Asian Carp slowly growing in popularity as table fare - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Asian Carp slowly growing in popularity as table fare

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WSIL -- The push to make an invasive fish become more popular at the dinner table continues in Illinois, and it's gaining ground. 

Large populations of Asian Carp infest most major waterways across the state, except for Lake Michigan. They've disrupted the Mississippi, Ohio, and Big Muddy rivers ecosystems and threaten native fish.

Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti announced last week a new partnership between the state of Illinois and the state of Louisiana, designed to find a market to eat Asian Carp.

"You're dealing with a crisis, so you have to think outside of the box," explained Sanguinetti. 

Two Rivers Fishery in Wickliffe, Kentucky has found that market. Opening in 2012, they catch and process Asian Carp out of the rivers and ship them overseas.

"So far, since we started, we processed 6 million pounds already," said Angie Yu, Two Rivers Fishery president. "We exported them all. We ship to 11 countries."

Two Rivers hopes to double production this year and also search for an American market.

Up the road in Carbondale, The Neighborhood Co-Op began selling Asian Carp, also known as silver fin, about a year ago. Processed, packaged, and reasonably priced.

"People love it," said Any Dion, branding manager at Neighborhood Co-Op. "It's a very easy fish to cook. It's got health benefits. It's actually really inexpensive. It runs under our co-op basics program which is a budget friend program."

Despite the progress with removing the negative stigma, both Dion and Yu agree, it comes down to one thing.

"I think it's more about education and to teach our customers that it's a healthy option and to not be afraid of it," explained Dion.  

"Tasting is believing.," said Yu. "It you taste it, I think people need educated. They will like this. They will like carp."

May be the solution is just that simple. 

Asian carp have the highest content of Omega 3 fatty acids per gram among fresh-water fish. Many people assume they're like Common Carp, which are bottom feeders. Asian carp are top-water filter feeders, meaning they're a healthy clean source of protein.

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