A Menu of Invasive Species

January 23, 2020

Across America, feral pigs are on the rampage, wrecking fields of crops, hunting local wildlife to extinction, and even attacking humans. In the United Kingdom, Japanese knotweed is taking over the landscape: Banks deny mortgages to infested properties, and the government regulates its disposal with the same precautions it takes for low-level nuclear waste. Humans are to blame—we introduced invasive species such as these to their new homes. But some conservation biologists and chefs think that humans can also be the solution: by eating the invaders.

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    Land

    Wild_boar

    Wild Pig

    Did the domestic ancestors of today’s feral pigs streak off De Soto’s ship into the Florida scrub of their own accord in 1539? Or did they have to be urged to go find something to eat? All you need to…


      EAT ME!
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      Garden Snail

      Deliberately or accidentally, by the movement of plants and by hobbyists who collect snails, humans have spread the garden snail to temperate and subtropical zones around the world.


        EAT ME!
        GarlicMustard1

        Garlic Mustard

          Alliaria petiolata Native range: Europe, Asia, Northwest Africa Invasive range: Much of the Lower 48, Alaska, and Canada. (See map.) Habitat: Moist, shaded soil of floodplains, forests, roadsides, edges of woods, and forest openings. Often dominant in disturbed areas. Description: Biennial herb. First-year plant has a rosette of green leaves close to the ground. [...]


          EAT ME!
          nopales con huevo

          Prickly Pear

          Fall is here, and the “cactus fig” is in season. Time to plate-up another widespread invader.


            EAT ME!
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            Sow Thistle

            It’s spring and time to weed. Sow thistle is a delicious invader found throughout the continent.


              EAT ME!

              Sea

              Hemigrapsus_sanguineus_big

              Asian Shore Crab

              The first sighting of the Asian shore crab in the United States was at Townsend Inlet, Cape May County, New Jersey, in 1988. Though the source is unknown . . .


                EAT ME!
                Periwinkles

                Periwinkle

                The common periwinkle, which first appeared in New England in the 1860s, is now found along the coast wherever there’s hard substrate–rocks, riprap, broken concrete, or docks–from Labrador to . . .


                  EAT ME!
                  Pterois volitans

                  Lionfish

                  Some say it started in 1992 in Miami when Hurricane Andrew smashed an aquarium tank. Don’t blame the weather, others say; in the mid-nineties, disappointed yet softhearted hobbyists…


                    EAT ME!
                    chuka wakame

                    Wakame

                      Undaria pinnatifida Native range: Japan Sea Invasive range: Southern California, San Francisco Bay, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Argentina Habitat: Opportunistic seaweed, can be found on hard substrates including rocky reefs, pylons, buoys, boat hulls, and abalone and bivalve shells. Description: Golden brown seaweed, growing up to nine feet. Forms thick canopy. Reproductive sporophyll in [...]


                      EAT ME!
                      Kleiner_Taschenkrebs_(Carcinus_maenas)

                      Green Crab

                      Since the green crab was first recorded off southern Massachusetts in 1817, it has been hard to ignore. A few minutes of rock-flipping in Maine can turn up dozens of them, brandishing their claws as they retreat…


                        EAT ME!

                        Fresh

                        Armored Catfish Meatballs (1)

                        Armored Catfish

                        The armored catfish is abundant and destructive in Florida, Texas, and Mexico. Cast your nets for these flavorful natives of the Amazon. Scientific name: Two types have become established in North America: armadillo del rio, Hypostomus plecostomus, and sailfin catfishes in genus Pterygoplichthys Native range: Amazon River Basin Invasive range: Texas, Florida, and Hawaii; also [...]


                          EAT ME!
                          Picture 1

                          Common Carp

                          For a bottom-feeder, what is the good life? The common carp isn’t very demanding: any body of water that’s sluggish and murky will do. If the water is clean, and you’ve got corn for bait, try one of these recipes.


                            EAT ME!
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                            Watercress

                              Nasturtium officianale Native Range: Northern Africa, Europe, temperate Asia, and India Invasive Range: In USA: all lower 48 states, except North Dakota. Found in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Also southern Canada, Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Australasia, and parts of tropical Asia. Habitat: Common along stream margins, ditches, and other areas with [...]


                              EAT ME!
                              rusty_crayfish-large

                              Crayfish

                                There are numerous invasive crayfish. We include details for the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and the rusty crayfish (Orenectes rusticus). The same recipes can be used for both species–and many other invasive crayfish. Red Swamp Crayfish Native range: Known as Louisiana crayfish, crawdad, and mudbug, Procambarus clarkii is native to the south central [...]


                                EAT ME!
                                nutria-mugshot

                                Nutria

                                Nutria, also known as coypu and river rat, is native to temperate and subtropical South America. It has been introduced to Europe, Asia, and Africa, mainly for fur farming. These voracious. . .


                                  EAT ME!

                                  Field Notes

                                  Screen Shot 2020-10-18 at 9.08.24 AM

                                  Murder Hornet Eludes Washington State Scientists

                                  Researchers in Washington State have lost track of an Asian giant hornet they were following — a stinging setback in the pursuit to eradicate an invasive species that threatens to decimate North American bee populations. Listen on NPR and read about hornet cuisine in Japan.


                                    EAT ME!
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                                    When Invasive Species Become the Meal

                                    Invasivore campaigns are part of a broader movement to reduce, if not eradicate, invasive species. Educational websites such as Eat the Invaders, founded in 2011 by Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont, and slogans like “If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em” frame what might otherwise be merely an epicurean decision [...]


                                      EAT ME!
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                                      Can Harvest Programs Reduce Bighead Carp?

                                      A new study looks at the impact of invasivorism on bigheaded carp on the Illinois River. With enough market demand, it just might work. But we might need to ditch the “carp.” Bighead. It’s what’s for dinner. Read the study here.


                                        EAT ME!
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                                        Invasive Species Become a Hot Commodity

                                        By developing architectural uses for nonnative species and timber thinnings—specimens that are strategically removed as part of forest management—architects are hoping to wean the building industry off carbon-intensive materials, such as concrete, steel, and aluminum, while creating mutually beneficial supply chains. Read more here.


                                          EAT ME!
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                                          A Menu of Invasive Species

                                          Across America, feral pigs are on the rampage, wrecking fields of crops, hunting local wildlife to extinction, and even attacking humans. In the United Kingdom, Japanese knotweed is taking over the landscape: Banks deny mortgages to infested properties, and the government regulates its disposal with the same precautions it takes for low-level nuclear waste. Humans [...]


                                            EAT ME!

                                            I feed him herbs, flowers, more kales and then I stuff him full of weeds. He declares sow thistles as good as radicchio and does some free weeding.

                                            Gardener Alys Fowler on a visit by London chef Yotam Ottolenghi

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