Known as a swamp beaver and native to South America, the invasive rodent was originally brought to the United States for its fur. When the fur market collapsed, ranchers released thousands of nutria into the wild, where they have caused irreversible damage to marshes and wetlands, important natural water-filtering ecosystems. Found in 22 states, “nutes” are most prolific along the Gulf coast but also have taken hold in the Pacific Northwest and near Virginia Beach. If you’re hunting Nutria, be sure to remove the dark meat and use it as a straight substitute for chicken in any recipe that doesn’t require the meat on the bone, suggests Landers. “Lost of things taste like chicken, but nutria are one of the few animals I have run into that also have a texture identical to chicken,” he adds.
Supermarket Fix: If you’d like to stick to regular old chicken, be sure to buy organic to avoid meat grown using antibiotics and other medications.
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Photo: (cc) Ro Ng/Flickr