Save the environment: Eat red lionfish?
Who knows? Pretty soon you may be seeing panko-crusted red lionfish with a sherry-Dijon beurre blanc on the menu of your favorite seafood restaurant.
The Economist is excited about the fact that the restaurant business may take care of a serious ecosystem problem.
No, I don't subscribe to the Economist. (Of course that's not my Entertainment Weekly over there.) But I have a daughter in business school who does.
According to the story, the red lionfish is an invasive predator that can gobble up 80 percent of small fish when introduced into an environment where it's not native. It's a "top predator" because it has poisonous spines, so even sharks leave it alone.
Well, it's not quite the top predator. ...
As Calvin Trillin once said, lobster is protected from its natural enemy by its high price. The same doesn't seem to be true of red lionfish -- yet.
A company called Sea to Table, which connects chefs with fishermen from sustainable wild fisheries, has gotten high-end restaurants in Chicago and New York to test out the fish. (Apparently when they are de-spined, red lionfish taste like snapper.) The idea is that if there's enough demand, divers in the Caribbean, where the fish is damaging the biodiversity of the coral reefs, will be happy to go out and catch them.
The restaurants' customers loved the flavor, but also loved the idea they were doing something good for the environment.
Why am I skeptical of this as an eco-solution? It reminds me of when Gailor explained the concept of "perverse incentives" to me and used as an example a government that put a bounty on rats to get rid of them, so people started to farm rats.
On the other hand, one commenter on the story online suggested figuring out a way to make kudzu taste good.
Now that's a concept I can get behind.
(Photo courtesy of the Economist Web site)