Invasive or Ingredient: Why not both?

Authors: Alana N Seaman*, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Alexia Franzidis, University of North Carolina Wilmington , Hannah Samuelson, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Sophie Rae Ivy, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Topics: Animal Geographies, Tourism Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Invasive Species, Dining, Farm-to-Table
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Invasive species plague locations around the country. Almost every corner of the United States is ecologically, economically, or culturally impacted by the spread of non-native species of plants and animals. Some places have even become synonymous with specific types of invasive species (i.e. kudzu and the American south).

One approach to controlling the existing populations of, and slowing the spread of some invasive species is to utilize them as food sources. However, people are often reluctant to try new foods. Thus, we posit that independently-owned and farm-to-table restaurants, and the chefs that cook for them, are integral to the acceptance of invasive species as both edible and tasty. In addition to their ability to elevate unique and seasonal ingredients, restaurants with creative chefs and changing menus also often attract diners both willing and excited to try new ingredients, dishes, and ways of cooking. Thus, these restaurants and their chefs are uniquely positioned to not only introduce and normalize the eating of some invasive species, but also to aid in the education of the public about the invasives themselves.

Despite the potential for restaurants to contribute to the control of invasives through consumption, little is known about how chefs view the many non-natives species spreading across the country that could be utilized as ingredients in new and/or traditional dishes. Therefore, a qualitative study aimed at exploring how locally recognized chefs at a handful of independently-owned and farm-to-table restaurants view the use of invasive species in their kitchens is proposed.

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