounds, no property is off limits to these chubby eating machines. From 2 to 6 million feral hogs are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states. Texas is said to be home to over half of the country's feral hog population.
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor Abigail Greenbaum received her MFA at the University of Mississippi and now teaches English and writing at Berry College in Georgia. Follow her on Twitter @AbigailGreenb.
People from Atlanta call Tommy Haskins several times a week, begging him to sell them feral hog. “It isn’t legal to sell the hogs we hunt,” he tells them. “But you can come down to Twiggs County and shoot one.” In order to sell meat to the general public in Georgia, the animal must arrive alive at an approved processing facility, and be inspected prior to slaughter.
Feral swine eat a low-fat diet. Most are too lean to use for making bacon, even the 160-pound hogs that Haskins and his clients bring down. Folks searching for feral hog are often immigrants from Vietnam, where lean pork is wrapped with banana leaves in a dish called gio lua.
Local food advocates also clamor for field-shot pork. Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, written by the Texas hunter and chef Jesse Griffiths, includes recipes for smothered wild boar chops with anise brine and wild boar rillettes. Haskins doesn’t bother with anise brine. He prefers hickory-smoked hams, basted with apple juice.
On his property southeast of Macon, Haskins rarely goes a day without glimpsing hogs, which he calls “piney woods rooters.” These hogs have mixed pedigrees. Some may have descended from Spanish swine introduced in the 1500s. Others are released or escaped domestic pigs that bred with Eurasian wild boars that were imported for hunting.
(Via WAFB) Americans have been looking for healthier alternatives to red meat for years. Sometime, those alternatives become popular, like bison and ostrich.
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.
“I’m not going to eat the purslane,” my friend Amy announced as we collected our CSA shares. “I grew up weeding that ^%$#.”
My CSA often coughs up veggies and greens you don’t usually see in the supermarket, but until Amy foisted her purslane share on me, I hadn’t realized the haul would include actual weeds.
Amy, who comes from rural Colorado, says she used to spend hours each week as a kid hunting down purslane shoots and fighting their attempts to take over her family’s vegetable patch. The USDA classifies it as “invasive and noxious.” Google its official name, “portulaca oleracea,” and you’ll get a long list of advice on killing it; Google “purslane” and you get tips for cooking it.