JL Schatz

When it comes to justifying deep seeded assumptions, the human species will do just about anything to continue practices that are otherwise offensive. Celebrating the killing and eating of non-human animals is precisely one of those core beliefs that are voraciously maintained at all costs. This is why a recent article by Modern Farmer, titled “The Joy of Cooking Invasive Species,” can so flippantly condone the mass murder of living creatures under the faulty guise of environmentalism. The article claims:

Eating your enemies used to be the stuff of cannibal horror movies. Now it's actually condoned by many authorities and can be practiced openly at barbecues, potlucks and picnics. As long as we're talking about consuming invasive plants and animals, that is."

The author Brian Barth explains the trendy new movement of consuming "invasivores":

Kudzu, feral pigs, bullfrogs and burdock are just a few of the foods in the invasivore repertoire. These pests are all edible and some are considered delicacies in their native land. Invasivores seek to re-frame these species as an ethical food choice and have a slew of nifty slogans for the cause, like “Eating Aliens“ and “Eradication by Mastication.”

I'll put aside the obvious problems inherent in current industrial farming and livestock practices including, but not limited to, the fact that the vast majority of American produced flesh comes from factory farms that are decimating the planet and local ecologies at unprecedented speeds.1 I’ll also even put aside the fact that every time humans have tried to manage the environment they have only made things disastrously worse. Instead I want to focus on its reactionary discourse that delineates foreign from domestic and natural from invasive. Let us focus on the sheer hatred of the Other that saturates the article. Such a lens prevents the possibility for any critical thought or meaningful engagement out of its reactionary nature to both vegetarianism and immigration. Of course, the article never mentions America’s invasive human problem. Nevertheless, it is hard not to see the larger fears of immigration and eco-fascism when the author happily writes, “Exploiting to the point of extinction generally has negative undertones, but when it comes to invasives, environmentalists can only pull up a seat at the table.”

Given the fact that environmentalists have made very similar claims of the need to keep Mexicans out of America to protect the environment, and the fact that people happily police and shoot illegal “invasive” immigrants on sight, it is hard not to recognize these undertones. These beliefs that we must keep immigrants out due to the environment are not isolated to fringe groups, but rather are supported by research foundations and government think tanks. Closing off walls and protecting what is natural, of course, has always been an issue for American national security. Whether it has been homosexuality, immigration, or invasive species, the threat construction is always the same and the answer provided all too often is to eradicate.

I am reminded of the 1997 film Starship Troopers, where planet Earth must respond to the threat posed by a possible Arachnid invasion.2 The slogan of the movie was, “Kill Them All!” The film is strikingly similar to the mindset of the War on Terror, the War on Immigration, and the War on Everything Else America fights. In each, the answer to the enemy outside is always to either assimilate or be killed. In the case of invasive species—which are migrating in no small part due to human influence—the answer is only to be killed.

I’d like to close on an elongated quote by Carol Adams in her groundbreaking book, The Sexual Politics of Meat:

Henry Salt observed in 1921: “As long as man [sic] kills the lower races for food or sport, he [sic] will be ready to kill his [sic] own race for enmity. It is not this bloodshed, or that bloodshed, that must cease, but all needless bloodshed—all wanton infliction of pain or death upon our fellow-beings.” … The front…exists not only in traditionally viewed warfare, but also in what they view as the war against nonhuman animals, typified in hunting and meat eating. Thus…Wars will never cease while men [sic] still kill other animals for food, since to turn any living creature into a roast, a steak, a chop, or any other form of “meat” takes the same kind of violence, the same kind of bloodshed and the same kind of mental processes required to change a living man [sic] into a dead soldier.


1. See Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation for a detailed rundown on the environmental impact of factory farms.
2. See Paul Williams, “Starship Troopers, the War on Terror and the spectacle of censorship,” in Science Fiction Film and Television, Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2009.

JL Schatz is a Professor of English and Feminist Evolutionary Studies at Binghamton University where he also serves as the Director of the Speech and Debate Team, which was ranked 1st in the nation in 2008. He has published essays on technology and apocalypse, environmental securitization, and the influence of science-fiction on reality.

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