What's an Invasivore?

Photo: Ryan Somma/Flickr.

We’re not just eaters anymore. We’re omnivores or vegetarians or vegans or locavores or femivores (I’ll never stop snickering at that label) or flexitarians or ... invasivores?

Invasivore is a new term I learned yesterday from a New York Times piece. Invasivores eat invading species of plants and animals. In the Florida Keys, lionfish is being served up by local chefs. This striped invasive predator is taking over parts of the Caribbean and devastating the ecology of the marine system. It’s estimated that a single female lionfish can produce 2 million eggs a year.

Fortunately, lionfish taste good. One way of dealing with an unwanted rapidly growing population is to eat them. Those who eat lionfish specifically because they are an invasive species are becoming known as invasivores.

It’s not just invasive fish that are being eaten. It’s invasive plants, too. Edible weeds are being hunted and eaten as a way to stop them from invading further.

Invasivores seek the environmental benefits of their eating habits. Like a locavore that chooses locally grown food so that a minimum amount of energy is used to transport it, an invasivore chooses some of his foods to lessen the devastation that invasive species do to the local environment. Both types of eaters are motivated by their environmentalism.

Some take eating invasive species further than just eating things that don’t belong. They are eating animals that are a nuisance on their property — invading their backyards and gardens. Squirrels, rabbits and opossums can be considered fair game, as long as you kill them yourself.

What’s your take on this new type of eater, the invasivore, and our habit of labeling people by what they eat? Is it necessary to label people so specifically by what they eat and why they eat it?