Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Eating Aliens

I can't recall a more striking book transition than that of 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Known By The Time She's 30 and Eating Aliens by Jackson Landers. Even the verbosity of the titles suggests a big switcharoo is ahead.

Eating Aliens turned out to be an absolute page turner about one man's quest to hunt and eat invasive species. It starts off with a bang, as you join the author on a graphically depicted hunt for a black spiney tailed iguana, along with an equally graphic description of preparing one for a meal. It was just the dose of Man Reading I needed after pondering the challenges women go through when they turn that serious age of 30.

Had the book been nothing more than a romp through the woods (or, Florida subdivisions, in the case of hunting iguanas), it would have been fun enough. But, it turns out it was much more. It was an education on invasive species and how they develop, a view into the ethical world of hunting for one's food and one heck of a road trip described by a talented writer. Landers has a sort of humility that lets him get in over his head, and at times fail to meet his goals, yet you want to root for him the whole way.

Landers' ultimate goal is quite admirable: he wants to educate the world that invasive species do have a solution. Us. If instead of lamenting the overpopulation of Canadian Geese, for example, we decided we could eat them, the result would be an animal population returned to correct levels and more people with full bellies. It's a message so simple and so powerful, it's amazing that it's not already the norm. Can one man trigger a revolution to eat our way out of invasive species? Not sure, but if anyone can, it's Jackson Landers.

As an entrepreneur, I'm struck at the simple path Landers has outlined towards a successful and environmentally beneficial business. 1) Find an invasive species. 2) Market it. 3) Get rich. 4) Help fix the environment. How can you argue with that?

In fact, a quick search of invasive species in Arlington VA turns up a reference to English Ivy. Another Google search, and you realize that English Ivy has a number of important health benefits. Why not collect, process and sell the stuff as a business? Sure, there are no doubt countless roadblocks to doing this. But that's the case with any idea. But how many ideas can have such a positive impact by their execution alone?

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