The roe of the common Carp makes a reasonably good caviar and can be bought from large US sources, such as Stoller Fisheries in Spirit Lake Iowa. Some report that carp caviar taste nearly as good as Russian or "Beluga" caviar. We're not sure of this but would welcome a comment from anyone who has been in a position to compare. Note: The commercial labeling of roe from whitefish, carp, and paddlefish as "caviar" is reportedly disallowed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, carp roe are sold salted, just as sturgeon caviar are. The processing is the same; only the species are different.
This good news builds on the fact that the various Sturgeon, the source of what is officially labeled "caviars," are rapidly being made extinct, primarily by excessive commercial harvesting and poaching. Anything to help shift market interest to a more sustainable alternative is helping to protect the Beluga and other endangered roe fish such as the Paddlefish.
There is an important caveat to this good news story, however. Carp do well in warm, slow-flowing, or still waters, and are pollution tolerant, which means they often inhabit urban rivers and lakes. They feed upon shallow, muddy shoals, comsuming aquatic weeds, insect larvae, snails, young fish, and so on. If the mud they consume with these items is contaminated, they may be ingesting the contamination directly. Therefore, for the time being, it would be adviseable to avoid eating carp eggs harvested from the well known " PCB hotspots", such as the various "Areas of Concern" in the Great Lakes Basin. Instead of this being a reason to despair, it is one more reason to support USEPA mandated, as well as voluntary, PCB cleanup or harbor restoration projects.
Little Known and Wondrous Caviar Facts:
A vegan caviar product known as Cavi*Art is available from the UK. As they offer several "varieties" and do not seem to have the obnoxious labeling restrictions as FDA has imposed in the US, the presentation is pretty interesting. Let us know if you have tried them!