Eating Invasive Species

An original piece written for the University of South Florida. This work was nominated to be a part of the University's Write-a-Bulls yearly publishing.


Eating Invasive Species - University of South Florida, Nominated writing Piece

            Imagine a world where your favorite foods no longer exist, or a place where the tropical paradise of your choice isn’t a peaceful, relaxing retreat anymore. When animals and plants are introduced to new lands that they aren‘t native to, they can have a harmful and devastating impact; these cases are referred to as invasive species. Taras Grescoe’s editorial, titled “How to Handle an Invasive Species? Eat It”, goes into detail regarding the overwhelming threat to ecosystems from invasive species. With the use of pathetic, ethical, and logical appeal, Grescoe manages to get his point across by utilizing humor a wit. He suggests that people either need to start eating invasive species, or find some other creative method of getting rid of them, before entire ecosystems fall apart.

            In the recent years, invasive species have been taking a greater toll on society and ecosystems. Grescoe provides evidence of this by sharing Northern Ireland’s experience, in which jellyfish from the Mediterranean Sea traveled into a bay, killing 120,000 fish in Northern Ireland’s only salmon farm. It’s surprising to discover that a country’s entire supply of salmon, a very popular fish worldwide, was wiped out in under a year. By opening with this statement, he is able to provide the reader with a sense of how threatening foreign species can really be. In order to make his article more emotionally appealing, Grescoe brings the danger of invasive species closer to home, where he mentions the Asian carp, a 100-pound fish that has out competed most of the native species in the area of the Mississippi Delta. He makes the danger seem more near when he says “The only thing preventing this cold-water-loving species from infesting the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world, is an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.” This brings forth a major problem, considering more than fifteen percent of the U.S. population lives in the Great Lakes region (UW Seagrant).

            After providing facts on the Asian carp and the locations that it poses a threat to, Grescoe provides reasons as to how such occurrences of invasion begin to happen. He blames global warming and the fact that warmer waters means that species that thrive in tropical waters can now venture off further and further, but then he turns his attention to man:

                        “Supertankers and cargo ships suck up millions of gallons of ballast water in distant estuaries and ferry jellyfish, cholera bacteria, seaweed, diatoms, clams,                                water fleas, shrimp and even good-sized fish halfway around the globe” (Grescoe).

Because people travel and trade with other countries, we are the main reason for invasive species. He doesn’t hover long on this, however, because readers don’t like to be accused of wrong doings. Quickly making the point that “the first recorded case of invasive species dates 1245”, Grescoe avoids bluntly blaming our society in the recent years; after all, there is always a way to fix mistakes, so why point fingers?

           The sensible solution presented by Grescoe is for cargo ships to empty their water tanks at sea, rather than in harbors and bays. One issue with this method, however, is money. When ships have to stall in oceanic waters just to dump out a ballast tank, they waste precious time, which means they are losing money. Another problem with this is that it’s not guaranteed to be effective. As stated in another article on invasive species, “…the most vexing problem is that flushing the ballast water out of tanks while a ship is at sea is no guarantee that all non-native organisms will be removed…microscopic organisms can adhere to the tanks…”(Hosansky). For this reason, it becomes a difficult task to find companies and traders willing to agree to a routine that costs them money and isn’t 100 percent effective.

           Knowing this concern, Grescoe makes a witty proposal, “To save our oceans and lakes…it is high time we developed a taste for invasive species.” He says because we are running out of was to control invasive species, we should start putting them on our menus. This suggestion is similar to Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” in which he suggests that the Irish eat their babies to prevent poor children from being a burden to society.

            Grescoe continues on in the article to give prime examples of countries actually eating invasive species as a method of solving the problem:

                        “In the summer of 2005, a half-billion [Nomura’s jellyfish, a monstrous 450-pound creature that can tear apart fishing nets] were estimated to be floating from                          the shores of China to the Sea of Japan every day, forming a ring of slime around the entire nation…The citizens of Fukui, a northern Japanese island,                                      coped by marketing souvenir cookies flavored with powdered jellyfish.”

By providing actual evidence supporting his seemingly absurd theory to eat invasive species, Grescoe is able to keep his rationality as a persuasive writer. Supporting his idea confirms that his idea is realistic and that is a completely sensible one. He goes on to further suggest that America needs to follow Asia’s lead in putting invasive species on the menu if we are going to stop them from harming our land anymore.

            Creatures from different lands invade our country more and more every year. The issues concerning them and their impact keep expanding, and little is being done to stop them. Many species are out of control, and even with effective methods of controlling their growth rate, such as hunting and birth control, they are still rapidly overtaking the country. Non-native animals, like the Asian carp, pose a great hazard to our country and “cause major environmental damage and losses totaling about $137 billion per year” (Grescoe). Grescoe uses his persuasive methods to try and convince restaurant owners and U.S. citizens to try his idea of eating species like carp. His humorous writing method, emotional appeal, and use of various situations to support his belief, make his article very convincing. Who knows, maybe Asian carp will be the next big hit on restaurant menus around the country.


Works Cited

Grescoe, Taras. “How to Handle an Invasive Species? Eat It.” The New York Times. 20 February 2008. 12 September 2009. < opinion/20grescoe.html?_r=1>

Hosansky, David. “Invasive Species. Can harmful foreign plants and animals be stopped?” The CQ Researcher Online. 05 October 2001. 12. September 2009.<>

Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal.” 1729. 21 September 2009.<>

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. “Gifts of the Glaciers.” UW Aquatic Sciences Center. 2008.  21 September 2009. <        /glaciers/Home/tabid/36/ Default.aspx>