Wild boar, Burmese pythons, common carp, lionfish—rather than defend these species, environmentalists are encouraging the American public to eat them. As many of them as possible.
A new website, www.eattheinvaders.org, asks the public to help in a campaign to protect endangered species and wildlife by eating their invasive predators and competitors. Invasive species—most often brought to our shores by people—thrive in the absence of their natural predators and competitors, and can devastate native ecosystems.
While it is a serious topic, the website takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the problem: “You don’t have to leave home to eat your way around the world,” the site explains. “There are snails from France, greens from England, fish from Africa, rosehips from Asia and aquatic mammals from South America, just outside your door. You can eat these invaders raw, eat them boiled, eat them with butter and garlic or au gratin. This spring, instead of dressing your lawn with herbicides, consider balsamic vinaigrette.”
The site’s editor in chief is Joe Roman, whose book Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act chronicles efforts around the country to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction.
The site lists dozens of invasive species living in North America. There is also a timeline that dates back to the 1500s, which explains, for example, that feral pigs arrived in Florida with Spanish explorers and that dandelions came from England with either the Pilgrims or the Jamestown settlers.
By the 1980s, Asian carp had been imported into the southern United States to eat the aquatic plants in aquaculture facilities. It escaped into the Mississippi and is currently swimming north, leaving destruction in its wake. Nowadays, there are Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades and Japanese kudzu has been referred to as “the vine that ate the South.”
The site invites readers to submit their own recipes. Some of these are strictly for the adventurous palate. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife, for example, submitted a recipe for river rat that includes the saddle portions of the animal, cooked slowly with vegetables, salt, pepper, and garlic. Go heavy on the seasoning, and try not to think too hard about what you’re eating.