The Mighty Carp

It is time for something a little light hearted. My brother, Ted, likes to clip articles from various sources to send to me. He knows my interests, so the article contents typically support or challenge those. He and I don’t agree on everything, but do on most.

One article he clipped was one about the Asian carp, a fish now found almost throughout the United States but one that was not native to North America. Various carp species were brought to this continent from Europe in the early 1800’s. Not the smartest decision environmentally, but humans were pretty stupid about those things then. In Europe, the carp are both a sports and food fish. In Asia, carp have been a popular food fish for thousands of years. In North America, carp have not been considered either a sport or food fish. Mostly, they are considered a “trash fish”. That may be changing.

The article Ted sent says, “Asian carp is leaping onto table-tops in Kentucky’s finest dining establishments”. At a restaurant named, “The Ward 426”, the fish is served as “Kentucky Carp”. The charge is $24 for fish specially browned in butter and served atop sweet potato puree with roasted fig jam and mushrooms pickled in balsamic vinegar. In Kentucky, the carp are sometimes called, “Western Kentucky Silver Carp”. It outsells catfish whether grilled, fried, blackened or buffalo-style. One top chef compares carp to scallops and Chilean sea bass. For the white and meaty carp, chefs pay less than half the price of more expensive seafood such as sea bass.

Mature Asian carp average 45 to 70 pounds. Now there is a fish! The meat is white, clean tasty, and low in contaminants such as mercury due to its feeding habits. Carp are plant eaters.

But carp are environmentally destructive. This is a fish that when too many can really screw up the aquatic environment for native fish. This is a fish that lays 1 million eggs a year. An over population is a threat to native fish such as bluegill, crappie, bass, and shad. Oh, did I say that the eggs can be a source of roe or caviar? So, what to do?

The answer is for human beings in North America to eat up. A knife and fork will go wonders to helping the environment and enjoying a fish feast. The Mighty Carp needs to become a staple in our search for “sea food”. All winners for the environment and for the food supply.

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About Kent Blacklidge Ph.D.

As part of a newspaper family who owned a 34,000 daily newspaper in the heart of the Midwest, I have a passion for a strong “Fourth Estate”, the press. Without a diligent and assertive free press, the power would be taken from the people. People have the absolute right to know. After earning a degree in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, I spent over 20 years in newspaper management with several as publisher. I am also holder of three graduate science degrees including a Ph.D.. I have a passionate interest in science and the environment. I have little tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
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