Saving the ecosystem, one bite at a time

Destructive invasive species serve as the ingredients in the ethical meals of an invasivore

Photo: Timo Sack / Wikimedia Commons The nutria is an attractive meal for invasivores, even if the animal isn’t very attractive.

Photo: Timo Sack / Wikimedia Commons
The nutria is an attractive meal for invasivores, even if the animal isn’t very attractive.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

What’s invasivorism, you ask? Well, this new trend among environmentally-friendly foodies aims to depopulate invasive species all while serving up a tasty meal.

We all know that humans are capable of eating certain species to endangerment. Invasivores ask why we devour native creatures while overpopulations of invasive species are destroying the ecosystem. Why not protect the natural environment and combat the intruders with this guilt-free diet instead? As Eattheinvaders.org explains, “for every invader consumed—from knotweed to feral pigs to periwinkles—that’s one more native left in the wild, one less cage in the factory farm.”

Invasive species are nonnative species introduced to an area that have a negative effect on the local ecosystem. By taking resources away from the native species, the invasives limit natural biodiversity. According to Guardian Liberty Voice, there are approximately 7,000 non-native species in the U.S., a thousand of which are overpopulated and dangerous.

The invasivore diet is primarily intended to spread awareness of the harm caused by invasive species. “Eating your enemies feels really good. But the real goal is to help people understand invasive species a little better and bring attention to their impacts,” comments Andrew Deines, editor at Invasivore.org, one of the leading sources on invasivorism.

Unlike most diets, the staples of the invasivore diet vary depending on your location.

Stretching along the Atlantic Coast from Texas to New York, the target is lionfish. According to Graham Maddocks, founder and president of Ocean Support Foundation, “the lionfish invasion is probably the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic will ever face.” Understandably then, East Coast invasivores are committed to chowing down on the lionfish population. Luckily for them, lionfish is actually pretty tasty—but be careful of the venomous spikes!

In the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, the creature to blame is the Asian Carp. In order to promote this rapidly-growing invasive as a culinary delight, many have begun to market the fish as “Kentucky tuna.”

If you’re more interested in hunting your dinner than fishing it, invasivores suggest you target the feral hog, which costs the U.S. up to one billion dollars in agricultural damage each year, according to Modern Farmer.

The invasive nutria overpopulation in the south hasn’t experienced quite the same culinary excitement, however. Which is understandable if you’ve ever seen the 12-pound rodent with a rat-like tail and orange teeth: it’s not exactly appealing to the senses. Invasivores aren’t giving up yet though, searching for creative recipes that will encourage consumption of the rodent. But nutria meat isn’t sold in stores—you’ll have to hunt your own.

Of course, not all invasive species are main-course ingredients. Dandelions or field mustard can serve as the perfect side dish for an invasivore.

Whichever ingredient you’re attempting to eradicate, you’re sure to find a recipe on Invasivore.org or Eattheinvaders.org—both excellent resources for those interested in joining the invasivore movement.

Eating Aliens: One Man’s Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species by hunter Jackson Landers is also a great source for invasivores. Landers shares his journey as he hunted 12 invasive species and served them into delicious meals in Eating Aliens. Iguanas, armadillos, lionfish, crabs, nutria, and snakeheads are just a few of the species that made it onto his plate.

“The beautiful thing about hunting, especially invasive species, is it’s a way of dropping out of the mainstream meat paradigm, where so many of the ethical and health problems associated with eating meat arise,” comments Landers on the ethics on invasivorism.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the principles. The main concern with invasivorism is the over-marketing of a target species. If the intruder begins to be a profitable item, will others try to market the species, encouraging spread and reproduction? Invasivores hope that anyone involved in the lifestyle will act responsibly and ethically, but there are no guarantees.

The invasivore movement still lacks widespread global support, but recent media coverage has helped to spread awareness of the concept.

If you’re ready to gather your hunting gear and catch some intruders for dinner, visit Invasivore.org and search for the invasive species in your region.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 17, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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