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Eat the Invasives

October 18, 2017

Invasive species present real problems for the native plants and animals we rely on for our ecosystem to thrive. Wild boars are ravaging Texas. Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) is choking out native plants in Vermont. Northeastern coastlines are plagued with invasive green crabs that eat up our native clams and mussels. But there's good news - they're all delicious! That's a solution Joe Roman, conservation biologist, author, and researcher at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont wants everyone to explore. Not only will eating invasives help alleviate some of their negative effects, but the way to the mind (as well as the heart) is often through the stomach and he's hoping that finding invasives on the plate will help spark conversation and awareness. 

Check out Joe's website - for more information and recipes on tasty invasive species.

To practice some forks-in invasive dining, Joe Roman organized a class at Hotel Vermont last year with executive Chef Doug Paine, a local leader in sustainable sourcing. Students tried periwinkle snails - delicious but dangerous for native snail populations - and a bisque made of green crab, tomato and sherry. The class was so popular, they are bringing it back this year in the form of a full dinner in partnership with UVM Dining at Sodexo. 

UVM's Harris-Millis Dining Hall, focused on sustainability, will host the dinner and the feast of invaders is open to both students and the public. Red's Seafood of Boston is co-hosting the event. Red's has been leading the charge on getting lesser-known seafood into the market, including both sustainably sourced and invasive species options, according to Emily Portman, Sustainability Manager for UVM Dining. Red's will be sourcing the periwinkles and green crab and Black River Produce will provide greens like lamb's quarter, garlic mustard and watercress as well as white perch - all species that are invasive and abundant here in Vermont. 

What's on the menu? For just $11 for the general public, Harris Millis Executive Chef Eric Caravan will be transforming these destructive species into a mouth-watering feast. A buffet of pulled wild boar pork shoulder and pickled greens, white perch tostadas with maple-garlic mustard, whole fried green crabs and periwinkle linguini, and wild green salad with lamb's quarter and watercress are among the dishes Chef Eric is crafting. 

Students from Professor Kimberly Wallin's Invasion Ecology and Management class will be present during the dinner to discuss the species featured in the meal. UVM's Real Food Working Group will also be at the dinner and available to discuss their programs. 

Dinner Details

WHERE: Harris Millis Dining Hall 

WHEN: Tuesday, October 24

TIME: 4:30 - 8 p.m.

COST: $11 for the General Public | Free for Students with Unlimited Meal Plan 

More Information Here

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