At the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center’s (UNDERC) field station in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula, more than a dozen doctoral students went beyond the bounds of academia to combat invasive plants and animals. The group spent their days collecting data for their dissertations, helping point to strategies to keep exotic species in check. But evenings at the Michigan field station saw the team experimenting with another approach to controlling invasives — eating them.
“I’ve always thought real biologists shouldn’t be afraid to eat their study organisms,” says Andrew Deines, who spent a few weeks during the past few summers at the field station wading through rivers and wetlands with his gastronomically intrepid colleagues.
Invasivorism at the center began as a fun outreach project in 2011, and it simultaneously caught fire as a national culinary trend. From backwater juke joints to fine Manhattan eateries, invasivore dishes bring awareness of an ecological problem to the table.
The invasivore biologists have graduated and dispersed to other research labs, but their zest for “eating our enemies,” as Deines puts it, lives on. Here are just a few of the dishes Deines, now a postdoctoral associate at the Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, and some of his fellow biologists cooked up to take a bite out of this invasive problem.