Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let Them Eat Carp?

Whenever we hear talk of poverty or hunger in America, it's always important to keep the perspective that what we're talking about is relative to the overall conditions in the country. Illinois launches Asian carp anti-hunger program:

Starting Thursday, the department launches a campaign to change the fish's image and demonstrate how to work with the ultra-bony meat. Officials have enlisted Louisiana chef Philippe Parola, who's become a national advocate for the fish he calls silverfin. He plans to fry up the fish that tastes something like mahi mahi, so audience members can taste samples.

Getting carp to soup kitchens and food pantries is months off, said Tracy Smith, a director for Feeding Illinois, which supplies food banks and is helping on the project.

The idea is modeled after a state program that lets hunters donate deer meat to be ground and distributed to food pantries. But there's no system in place for netting Asian carp in large amounts and cleaning and distributing the fish. And state officials don't know the most feasible way to dole out the carp: minced or as boneless fillets, for example.

While eating Asian carp isn't new — it's consumed in China and high-end restaurants, among other places — the first step to get it to the American masses is countering the yuck factor.

Illinois officials appear to have their work cut out for them; recent visitors to Our Lady of Grace Food Pantry in Chicago were skeptical. The pantry puts canned goods, meat and bread in the plastic food bags it gives out. If carp were to make its way there, workers would include it with the meat, leaving people to figure out how to cook the fish on their own.

"I wouldn't eat it," Vincent Williams, 49, an unemployed former bank worker, said with a look of disgust on his face.

"Ugh, I don't know. I might," said Christopher Cain, 25, a former moving company worker.

This make you wonder if the definition of hunger in America needs to be amended. Is it really a question in most cases of people not having ANY food to eat? These examples of people willing to look a gift carp in the mouth certainly would raise doubts about that. I don't mean to diminish the problems of poverty and want here in the United States, but I gotta think that in much of the world you wouldn't have to sell a government program that provided people with free fish.