Eating invasive species

  • Wed Sep 25th, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by Kwiaht

Once more, creative cooks are preparing a smorgasbord of tasty treats made from some of the island’s most annoying and destructive invasive species, from blackberries to bunnies and bullfrogs! It will all be laid out for sampling at “Eat the Invaders,” an event beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Vita’s. The musical antics of Jacques Tate and the Small Potatoes will accompany the cuisine in a brand-new show titled “Recipes for Disaster” on Vita’s outdoor stage. Food and entertainment are free. Beverages will be for sale.

This year’s event will feature some new chefs and additional invasive species. ‘We have a number of highly invasive fish and shellfish in the islands that are exquisitely tasty,” says Kwiaht director Russel Barsh. “I grew up on Long Island Sound eating Eastern Softshell Clams, which are native there, but have become seriously invasive in the Salish Sea, crowding out native bivalves.” The most effective response, he says, is “clam chowder,” which he and Kwiaht botanist Madrona Murphy will bring to the Sept. 29 event. Freshwater fish such as Bass, Bluegills, and Brook Trout are also widespread in the islands and undermining efforts to protect and restore Coastal Cutthroat Trout and other native salmonids. “Very nice broiled in lemon and butter,” says Barsh, whose research includes Cutthroat and Chinook salmon.

Diners this year will also find some tasty invasive plants on the sideboard, brought to Eat the Invaders by the bakers at Holly B’s, and Jennifer and Victor of El Taco ‘Bout It will be there putting their special touch on plump, garden-fed rabbits. Anthony Rovente of Edenwild will once again demonstrate the delicacy of frog legs, and Teri Linneman will offer her popular preparations of wild game. It’s all for fun, the organizers say, but also has a serious side. “We rely just a bit too much on those sixteen-wheelers that come off the ferry loaded with packaged food every Monday morning,” Barsh says.

“Eat the Invaders” is brought to you by The Heretics Foundation (the Tate family), Vita’s, and the Lopez based nonprofit conservation laboratory Kwiaht, which monitors invasive species throughout the San Juan Islands and promotes local food security through its Hummel Lake research garden, its heritage-orchard preservation program, reviving the cultivation and use of traditional Coast Salish food plants such as camas, and an education partnership with the Lopez Island Family Resource Center. Donations for the LIFRC partnership program will be accepted at Eat the Invaders.

For information on bringing your own dish of tasty invasive species to share at this special annual event, contact