Invasion of the invasivores

I’ve taken the first step toward becoming an “invasivore.”

You know about “carnivores,” meat-eaters like lions and hawks; “herbivores,” animals like rabbits and stegosaurs that survive(d) on plants; and “omnivores,” like humans and pigs that aren’t fussy.

The “-vore” suffix comes from Latin vorāre ‘to swallow, gulp,’ which is also the source of “voracious” and “devour.”

Zoologists have also broken down carnivores into “insectivores” and “piscivores” (fish-eaters), classified some marine creatures as “planktivores” (plankton-eaters) and some birds as “nectarivores.” Some herbivores are so large they rank as “megaherbivores,” a group that includes elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamus. Insects such as the kelp flies that plagued beachgoers in Redondo Beach, California, recently are “detritivores,” animals that feed on detritus. “Detritus” comes from Latin dētrītus ‘rubbing away’ and has meant ‘waste or disintegrated material of any kind; debris.’ Specfically in ecology it means ‘non-living organic material, especially as a source of nourishment.’

On that appetizing note, I’ll move on to “locavore,” which is not a zoological term, but a tongue-in-cheek expression for people who eat locally-produced food, usually to reduce the environmental harm of transporting produce. “Invasivores” go a step farther to protect the environment by eating invasive plants and animals. You can find lots of information and recipes at My husband and I have enjoyed chowing down on some of the fennel and mustard that threatens native plants  in the hills around here. Mustard leaves are extremely HOT when eaten raw, but stir-fried with garlic until they’re shriveled into dark, stringy clumps they are mild but very flavorful. My first excursion into invasivoredom was a treat.

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4 Responses to Invasion of the invasivores

  1. Judy says:

    Very interesting article. Have you tried dandelion?

  2. Pingback: Invasivore Weekly Roundup for July 17, 2011 |

  3. Pingback: The Word Snooper Feels Temptation | Lexie Kahn: Word Snooper

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