You’ve heard of the locavore, but what about the invasivore? Whether it’s lionfish, which are ruining reefs in Mexico, or wild boar, tearing up California valleys, invasive species are the latest offering on menus around the world. After being accidentally introduced to local habitats, where most of them don’t have natural predators, these organisms multiply—often at a rapid pace—causing environmental stress, infrastructure harm, and even health problems. Pioneering chefs are taking sustainability one step further by working with foragers, fishermen, and hunters as a form of edible conservation. “I was looking to utilize ingredients that may not be mainstream,” says Taylor Naples of Craft New York. “Then I realized these items had great flavor.” Here’s a global guide to some of the animals, fish, and plants you might order next.
The hogs, which are native to Europe and Asia, were first brought over by explorers to the U.S. in the 1700s. Eventually, they broke free from their owners and went feral, and now you’ll find them coast to coast. At Giorgio’s in Salinas, Calif., chef Alessio Giannuzzi serves his swine with tomato bruschetta and prosciutto he cures himself. Boar meat is dark and lean, packing a more intense flavor than cured ham, like a gamey version of regular pork. Giannuzzi also adds boar—a popular meat in Italy—to a ragout for pasta dishes such as pappardelle and lasagna.