In a weird way, lionfish are kind of adorable. From their mane to their stripes to their little unicorn horn, you might be inclined to think that lionfish are good little pets. Oh, but actually, they’re a highly destructive invasive species who breed like crazy, have venomous spines, destroy the environment and resources of native fish, hurt like hell when stepped on, and, because of their high population, are turning into friggin’ cannibals. Yikes.
However, according to Civil Eats, Whole Foods is looking to turn this invasive fish into an edible fish. In the next six months, Whole Foods is expected to start selling lionfish at the counter in their West Coast locations. Eventually, the chain hopes to expand the sale of lionfish to all of its 431 stores.
The way Whole Foods chooses to source its seafood is actually based on sustainability ratings for fish buyers to help make eco-conscious choices that protect the oceans. The scores are given by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which gave lionfish a “Best Choice” rating (there are tons of them and, unlike so many fish, population is growing out of control. Which is great, considering that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been begging people to eat lionfish and help get rid of them.
You may wonder how people are going to fillet a fish that happens to have a spiky, venomous spine. (And Whole Foods is probably asking themselves the same thing right now.) Never fear: Lad Adkins from the Reef Environmental Education Foundation is here to help.
After you fillet it, there are unlimited options on how you can actually eat the thing. Apparently it’s really good in ceviche, blackened, or even deep-fried. Diners claim that it tastes like snapper. In fact, only one restaurant in New York City sells it, and according to the chefs, demand is through the roof.
So perhaps, with Whole Foods’ decision to start stocking the menace-beast at its seafood counter, along with the fact that the properly-prepared lionfish fillet is apparently delicious, we can start a food trend that actually helps the environment instead of harming it.