If You Can’t Beat It, Eat It

Asian carp: Invasive, yes, but are they delicious?
Asian carp: Invasive, yes, but are they delicious? Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

That’s the mantra of the “invasivores,” people who are committed to the cause of eating invasive species. (They’re kind of the opposite of “bestovores“.) They got some ink in the New York Times last month, but now the movement is quickly gaining momentum as Asian carp threaten the Great Lakes and Lionfish, tropical fish with toxin-tipped spines, take over Florida! But even though it feels good to know that there are other humans out there reasserting our rightful place atop the food chain — screw you, invasive fish! — it turns out this isn’t exactly a perfect philosophy.

Because! What if we actually like these fish? Duane Chapman, a fish biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (and, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, “one of the nation’s top Asian carp experts”), says that’d be a problem, since it would mean some business-minded fishermen would inevitably think it’s a good idea to cultivate these fish. So there’d actually end up being more of them, not fewer: “It only takes one guy to move the fish to a new place because he likes it … A fisherman with a bait bucket intentionally stocking them in a reservoir would be a very bad thing,” he told the Journal Sentinel.

But, eh, that’s not stopping Milwaukee chef Jimmy Wade from hosting an all-Asian-carp “invasivore” dinner at his Heaven City Restaurant (carp cakes and smoked carp steaks will be on the menu). And it didn’t stop the Illinois state government from creating a $2 million program last summer that they say will boost commercial carp fishing in the Illinois River. But the plan is to send those carp to China — so let’s hope these things aren’t too tasty, or we’ll just end up being a remorseful, carp-less country.

The Culinary Solution [Chicago Reader]
Let them eat carp [MJS]
Earlier: Asian Carp Will Be Sent to Asia

If You Can’t Beat It, Eat It