Are you a friend of the planet? Do you do your bit to protect native species? Are you tired of hearing about takeovers by invasive species?
Put some balance back into the ecosystem. Eat the invaders! Here’s how.
First, you need to identify why these foreign species are invasive. After that, you can begin to identify which of them are invasive and, importantly, if they are edible. Then, you need a few strategies for preparing them for the table.
Invasive plants are non-native species that thrive in areas outside their natural dispersal range. Extremely vigorous and virtually enemy-free, they are typically highly adaptable, aggressive, and reproductive. These non-native species destroy wildlife habitats, displace local species (including threatened and endangered species), reduce plant and animal diversity, and disrupt some migratory bird flight patterns and nesting habitats (Breyer, 2012).
Among those plants that have been identified as having destructive qualities, yet which are also edible, are purslane, Japanese knotweed, dandelions, kudzu, and curly dock. Recipes for the preparation of these and other invaders can be found below.
Plants are not the only invasive item on the menu, however. Eco-foodies like Wall (2012) suggest trying the nutria, feral hog, or Burmese python, but warn that pythons may have a high mercury level, while feral swine may be riddled with diseases such as brucellosis.
It should be stated that not all are optimistic about the consumption of invasive species. Dissenters note that in addition to potential exposure to diseases or toxic substances, the eating of invasive species could create a market for them and lead to a dependence on the continued presence of the invader.