Texas Monthly proposes a way to deal with those bothersome invasive species.
Keep your invasive species sweet; you may have to eat them. Late last week StateImpact Texasput together a list of the “Top Ten Invasive Species in Texas.” But what’s the best way to trim back their numbers? Helping eliminate invasives by eating them is an idea that has received a fair amount of press in the past year. “Humans are the most ubiquitous predators on earth,” the Nature Conservancy’s Philip Kramer told Elisabeth Rosenthal of the the New York Times. “Instead of eating something like shark fin soup, why not eat a species that is causing harm, and with your meal make a positive contribution?”
Maybe a large part of the problem is branding. “While most invasive species are not commonly regarded as edible food, that is mostly a matter of marketing, experts say,” Rosenthal wrote. Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch, was of that mind: “What these species need now is a better — sexier — profile, and more cooks who know how to use them,” she said.
“The whole outdoors is like a grocery store, if you know where to look,” Cecilia Nasti, the host of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s weekly radio series, “Passport to Texas” and KUT’s “Field and Feast,” told the TM Daily Post. When internal emails circulate through TPWD about the latest invasive species, Nasti said her first question is always ‘Is this something we can eat?’”
In that spirit, we’ve drawn up together our own subjective list, ranking five of Texas’s species by deliciousness and collecting recipes to help you prepare each.
Some of these critters, like the giant tiger shrimp, you may have already seen on your menu. Some, like the feral hog, a/k/a “wild boar”, don’t have a branding problem so much as they have a supply chain problem. There’s so dang many of them that mere hunting and trapping strategies are woefully inadequate. We allow people to shoot these things from helicopters with machine guns in order to try and control their population, for crying out loud. If there were an efficient way to harvest and butcher them, believe me it would be done. Anyway, there’s merit to what they suggest, though good luck to whoever has to come up with an appetizing name for nutria. I just figure that if someone could have come up with a way to make money off of this, they’d have done it by now.