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
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘12 Days of Christmas’ items top $34K, up 0.6 percent
- Pot doctors in medical marijuana states push boundaries with marketing
- Upstate New York town threatened by Arizona man in online post, reports say
- New Navy destroyer Zumwalt’s seaworthiness questioned before sea trials
- Iraq War veteran, mother of 2 slain in Colorado clinic rampage
- Hunt on for mother of baby buried alive in California
- Storm lingers in southern Plains
- Email address gives FBI lead on record theft of user IDs, passwords
- Federal $1.1 trillion spending bill loaded with policy deals
- Feds tell railroads they must meet deadlines for lifesaving technology
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas