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Gefilte Fish: The solution to world peace and Asian carp?

Josh Mogerman

Posted February 27, 2010

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Gefilte Fish with Carrots by PlayswithFood via Flickr

I did a double take to make sure I wasn’t reading The Onion when I saw an AP article about Asian carp and gefilte fish in the Washington Post this week. For the uninitiated, gefilte fish are ground up fish cakes that pop up on dinner tables for Jewish holidays---kinda like hamburgers packed in gooey gelatin. Often, one of the main ingredients is carp, so it is no surprise that a fishery pulling tons of invasive Asian carp out of the Illinois River would be looking to cash in.

Gefilte fish will be in high demand during the coming Passover holiday, so Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been asked to step in to help resolve a tariff issue that is holding up the transfer of nine containers of Asian carp fillets from Illinois to Israel. Hillary is taking on the challenge and chuckling all the way. So are writers dusting off their limited Yiddish repertoire (I am fighting the urge).

But hey, this is exciting right? Unleash the Jewish palette on the Asian carp and problem solved. We do like to eat…

Except, if you look around my family’s Passover table, its clear Gefilte fish isn’t the solution. I love the stuff---but the cold, sort of gritty and gooey texture is a real turnoff for many. I’d guess half of the guests at my last Seder turned their noses away from the stuff.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be yanking the Asian carp out of our rivers every chance we get. They are a dangerous invasive species. They don’t belong here. And as long as they threaten the Great Lakes we have to take every action that will help to minimize the propagule pressure on the fish to move into our freshwater seas.

But Gefilte fish isn’t the solution.

Nor is promoting Asian carp meat to a hungry public.

It is attractive to imply that we simply unleash our dinner plates on the problem and I’ve seen it suggested by politicos who don’t want to do the hard work it will take to protect 1/5 of the world’s fresh water. But we cannot eat enough of these things fast enough to eliminate the very real threat to the Great Lakes. And, as I’ve blogged before, creating a market for these fish also creates a community with a financial incentive to keep them around. The number one rule of a fishery is to keep the population just big enough for tasty species to persist and breed so that you can pull out more tomorrow.

To paraphrase one of “the four questions” from Passover: Why is this fish different from all others?

Because we need to eradicate them.

Waiting for America’s taste to change (and Israeli fish factories), just won’t get it done. In order to avoid an Asian carp exodus from our rivers into the Great Lakes, we need to fix our policies and crumbling infrastructure to permanently ensure that invasive fish like the Asian carp can no longer move between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Anything else is just satire…worthy of The Onion…



Gefilte Fish with Carrots image by PlaysWithFood via Flickr

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Barbary PirateMar 5 2010 08:51 AM

So Israel isn't putting up with anymore carp from the United States?

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