The Most Unexpected Way to Eat Eco-Friendly
If you jump at the chance to try the next foodie trend like charcoal coffee, or you believe that what we serve on the table affects the environment, then the invasivorism diet is for you. Think of invasivorism as a hyperlocal sustainability effort where you consume invasive species of both plants and animals. Basically it’s the new form of clean eating. Invasive species lurk all throughout America. Some you wouldn’t even guess are non-native since they’ve become so common on our soil, like dandelions for instance, which happen to be an invasive plant. The problem with this is that now many plants and animals are so at home in America that it's nearly impossible to control the population. Conservationists have come up with a plan to help rebalance our ecosystem one bite at a time. Naturally, not every invasive species is edible, but those that are can be delicious. Here are some of the tastiest for you to try out.
Asian Tiger Shrimp: Shrimp lovers, rejoice! There's now more reason than ever to consume these crustaceans. Asian tiger shrimp are lobster-sized and keen on eating their smaller cousins up and down the coasts of the United States. Unsurprisingly, they taste just like shrimp, but there's a lot more flesh, which makes them ideal for imitation lobster rolls if you’re feeling like a fancy dinner. (via Lady & Pups)
Watercress: If you’ve spent some time in the United Kingdom, you’ve probably noticed that watercress shows up in everything there. Despite its abundance across the pond, watercress never seems to get any love in the US. This lovely, peppery aquatic plant grows unchecked near cold streams and is perfectly safe to be tossed into any dish. Just be aware that the more mature a plant is, the more intense the taste will be. Therefore, if you want to try it in a watercress salad, check for new growth and opt to take the softer, younger leaves rather than the larger, more peppery ones. (via Feasting at Home)
Himalayan Blackberries: It's hard to tell Himalayan blackberries and the domesticated American ones apart. The main difference is that one comes in a box and the other has to be foraged in the Pacific Northwest. While you're on your next hike, pluck tons of berries off the vine. It’s fun to do, good for the environment, and delectable when you bake them into your favorite treats. (via Chocolate With Grace)
Fennel: A native of the Mediterranean region, fennel is seen in many Italian, Greek, and Spanish dishes. It's particularly tasty grilled with just a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. This anise-flavored invader is also great as an herb to add to pasta dishes, stuff into grilled meat, or blend into a soup. Whatever you do, just don’t let this feathery plant invade your yard and reach its full nine-foot height. (via SkinnyTaste)
Purslane: Although native to Eurasia, purslane has been enjoyed by Americans since the Revolution, and there are records of both George Washington and Henry David Thoreau eating it regularly. In fact, this lemony, peppery herb was enjoyed widely up until about a generation ago. Somehow, between our grandparent’s generation and ours, this weed earned the USDA’s highest ranking of contempt: "noxious." Don’t be fooled though, there's nothing poisonous about purslane and it’s time to bring this little succulent back into the kitchen. You can start by adding it to salads for some extra zing. (via Nirvana Cakery)
Dandelion: For anyone who spends time in the garden, this weed is public enemy number one. For the rest of us, this plant is so common that it may not even occur to us that it isn’t originally from North America. Hailing from Europe, this flower is delicious in everything from jelly to wine. It even makes a pretty decoration in salads. Plus you’ll be aiding the environment each time you pluck one of these flowers. (via Amazingly Tasty)
Asian Carp: Most of us know Asian carp as koi which live in ponds. However, over the years, flooding has lifted them out of their captive environments and introduced them into the wilds of the Mississippi River where they've done more harm than good. Though they're not predators, these massive fish (they can reach 100 pounds) can eat environmentally destabilizing quantities of plankton and push out native fish. Thankfully, this disruptive species is scrumptious. With their light, white meat they make a great alternative to pricier flaky, white fish. And they're study enough to hold up to being stone-baked before smothered in a caramelized Chinese glaze. (via The Woks of Life)
Wild Boar: In much of the southern United States, wild boars roam freely and are considered pests. Good thing they happen to be tasty pests — if you’ve never tried wild boar on a barbecue, you really should. These furry beasts are the descendants of European pigs that have interbred for centuries and become a more robustly flavored version of pork. A good way to introduce this meat into your cooking is to make a hearty ragu. (via The Gourmet Gourmand)
Lionfish: Lionfish, found in Caribbean coral reefs, are voracious eaters that wreak havoc on the endangered ecosystems. But now they've begun to make a regular appearance at restaurants all over the Caribbean. With a taste that's somewhere between lobster and Chilean sea bass, it’s little wonder that lionfish have gained such popularity. If you won’t be in the Caribbean any time soon, you can still enjoy lionfish sushi-style in your own home. (via Riviera Maya Living)
Do you have any favorite ways to eat invasive species? Tell us about it @BritandCo.