Oregon Invasive Species Council

connect the dots3a_2

Design I worked on with the OISC Education and Outreach Committee, for the upcoming Eat Invasives meal produced by Institute for Applied Ecology.
Trying to move the invasives conversation from “Aaaah! Alien Invaders!” and xenophobia, to human agency. Great collaboration with Carolyn Devine!


Not an Artichoke, Nor From Jerusalem

"Haud Nomine Tantum" (Not in Name Alone). A new seal for NYC Edibles. Marina Zurkow (2012)


What is local? As a challenge to currently marketed notions of ‘sustainable,” “green” and “locavore,” Michael Connor, Alex Freedman and I conceived of and created  a formal “explorer’s club” style dinner for 25 at the Artist’s Institute in New York on Jan 16th 2012. “Not an Artichoke, Nor from Jerusalem” was a dinner that rendered the local exotic, and the exotic all too local.

Click here for documentation, menu, and project description:



Local Heroes

Foraging in Marine Park in early December


I am co-conceiving a dinner that takes a new look at the “local” (info in next post) with Michael Connor and Alex Freedman at The Artist’s Institute (Anthony Huberman/Hunter College space in the LES) on Monday Jan 16. A lot of amazing people were involved –

– Environmental artist Oliver Kellhammer helped us forage at Marine Park, thanks to good tips from Wildman Steve Brill

– Andrew Nundel, a forager in Gloucester MA , whom I met through the Forage Ahead Yahoo Group generously donated his stash of frozen Japanese knotweed

– The chefs Lauryn and Albert from Lucullan Foods are fabulous and exciting to be around, they know so much are are truly adventurers

– and Bun Lai, the owner and genius behind New Haven’s Miya’s Sushi, whom I found through this  GOOD article:  “When Life Gives You Invasive Species, Make Sushi”  that  10 different people sent me. Bun Lai is a gustatory superhero.
Here’s the text he sent Michael today:

I just finished foraging.  I caught roughly fifty Asian shore crabs, thirty wild oysters and a bunch of wild rock seaweed.   I also made you all five bottles of sake from fresh pine needles.  Native Americans used to eat the inner cambrium of pine during winter months when scurvy would be a problem because pine contains a lot of vitamin c.

Check out Bun Lai’s blog


The teeming mice of the Farallon Islands

The final solution, everyone admits, will undoubtedly involve human intervention in a problem caused by humans.


The Farallon Islands are crawling with nonnative house mice, which could be seen in broad daylight darting and scampering in and out of burrows, on crags amid the cliffs and, as if in mocking defiance, around the 124-year-old Victorian house where scientists study the island ecosystem.

The mice are one of the last remaining introduced species left on the islands – and their population has grown to “plague-like” proportions, according to biologists, who are hatching a scheme to kill off the wily rodents, which devour insects and spiders and attract owls, which also chow on seabird chicks….

The mice population has ballooned over the last century. The 60,000 or so mice – about 500 mice per acre – now make up what is believed to be the highest density of rodents on any island in the world.

The teeming hordes devour the island’s insects, the same food that the endemic Farallon arboreal salamander needs to survive. They also attract owls.

“The burrowing owls show up in the fall when the mice population is at its peak, which is now,” said Gerry McChesney, the manager of the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “They find this smorgasbord of mice, but then the mice population crashes in the winter, right when a lot of breeding seabirds arrive on the island.”

The owls, in turn, begin eating the birds, particularly the Ashy storm petrel, a small gray seabird that breeds and nests in the Farallones, which are home to half of the world’s population of the species. These birds, which are listed as a “species of concern” in California, have yet to recover after losing 40 percent of their population in a 20-year period ending in 1992. Only 10,000 to 15,000 are left in the world.

Can’t Eliminate an Invasive Species? Try Eating It. – NYTimes.com

(My emphases added.)

