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November 8, 2009

Save the environment: Eat red lionfish?

RedLionFishWho 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)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:52 AM | | Comments (26)


We already eat kudzu. Most arrowroot starch is actually kudzu.

Cows love it, too.

Save the lionfish!

There's been a lot about food in the Economist lately.

A couple of weeks ago they did a story on deep fried butter at the Texas State Fair.

This week there was something on Cadburry merging with Kraft that had this great line: :"Most Britons would rather eat scorpions than Hershey's."

Lissa, somehow I'm guessing that we would have to use arrowroot a lot more than we do to make a dent in the kudzu.

I use a log of arrowroot starch, Dahlink. I'm doing my part.

I agree with the Brits that I'd rather eat scorpions than Hershey's, but Cadbury isn't exactly good chocolate, either.

a log of arrowroot starch

An interesting image.

The Brits certainly didn't complain about Hershey's chocolate when we were shipping over there by the freighter-full in 1940-46. It sustained many a hungry European when the GIs gave out their rations. Scorpions? They should be eating crow and whistling "Dixie."

Brits won't eat Hershey's but they eat Jelly Babies?

One of the points in the article is that people form deep attachments to chocolate brands in ways they don't for other products, and that makes mergers more tricky.

Brits are partial to Cadbury, while Americans are partial to Hershey's even though neither is really that good. It's not about what's the best. It's about what did you grow up with.

The odd thing with all of this is that I think Cadbury products for distribution in America are made by Hershey's.

Hershey's has changed their formula since I was a child.

This is why they suck so badly.

Scorpion Eggs!
Bunny Kisses!
I'll shut up now!

Please produce evidence of your claim that Hershey's has changed its formula since you were a child.

Cleatus, I don't know this for sure, but I suspect, like Coke, Hershey's has stopped using real cane sugar and switched to HFCS.

Coke from Latino countries and kosher for Passover Coke have real cane sugar - taste and compare.

Cleatus; here.

Although my father swore they changed it around 1979, too.

Lissa/Joyce: So you're saying the Brits developed this taste for scorpions over Hershey's chocolate within the past two years? Seems implausible to me.

Cleatus, nope. I'm just saying a lot of sweet stuff tastes differently now because of HFCS.

I know nothing of Brits and scorpians!

I do know that Belgian and Swiss chocolate totally rocks though.

Oh, all this talk about High Fructose Corn Syrup will bring out Big Corn's PR people. It's only a matter of time before one of them posts some talking points on this blog about how HFCS is the same as sugar.

Joyce: You're right. Toberlone and Nutella rule.

I just think the Brits should be a bit circumspect when they dis the chocolate bar that helped get Hitler off their backs.

Cleatus: You dah man, although, I'm not big on the swiss or belgian chocolates.

Just saw that Toblerone is made by Kraft Foods in Switzerland. Nutella is Italian-made, although wouldn't be surprised if one of the big food companies isn't behind that one, too.

I just got a box of Kirchmayr chocolate at the farmers market.It's quite delicious.

All chocolate is good chocolate IMHO. Except Nestle's. Again IMHO:)

I like Dove chocolate. The chocolate company Mars had that Mars Real Chocolate Relif Act a couple of months ago. It was reported on someone's blog. People got a free chocolate bar from them. I don't know if what they say is true or not.

Would the same solution work for snakeheads?

We used to live in Switzerland and thought Swiss chocolate was the best, then we traveled to Belgium and had to reconsider.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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