Florida diners gobble pesky invasive species
FORT MYERS, Fla. — They're destroying our reefs, uprooting native plants, strangling our birds, choking our waterways and sucking the stucco right off our homes.
Florida's invasive species — lionfish, feral hogs, Burmese pythons, water hyacinth, giant African land snails — have caused a slew of troubles.
One possible solution seems simple enough: Let's eat 'em!
In Fort Myers, you can find python fillets on pizza and wild boar on spaghetti. In Miami, they're frying whole lionfish and serving it with mango salsa.
It's only a matter of time before our hunger for the exotic gets the best of these exotics — right?
“It's not quite that easy.”
That naysayer is Paul Skelley, a collection manager and entomologist with the Florida Department of Agriculture.
“Could we eat them to extinction? It's unlikely,” Skelley said. “The problem is humans. Once we decide we like the taste of something, we want to keep it.”
Another problem is agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture. Their inspectors frown on the unregulated sale of wild game and foraged plants to the public. There are safety and quality standards to be met, and processors who must be held accountable.
Very few of the exotic proteins seen on menus are harvested locally.
“It's a liability issue I don't want to have,” said Sal Basile, owner of Two Meatballs in the Kitchen in Fort Myers, which serves a wild boar ragu as an occasional special. “When it has worms in it, then what happens? It doesn't pay for me to take that chance.”
Basile orders his wild boar from Cheney Brothers, a Florida-based food distributor. Cheney Brothers gets it from Texas, where the animals roam on ranches.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- Obama: U.S. embassy in Havana marks ‘new chapter’ in Cuba ties
- GOP observers take notice as Trump hires seasoned operative
- FDA review of OxyContin abuse-deterrent version put on hold by maker
- Ten Commandments monument orderered removed from Oklahoma Capitol grounds
- White House intruders beware: Spikes planned
- Official: Fire at South Carolina black church wasn’t arson
- Supreme Court to take up mandated dues for public employees unions in next term
- Charter lapses for Export-Import Bank; conservatives vow to block revival in House
- Emails from Clinton’s first year as secretary of State out
- Advocate pushes IRS on nonprofits’ tax forms
- House bill protects nonprofits’ ‘dark money’ in elections