“Humans are the most ubiquitous predators on earth,” said Philip Kramer, director of the Caribbean program for the Nature Conservancy. “Instead of eating something like shark fin soup, why not eat a species that is causing harm, and with your meal make a positive contribution?”

Invasive species have become a vexing problem in the United States, with population explosions of Asian carp clogging the Mississippi River and European green crabs mobbing the coasts. With few natural predators in North America, such fast-breeding species have thrived in American waters, eating native creatures and out-competing them for food and habitats.

While most invasive species are not commonly regarded as edible food, that is mostly a matter of marketing, experts say. Imagine menus where Asian carp substitutes for the threatened Chilean sea bass, or lionfish replaces grouper, which is overfished.

“We think there could be a real market,” said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch, whose 2011 Smart Seafood Guide recommends for the first time that diners seek out invasive species as a “safer, more sustainable” alternative to their more dwindling relatives, to encourage fisherman and markets to provide them.

“What these species need now is a better — sexier — profile, and more cooks who know how to use them,” she said. She has enlisted celebrity chefs to promote eating the creatures.Scientists emphasize that human consumption is only part of what is needed to control invasive species and restore native fish populations, and that a comprehensive plan must include restoring fish predators to depleted habitats and erecting physical barriers to prevent further dissemination of the invaders.

via Can’t Eliminate an Invasive Species? Try Eating It. – NYTimes.com.


From the NY Times, Jan 2, 2011:

A Diet for an Invaded Planet: Invasive Species

There’s a new shift in the politics of food, not quite a movement yet, more of an eco-culinary frisson. But it may have staying power; the signs and portents are there. Vegans, freegans, locavores — meet the invasivores.

Some divers in the Florida Keys recently held a lionfish derby, the idea being to kill and eat lionfish, an invasive species. Local chefs cooperated by promoting the lionfish as a tasty entree. The idea drew editorial support from Andrew Revkin in a post on The Times’s Dot Earth blog in which he also mentioned an attempt by some fisheries biologists to rename the invading Asian carp “Kentucky tuna” to make it more appealing to diners. And the Utne Reader recently ran an article about Chicago chefs turning their attention to the same invasive fish.

The rumblings go further back, of course, as rumblings always do. The idea of eating kudzu and the recipes for it have been around for decades. More recently, at the beginning of 2009, a San Francisco blogger on matters ecological, animal and political, Rachel Kesel, posted a nicely turned argument for the “invasive species diet.”

Ms. Kesel, who grew up with a father who hunted deer, is now a vegetarian, but she included animals as well as plants in her proposed diet. She said in an interview that she was studying in London when she wrote the post, which grew out of conversations about diet and ecology. “If you really want to get down on conservation you should eat weeds,” she decided. And so she blogged.

She now works for the parks department of San Francisco and said she did indeed pursue the vegetable side of the diet she proposed. “I’m really looking forward to some of our spring weeds here,” she said, notably Brassica rapa, also known as field mustard or turnip mustard.

Ms. Kesel has a flair for the kind of rhetoric that any movement needs. “I’m almost serious here,” she concluded her diet post. “Eat for the environment. Eat locally. Eat wild meat. Eat for habitat. Eat invasive.”

Jackson Landers, unlike Ms. Kesel, is completely serious. As the Locavore Hunter, based in Virginia, he teaches urbanites how to hunt and butcher deer. He has branched out from the locavore life to invasives… What if we developed a similar taste for starlings?

I was pleased to see Canada geese and pigeons included in his list, because in the Northeast, neophyte invasivores face some unappetizing possibilities, like the zebra mussel (too little meat and too much salmonella) and the unpleasant and unwanted freshwater algae, Didymosphenia geminata, commonly called didymo, or, with absolutely no trace of affection, rock snot.

I don’t see the beginning of a menu there. But if we broaden the definition of invasives to include the things that invade the average suburbanite’s yard and golf course, a world of possibilities open up — deer, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, skunks, rabbits and woodchucks.