We have to eat them in order to save them

Paul Raven @ 11-05-2008

Sable antelopeNothing kick-starts my Monday like some over-the-top provocative contrarian thinking. So, how fortunate to come across this report on conservation scientist Paul Nabhan, who suggests that the best thing we could do to prevent rare species going extinct is to start eating them.

First thing to note is that he’s not talking about snow leopards or pandas or anything like that. He’s talking about what he calls “heritage foods” – animals and plants that were once staples of regional diets but which have fallen out of favour in the kitchen, and are near to extinction as a result. [image by Arno & Louise]

Second thing to note is that Nabhan has a new book on the market.

Now, while Nabhan’s point is interesting in its own right, I find myself more interested in the results of the rhetorical approach. Look at the MetaFilter comments thread about this article, and see how many of the commenters have simply extrapolated the worst possible scenario from the headline without bothering to read the article. Is it worth using contrarian tactics to stimulate debate, or is it just another way of making a noise about a new product?

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