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The Green Life: Food and Water Watch: Eat Your Invasives!

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July 22, 2011

Food and Water Watch: Eat Your Invasives!

Carp Food and Water Watch’s Smart Seafood Guidelines have long helped fish fans steer clear of unsustainable and unhealthy seafood with their "Dirty Dozen" list. This summer’s guide, however, tells us to go ahead and feast . . . on invasive species.

With high reproductive rates and no natural predators, invasive species often outcompete native ones, reducing diversity, lowering habitat value, and sometimes speeding extinction rates. From the voracious Asian carp overtaking America’s Great Lakes to the poisonous lionfish in the warm waters off Florida's coast, scientists are working to stave off the onslaught. And with globalization, the factors contributing to the spread of invasives are only increasing.

So these new seafood guidelines tell us that the best thing we can do to help is fire up the grill. In their recently released 2011 guide, FWW suggests frying up some Asian carp or lionfish, roasting a European green crab, or grilling a rustry crawfish. “Having farmed salmon for dinner isn’t going to help save a local ecosystem,” Wenonah Hauter, the group's executive director, said in a statement. “Now Asian carp or lionfish, that’s a different story.”

While these animals are not too often put on plates, FWW hopes that restaurants and families will catch on, eat up, and help keep the creatures' booming populations in check. To start the trend, Food and Water Watch teamed up with the James Beard Foundation at the Seafood Guide's release party to showcase delicious (and safe) ways of cooking your local invaders. You can find the complete guide online; it allows you to search by taste preference and region. To stay informed during shopping trips or dinners out, print a smaller version.

If only we could always eat our problems! We're still waiting for a cookbook that includes "Oil Spill and Vinegar Salad Dressing" or "Pine Beetle and C02 Souffle."

--Christa Morris

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