How to beat invasive species – Eat ’em!

Written by: Sue Nichols

Primary Sources: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

How to beat invasive species - Eat 'em!Invasive species, from Asian carp to rock snot, are a big environmental and economic issue across the world. I also find these misplaced invaders often are loaded with helpless enviro-guilt (I do feel bad about zebra mussels, yet I admit I cannot wash every boat I see in Lake Michigan. Sorry.

Yet one of my colleagues in MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability is actually taking action. Cool action. Action tinged with vengeance.

Visit, which has as a first course of battling invasive species by serving up the idea if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em.

Andy Deines in the fieldAndy Deines
is a post-doctoral researcher working to understand the ecological and economic impacts of invasive species.  He’s also been into cooking since he was a kid. So he grows up to find a like-minded band of early career scientists and they get together to try to eat their way out of a problem.
OK, Andy admits it’s unlikely anybody’s going to chow through an ecological crisis. And he also is first to point out that there are great risks to getting too attached to that plan. Creating too great a demand for an invasive species could well just create a whole new set of problems.

“One of the worries is that wildlife managers may jump on the bandwagon to promote eating an invasive species – like Asian carp – to control it, and sink a lot of money into it without having research to show it will have a desired ecological effect,” Andy said. “It could at the least turn out that money would be wasted.”

So’s mission is to enjoy the wacky scientists’ endeavor to turn autumn olive fruits into aFistful of autumn olivesAutumn olive wine wine to rival pinot grigio – ok, bad pino grigio —  or browsing for links to recipes for kudzu (pork tenderloin with kudzu salsa, and as a bonus you can use leftovers to weave baskets!). But Andy says that also on the menu is raising awareness about the misguided species.

Word’s spreading. Listen to a recent feature by Torah Kachur of CBC of Edmonton’s The Future of Food program. The interview starts at 16:55 minutes in.

My favorite part is when Andy bubbles about the “visceral righteous feeling” he gets when eating a species that’s harming something that is loved.

That’s what I call just desserts.

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Sue Nichols
I’m assistant director of MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and am in charge of strategic research communication.
Sue Nichols

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