Kudzu was introduced from Japan into the United
States at the Japanese pavilion in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in
Philadelphia. It is a prototypical invasive species, adapting so well to its
new environment that today grows throughout most of the southeastern United
States. A deadly invader, it kills or damages other plants by smothering them
under a blanket of leaves. It can completely encompass tree trunks or even
uproot an entire tree. So why not eat it?
Though it lends itself to pithy headlines,
the idea of eating invasive species is somewhat complex and not necessarily the
"easy" solution to the problem that it can appear to be on the surface. Eating
invasive species made news as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee
celebrations when the Queen was presented with a lamprey pie from the city of
Gloucester. These traditional pies are made from a parasitic eel that was once
plentiful in Gloucester, but is now so scarce that the lamprey for the Queen's
dish had to be imported from the Great Lakes, where they are pervasive and
The links below are not definitive or particularly comprehensive.
They are intended to spark reflection or perhaps a conversation about a topic
that has the potential to be a promising tool in promoting sustainable living.
5 Invasive Plants You Can Eat
Invasive plants are those that have the ability to thrive and
spread aggressively outside of their natural range. This article focuses on 5 invasive
edible plants (including kudzu) and includes recipes.
How to control invasives? Put a fork in them!
This article from NOAA Fisheries promotes the use of invasive
species as food. It focuses on efforts of two men from the Baltimore/Washington
DC area who are leading a grassroots movement to control the spread of northern
snakehead, an invasive aquatic species that threatens the future of an
ecosystem they know and love.the Chesapeake.
Answer for Invasive Species: Put It on a Plate and Eat It
This New York Times feature hones in on the promise (and possible
pitfalls) of marketing invasive species as seafood. This article focuses on the
lionfish, an exotic, non-native predator that is devastating reef fish
populations along the Florida coast and into the Caribbean.
Eating Invasive Species to Stop Them?
From the Smithsonian Food and Think blog, this is a very balanced
look at the concept of eating invasives, warning that edible eradication
strategies could backfire and might even lead to a spread of the targeted
Eat the Invaders
This Is a website devoted to eating invasive species. It includes
a "Blue Place Special" feature with recipes for common invaders.
Invasive Species Information Center (NSIC)
This website serves as a Gateway to invasive species information;
covering federal, state, local, and international sources. It includes the
latest research news and educational resources.
Image credit: National Park Service
17 Aug 2012 1:30 PM