There is a relatively new eco-gastronomic movement that has quietly hit the scenes like a superhero, doing good deeds in the night while the rest of humanity slumbers peacefully: invasivore.
It is exactly what it sounds like: devouring, consuming invasive species. The focus is on sourcing invasive species for food, while simultaneously helping the environment. It’s brilliant. The world population has exploded to exponential proportion, food sources are being rapidly depleted, and globalization has introduced foreign species into new ecosystems, wreaking havoc on indigenous species and the natural balance.
Of course, the matter is more complex than simply, “If you can’t beat ‘em, EAT ‘em!” It’s also about helping the ecosystem thrive as peacefully as possible, by removing invasive species without causing more harm to the affected area. For instance, the lionfish invasion is one of the worst environmental disasters to the Atlantic Ocean. These exotic predators are voracious, consuming anything that can fit in their mouths. They have virtually no natural predators and a female can lay up to 200 eggs per year. They have taken haven among delicate coral reefs. The trick is capturing them without damaging the reefs.
Outside magazine’s April 2014 edition features an article (“Waiter, There’s a Lionfish in My Soup”) about Chef Bun Lai, owner of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut. He transitioned his once-traditional sushi menu into one that no longer offers client-favorites like bluefin tuna and scallops. Rather, he sources his own ingredients by diving, scouring, harvesting, and being one of the first pioneers for offering a menu where the culinary stars are invasive species.
This eco-culinary movement adds new depth to traveling, foraging, and culinary adventures! 🙂
Some invasive species include:
- Asian shore crab
- field mustard
- garlic mustard
- lamb’s quarters (don’t worry, it’s not a cute animal’s legs)
- Louisiana crayfish
- wild fennel
- Miya’s Sushi: Chef Bun Lai’s Invasive Species Menu
- Eat the Invaders: Fighting Invasive Species, One Bite at a Time
- Invasivore.Org: Eat Invasive Species
- Wildly Delicious: 10 Invasive Species You Should be Eating for Dinner
- 4 Invasive Species that Taste Great
- 6 Edible Invasive Species Recipes
- Virginia Living: The Invasivore’s Cookbook