Have you ever tried eating Asian carp? Probably not! But have you ever asked yourself WHY? For those of you with young kids, you might be familiar with a book series by Lauren Child that stars brother and sister Charlie and Lola. The book I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato was one of my children’s favorites when they were little. I must admit, it is pretty high on my list of awesome kid’s books as well!
The entire book is all about the things that Lola WON’T eat…until carrots become orange twiglets from Jupiter and mashed potatoes, are now “cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji”. Suddenly, the things Lola had previously turned her nose up at become delicacies to be enjoyed with great relish! I recently came across a story on NPR about the Asian Carp invasion that reminded me of this amusing little children’s book.
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Why Aren’t We Eating Asian Carp?
What is the Asian Carp?
Have you ever heard of the Asian Carp? They are an invasive species of fish originally brought to the US from China in the 1970’s to clean retention ponds. When the ponds flooded, they escaped into nearby rivers and have been making their way upstream to the Great Lakes ever since.
They weigh up to 100 pounds and eat 40 percent of their body weight each day. They are crowding out native species and their sheer size and number make boating in certain areas of the rivers dangerous. Especially since certain species like to leap out of the water when startled by boat motors. Ever get hit by a 100 pound fish? OUCH!
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More Food for Thought
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How to Control the Asian Carp Population
Well, Illinois has come up with a proposal to help control the Asian carp population AND feed the hungry at the same time! Send fisherman out after these fishy giants and serve them up as dinner to the homeless or underfed. Right now, removal efforts are ongoing but the fish are just destined for landfills…WHY throw the fish into a landfill when it is perfectly edible and there is a huge population of hungry people to feed?
Apparently, local officials have Louisiana chef Philippe Parola on hand to create some culinary masterpieces so that people can have a little taste test and see for themselves. This species is decimating the populations of native fish in the rivers leading towards the Great Lakes and millions of dollars are being spent to control their spread. Eating Asian Carp seems like a logical solution, right? Can we turn this invasive fish into a sustainable seafood choice?
Can you Eat Asian Carp?
It isn’t like people have never tried eating Asian Carp before. People in China eat it quite regularly. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has suggested giving the Asian carp a new name and is pushing the term “silverfin” in hopes that people stop wrinkling their noses at it. Sound familiar? (hmmm, see the Charlie and Lola reference at the top of the page!) When unemployed and underemployed people at an Illinois food bank were asked whether they would eat it the answers ranged from ‘uuhhh…..maybe’ to ‘No way!’
Invasive Species and Food Insecurity
Think about this: A study by the United States Department of Agriculture that came out this month shows that almost 15% of American households suffered from ‘food insecurity’ at some point last year. That means that in 15% of households, somebody went to bed hungry. A child went to school hungry. Or a mother had to tell her kids that there was nothing for lunch that day. But many of these same people were the ones that stated NO, they would not try eating Asian Carp. Not because it is poisonous or tastes bad. But simply because it wasn’t on the mental list of acceptable foods to eat.
I am just as guilty of this as the next person. I have heard that in some countries people eat horses and dogs. However, I honestly would starve to death before I ate my pup! Our food preferences are ingrained at a very young age and are subject to the whims of society.
Have you eaten anything that others would consider ‘unacceptable’? I have had alligator but that isn’t considered weird down in the Gulf area where we lived for many years. I tried escargot but there is just something about the ick factor of eating a snail that I couldn’t get over! What’s the weirdest thing you have eaten?
Would you be more open to eating outside the norm if you were truly starving for food?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.