Local companies convert invasive species into food and drink

Inside the Botanica Restaurant and Gin Bar, something you wouldn’t normally find in a restaurant is prepared.

“They have great flavor,” said Brendan Vesey, chef and owner of the restaurant.

Vesey talks about green crabs.

“We knew green crabs were a big problem here,” Vessey said.

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Decide to put it on the list. Not only because it’s an invasive species in the United States, but also because the population is growing, and harvesting them for food is one way to help keep these numbers at bay.

“Just getting people to think about it and hear about it is a reason to try something kind of new. It gets people excited about the restaurant, and it makes them think more about their impact on dinner,” Vessey said.

These small crustaceans also harm the nearby oysters and mussels.

“One green crab can eat about 40 mussels a day,” Vessey said.

It’s not just green lobster. Biologist Richard Primack said invasive species are becoming a problem everywhere.

“It’s a concern because these species are displacing native species and changing the ecosystem in often negative ways,” said Primack, a professor of plant ecology at Boston University.

He said we’re seeing more invasive species than before.

“In part, because people are on the move, and the plants and animals are more so than in the past,” he said. “But also the environment is being changed by human activity.”

Green crab is just one example.

“Green crab has been around for 200 years. Suddenly, in the past few decades, it has become more and more common and that’s because conditions are changing,” Primack said.

“Our winters aren’t getting cold anymore, so their numbers are swelling,” said Will Robinson, product development distiller at Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile.

Therefore, Robinson drew inspiration from other regions of the country.

“I was aware of the lionfish efforts that were taking place in the Florida Keys, and the Asian carp in the Midwest. They are turning more and more towards local businesses to get them to introduce these delicious invasive species,” he explained.

If you thought the idea of ​​eating green crabs was weird, Robinson took it a step further. With the help of chemistry, he infused green crab broth into whiskey.

“It was kind of a way to bring together, something that looks good from an ecological point of view, all of those things together to raise awareness of an issue,” he said.

While the Crab Trapper whiskey and signature lobster bowls may not be for you, the hope of these local businesses is to educate more people on how to help the immediate environment around them.

“We’re not going to eat our way out of this problem, but maybe we can publish some information and someone else will come up with an interesting solution,” Vessey said.