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Asian Carp, Illinois, and the Super Committee

110930_carpPhoto by Candie_N. on Flickr

I first learned about Asian carp when I stumbled upon this extraordinary video of folks in a small motor boat startling the fish, causing them to fly out of the water. (Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.)

As it turns out, carp are more than just viral video stars – they are also an invasive species that consume the plankton in the Great Lakes and require some population control measures from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The twist? With record high numbers of hunger and poverty in Illinois, the department has launched a campaign to encourage eating carp as a nutritional, healthy, and cheap meal, and is now trying to recruit local chefs to develop recipes with carp. In the coming months, food banks and soup kitchens would like to provide carp to the people they serve.

Annual state poverty data released last week shows record levels of poverty in our nation, with nearly 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, and 1.8 million people living in poverty in Illinois. While Illinois is considering measures such as harvesting carp from their lakes and rivers to feed people, other critical programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps), WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), and Medicaid are at risk of being cut during the budget debate. In the aftermath of the recession, many families are still struggling to survive, and people who never thought they would need help are finding themselves in line at food pantries for the first time. Right now, members of Congress and the Super Committee are looking for way to cut the deficit, but this is not the time to cut social safety net programs, as my colleague Amelia Kegan said earlier this week.

How is your state faring in this poor economy? Share your stories in the comments section below.

 

« Hunger in the News: Food Stamps. Immigration. Foreign Aid. David Beckmann on Hunger in Florida »

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