When you think about the concept of invasive species, eating them doesn’t come to mind. But here at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, we like to think outside of the box. These past few weeks our PWA crew has been avidly mapping the surplus of invasive species along the Chadakoin River. Walking up and down the Riverwalk, out behind the Gateway Center, and near McCrea Point we’ve taken numerous GPS coordinates. We input the data into the statewide databases, such as iMap Invasives. We’ve focused mainly on Japanese Knotweed, Multiflora Rose, Honeysuckle, Japanese Barberry, Garlic Mustard, Water Chestnut, and Tree of Heaven. These guys were introduced to the United States for different reasons, but they all share one common factor; they threaten our native species. But these invasives deserve a second chance right? A way to redeem themselves. Well, why not utilize their edible qualities? I mean it could potentially reduce their quantity. You’re probably thinking “Why would we want to eat something if it’s harmful to nature, won’t it harm our bodies?” Well, it’s highly unlikely that these guys will sprout and overtake your insides like they do the environment, but don’t quote me on that. This past Wednesday, the PWA crew taste tested some recipes that include invasive species and the verdict; invasive species can be tasty! Thanks to chef James Salamone, we discovered a productive use of invasive species.
Salamone set up a stand outside the RTPI 3rd street location in order to draw in the locals. He made two recipes: Blackberry Knotweed Cobbler and Garlic Mustard Fried Rice. Both were equally as delicious and the tastes of the invasives were subtle.
When asked, James said he had cooked with invasive species before, but never these specific ones. It’s a neat way to truly experience these invasive species that surround us everyday. Speaking for myself, I would definitely eat them again. Plus we got a free lunch out of it. It was quite an interesting opportunity and I hope more people venture out and enjoy tasty invasives.