Eating Aliens: One Man's Answer to Invasive Species

Ransom Riggs

Back in high school daze, my buddy Jackson Landers was a hyperactive polymath who could always be counted on to have the most interesting summer plans. One year he swore he was going to walk to Peru and back from his house in Virginia. The crazy thing is, we all believed we would actually follow through with it. He was that kind of guy: seemingly knowledgeable about everything, entirely convincing, and just a teensy bit nuts (in a charming way). I lost track of Jackson for a few years but caught up with him recently, only to find that he's become a hunting instructor and locavore activist -- which means, among other things, that he teaches urban foodies how to hunt and kill and field-dress their own venison.

He was horrified by a recent massacre of 400 Canada geese in Brooklyn's Prospect Park -- the city claimed they posed a hazard to passing aircraft, and perhaps they did -- but it was more the method of their disposal Jackson took issue with. They were gassed to death and tossed into a landfill. “I saw people saying you can’t eat them, and I knew that wasn’t true,” he said, quoted in a recent New York Times article. "Canada geese, Mr. Landers said, taste better than most species of duck. Their diets are more consistent. 'They’re herbivores, grazers,” he said. “In Prospect Park, they’re eating mown grass.'"

So he organized a workshop to teach Brooklynites how to cook goose.

“When people think goose, they think something out of Charles Dickens, that it’s this big thing that you have to roast whole like a Christmas turkey,” Mr. Landers said by phone. “My theme is going to be casual goose. You can take that goose and just do it like fried chicken. You can take the meat off the bones and run it through a grinder and you’ve got gooseburgers.”

It was a practical solution to a pesky problem -- what to do with invasive or otherwise troublesome species, besides throw them away? In a world where so many go hungry every day, and in which privileged westerners are becoming more adventurous about what they eat all the time (in LA, for instance, tongue and brain tacos on a menu are more likely to provoke curiosity than gagging), the answer seemed obvious: eat them. And that is the concept behind Jackson's proposed new reality show, Eating Animals. Check out the trailer and let us know what you think in the comments!

A trailer for Jackson Landers’s proposed show about eating invasive species.