Eat invasive species and enjoy guilt-free meat


For some values of guilt-free, anyway: I ate practically nothing but lionfish when we went diving in the Caribbean, and every delicious forkful helped save the reef from a destructive, invasive species.

So dine on California wild boar ("dark and lean, packing a more intense flavor than cured ham"); New York dogfish ("a bit like scallops but less chewy"); Tambaqui Fish Ribs ("resemble baby-back ribs but are more tender"); Atlantic red snapper and Puerto Rican iguana kebabs. They're the species it's OK to wish extinction upon (at least in specific regions).

You’ve heard of the locavore, but what about the invasivore? Whether it’s lionfish, which are ruining reefs in Mexico, or wild boar, tearing up California valleys, invasive species are the latest offering on menus around the world. After being accidentally introduced to local habitats, where most of them don’t have natural predators, these organisms multiply—often at a rapid pace—causing environmental stress, infrastructure harm, and even health problems. Pioneering chefs are taking sustainability one step further by working with foragers, fishermen, and hunters as a form of edible conservation. “I was looking to utilize ingredients that may not be mainstream,” says Taylor Naples of Craft New York. “Then I realized these items had great flavor.” Here’s a global guide to some of the animals, fish, and plants you might order next.


The Delicious, Invasive Species You'll Be Eating Next [Maridel Reyes/Businessweek]


(Image: Red lionfish, Paula Whitfield/NOAA, public domain)

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