Posts Tagged ‘invasive species’

Jan10

Iguana Meat Is on the Table

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By Victoria Russo

Green and scaly, with a mouth full of sharp teeth, the iguana might not look like a nutritious meal. But as the iguana population surpasses the human population in Puerto Rico—destroying gardens, digging holes under houses, and blocking roads and runways—residents are beginning to use the animal for meat. Although there is, as of yet, little global demand for this untraditional dish, Puerto Ricans are looking to international meat markets to support local pest control.

Iguana meat is said to taste like chicken. (Photo Credit: National Geographic)

Iguanas originated in Central and South America and were first brought to Puerto Rico in the 1970s to be sold as pets. The reptiles reproduce quickly, with mature females laying up to 70 eggs annually. Once iguanas entered the wild in Puerto Rico, the population quickly spiraled out of control. The animals are well camouflaged and very fast, which makes them difficult to catch.

By using iguanas for food, Puerto Ricans have found an effective way to control the reptile’s exploding population. Iguana meat has been compared to a slightly sweeter version of chicken, and common recipes include stews, tacos, and roasts. Iguana eggs are edible as well, and are said to have a rich, cheesy flavor. Puerto Rico is not the only place using iguanas for food: in Central and South America, the meat is seen as a delicacy. Nutritionally, it is rich in minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, and has more protein than chicken. If Puerto Ricans develop a taste for the meat, iguana could become a staple food source for the island.

Some other countries, including El Salvador and Mexico, already have export industries for iguana meat. Between 2001 and 2008, the United States imported more than 9,071.85 kilograms of the meat to meet the low but rising demand for consumption by humans. According to the Dallas Observer, iguana meat can go for up to $50 per pound in some U.S. markets. The business can be so lucrative that people in some countries have established iguana farms to ensure consistent supply. The production of iguana has resulted in markets for other products as well: iguana skin is used to make leather, while iguana oil is used for medicinal purposes (for example, for rheumatism, to clear up bruises, and as an aphrodisiac).

The production of iguana meat and other products could benefit Puerto Rico in multiple ways: it could protect other Puerto Rican fauna, offer new employment opportunities, and boost domestic food security.

Have you (or would you) try iguana meat? Let us know in the comments below.

Victoria Russo is a research intern with the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project.

 

Feb27

Video Spotlight of the Week

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Each week Nourishing the Planet features one of our favorite videos from our travels, research in the field and events where we share our findings with agricultural stakeholders around the world. You can watch all of our videos on Nourishing the Planet’s YouTube channel to see more.

In this past episode of Nourishing the Planet TV, Dane Kane reports on the innovative work of Dr. Eduardo Rapoport, Professor at the Universidad Nacional Del Camohue, in identifying edible invasive species in South America—especially in urban areas. These plants often go ignored, but many can be a good source of affordable nutrients if people know where to look and how to prepare them.

Or click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Dec26

In Case You Missed It: The Week in Short

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We hope you all are enjoying your holidays!

photo credit: Bernard Pollack

Here are some highlights from this week: Our weekly innovation featured discussion of  “climate smart” agricultural practices in order to improve food security and climate change adaptation, such as crop diversification and urban farming. In this week’s episode of Nourishing the Planet TV Dan Kane reports on the wide variety of invasive species that are edible, though they are most often considered “weeds”.  Learn what works and what organizations are working to feed the growing populations living in urban areas.

The United Nations had declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity but the Food and Agriculture Organization recently released a second report on The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture warning of the dangers of failing to conserve wild plant varieties related to crops grown for human consumption. Also check out the third part of a series on farming in conflict zones, which outlines the challenges that farmers in Liberia are starting to overcome.  

Nourishing the Planet was also featured in the Christian Science Monitor, on Radio America, and Voice of America News in China.

Dec05

In Case You Missed It: The Week in Short

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An exciting week for Nourishing the Planet as we traveled to Mexico for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, or COP16 as its known, to speak at the Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2010. We also announced the official press launch of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, which will take place on January 12th at the WNYC’s Greene Space. We’d love to have you there – RSVP on Facebook.

photo credit: Bernard Pollack

This week’s innovation highlighted Mona Foundation’s Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India, which is working to provide education to young women to help them develop practical skills like reading, sewing, and horticulture—and more abstract ones like confidence and self esteem— they need in order to start businesses, produce food, care for their families, and improve their livelihoods. In this week’s episode of Nourishing the Planet TV, correspondent Elena Davert reports on how a potentially invasive species can be turned into products that improve livelihoods.

From this week’s What Works, our readers’ responses tell us what innovations are helping to empower women and girls in creating food security. The concluding guest post from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) discusses the ever-increasing volumes of urban wastewater in developing countries and how Pakistan lady health workers (LHW) are working to make wastewater irrigation of food and fodder crops safe and sustainable. And in Florida twelve of the largest tomato growers in the Immokalee region came together to sign the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) growers’ Code of Conduct agreement as part of their Campaign for Fair Food.

Dec01

Nourishing the Planet TV: Turning an Invasive Species into a Sustainable Livelihood

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In this week’s episode, Nourishing the Planet research intern, Elena Davert, explains how, in Kenya, the potentially devastating invasive plant, the water hyacinth, is being transformed into a boon for local livelihoods. With the help of organizations like Village Volunteers, farmers living on the shore of Lake Victoria are harvesting the water hyacinth to produce biodegradable furniture, fertilizer, and other commercial products to simultaneously clear the water of the dangerous plant and improve local livelihoods.

 

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1Gm2WQbJkA&feature=player_embedded

To read more about innovations that improve livelihoods and the environment, see: Turning an Invasive Species into a Sustainable Livelihood.

Nov21

In Case You Missed it: The Week in Short

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This week Nourishing the Planet is traveling through Idaban and Lagos, Nigeria meeting with farmers and groups about their innovations.

photo credit: Bernard Pollack

This week’s innovation features Dr. Eduardo  Rapoport at the Universidad Nacional Del Camohue and his research on the edible invasive species that have the potential to improve food security. And in this week’s NtP TV Janeen Madan reports on the Knowledge Network and their work to help students research conservation practices online and then take that into their farms and gardens.

We had the first of three guest posts by staff at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a non-profit organization supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). This first post discusses research that motivated the Indian government in Gujarat to invest in electricity infrastructure that brought the state into agricultural production. We had another guest post by Worldwatch alumni Juliane Diamond, interviewing Gil-ad Chen, Manager of the Wildlife Alliance’s Agriculture and Reforestation Project. Gil-ad explained the organizations programs that work with former poachers and illegal loggers to help offer them alternative incomes from agriculture and reforestation. Our India highlight this week features the international network know as Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (RUAF) who is trying to reduce urban poverty and improve food security through urban farming