The risks need to be recognized. So, too, do the benefits.
Intensive invasive species control poses risks of its own. With its war metaphors and scorched earth campaigns, invasives eradication often requires hefty doses of toxic chemicals. And just as often, weeds or invasive animals still flourish. Aside from cases on small islands such as Santa Cruz, complete eradication is usually impossible.
Recognizing dandelions as a food source will not eradicate the plant. But spraying dandelions doesn’t, either.
In many ways, eating invasives is not a control measure so much as it is a new way of interacting with non-native species. Through eating them, they become part of our environment rather than “enemies.” And because they’re prolific and abundant, they make ideal sustainable, low-carbon, local food sources.
Despite our best efforts, invasive species already thrive in our midst. Is serving them for dinner really going to make them even more prevalent?
Doubtful. These species are here to stay. It’s time to recognize them as a truly sustainable and abundant food source. I’ll take the fried iguana served over a bed of dandelion greens, please.
Matt Miller is a senior science writer for The Nature Conservancy. He writes features and blogs about the conservation research being conducted by the Conservancy’s 550 scientists. Matt previously worked for nearly 11 years as director of communications for the Conservancy’s Idaho program. He serves on the national board of directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. An avid naturalist and outdoorsman, Matt has traveled the world in search of wildlife and stories.
[Image: Iguanas, an invasive species in places like Florida, are becoming a menu item for local foodies. Image source: Matt Miller/TNC]