Most people know that carnivores eat meat, herbivores eat plans, and omnivores eat both. But do you know what an invasivore eats?
An invasivore is someone who’s taking part in a new trend — eating invasive species. Invasivore may not be in the dictionary yet, but I hope it makes it there soon.
An invasive species is a non-native plant or animal that gets introduced into an area and begins to reproduce rapidly. Invasive species aren't a problem just because they've been relocated; they are a problem because they begin to dominate other species. Invasive species will often eat native plants and animals, which can lead to extinction. When invasive species reproduce quickly, they overrun the native population.
Some invasive species found in Kentucky are freshwater jellyfish, water fleas, grass carp, common carp, silver carp, Asian clam, spearmint, watermint, kudzu and water-cress. Obviously, not all of these species can or should be eaten — I'm pretty sure fleas don't taste very good. But if we can't control the spread and reproduction of invasive species by other means, why not eat them if they are obnoxious and nutritious?
Kudzu is an invasive species in Kentucky that is native to China. It was first introduced as a ground cover, but quickly became out-of-control and has even been known to pull down telephone poles.
If not kept under control, kudzu will climb and take over surrounding areas. People wanting to get rid of the kudzu could use herbicide to kill it or cut down the kudzu to get rid of it. Herbicides could take a while to work though, and if you cut it down what will you do with it?
You could compost it. Or you could become an invasivore: Just sauté the shoots with some onions and mushrooms and dig in. Kudzu is related to the pea family and has a similar taste.
Not only can you eat the shoots, but you can also steam the leaves and turn the blossoms into jelly. I've not personally tried this yet, but I'm ready to get my hands on some kudzu so I can.
In Chicago, cooks make all sorts of dishes out of invasive carp. Though if you are wanting to cook your own invasive carp make sure you know the body of water it's coming out of is sanitary and after you have caught one it's important to know how to clean it and cook it properly.
So the next time you get mad at a plant or animal for taking over your yard, crops, or home, you might just be able to have it for a meal. however, it's very important to do your research and make sure you know what you are eating before you eat it. For example, if you're going to try cooking with kudzu, make sure it's kudzu you are chopping and not poison ivy.
Online: Learn more and find invasivore recipes at www.invasivore.org.
Amanda's Animal Fact of the Week
While no two giraffes have exactly the same pattern on their skins, giraffes from the same geographic area will have similar patterns.