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Chefs transform destructive invasive animal into gourmet delight: 'It's a real easy equation'

"We got a lot of resistance from the USDA at first, which was frustrating."

"We got a lot of resistance from the USDA at first, which was frustrating."

Photo Credit: iStock

Chefs in the United States are bringing wild boar to a fresh set of palates, and their practical introduction of the protein could prevent billions of dollars' worth of damages.

As detailed by the Guardian, more than six million of the feral pigs roam the United States after being brought over by Christopher Columbus in 1493. 

Chef Jesse Griffiths, co-owner of Austin, Texas, restaurant Dai Due, told the outlet that incorporating the game meat into his menu was a no-brainer.

"I think it's a real easy equation: They're invasive, they need to be removed," he said. "The argument for a lot of other game species we eat isn't as strong, but it is pretty glaring when it comes to hogs."

The Department of Agriculture has only 15 facilities inspecting wild boar to ensure they meet federal food safety guidelines, but some are hopeful the agency will expand operations. Broken Arrow and Shogun Farms are among the providers helping to get wild boar to restaurant plates. 

"We got a lot of resistance from the USDA at first, which was frustrating," Pamela Fay, the owner of Shogun Farms, told the Guardian. "... They're starting to see this as a great solution, and we've had representatives from the entire Southeast come visit."

Native to Europe and already a popular dish in some regions, wild boar have wreaked havoc as an invasive species in North America, causing an estimated $2.5 billion in damages to pastures, food crops, livestock, and forests every year, according to the USDA

The agency noted that their presence has been "linked to the decline of nearly 300 native plants and animals … including native game species," as well as the transmission of diseases and water quality issues. 

Given that animal agriculture also brings with it the risk of water contamination and accounts for millions of tons of harmful pollution every year, adding wild boar to menus could be a promising part of the solution to reduce their negative environmental impact.

New York's Eataly, Houston's Rainbow Lodge, San Francisco's Quince, Los Angeles' Redbird, and Florida's Chiles Hospitality waterfront restaurants are among the dining establishments to feature wild boar sourced from Broken Arrow or Shogun Farms, which also sells its product at two retail locations, as reported by the Guardian.

The feedback has been positive. 

"It's like the difference from farm-fresh eggs compared to those you get from a grocery store," Fay told the outlet, referring to the boar at her Tampa, Florida, farm. 

Farmshare Austin education and operations coordinator Casey Frank, meanwhile, spoke to the need for further organization to continue making progress on the issue. 

"It definitely requires a regional approach and some level of community support. It's just too much for us to deal with as individuals," he said

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