Monday, January 5, 2009

Aussies say go green: eat camels, 'roos

Save the Earth, eat a camel (or kangaroo).

That's the message from Australian scientists who think that eating the two animals would be an excellent way to help the environment in Australia (and in the case of the kangaroo for the rest of the world as well). It turns out that bovine digestive gas expulsions (otherwise known as cow farts and burps) make up a significant chunk of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, kangaroos, on the other hand, are apparently far less, um, gassy - venting only small amounts of polluting gas. While it may sound silly, scientists have come to realize that cattle pass a lot of methane gas as they digest their food, those methane emissions go into the atmosphere, adding to the global warming problem (some farms have even launched test projects to recapture that now-wasted gas and use it to produce power). So by switching to a "cleaner burning" livestock (kangaroos), scientists in Oz figure they can reduce the country's greenhouse gas footprint.

The reason for putting camels on the menu is a little different. Australia happens to be home to one of the world's largest populations of wild camels, a remarkable feat considering that the animals aren't even native to the continent. In the 19th century camels were imported to Australia to work as beasts of burden in the hot, dry Outback region. It turns out they were a little too well suited to the climate, and a few escapees have blossomed into a population estimated at over one million animals today. Unfortunately a million non-native animals running around the Outback is having a terrible effect on the local ecosystem. Culling the camel population, scientists say, is the best way to protect the Outback ecology and suggest that eating them is better than just letting them rot in the desert.

Both camels and kangaroos have been used as food in parts of the world for thousands of years. Turning them into livestock in Australia though poses some problems - kangaroos are not domesticated (like cows) and don't take well to traveling, making shipping them alive a problem, while the feral camel population tends to live in extremely remote parts of the Outback, so getting them to market would be a costly and difficult process.

But there’s certain logic to the suggestion. And for you adventurous foodies out there, the folks at the site Food Down Under have 56 recipes for kangaroo (including Aussie Kangaroo Pie and Char-Broiled Kangaroo with Pancetta), I was even able to track down one recipe for camel.

Bon Appetit!
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1 comment:

lyndenf said...

Let's see: kill camels becauase there are too many and kill yet more roos because their farts are healthier than cows' farts are. Ignoring the fact that roo meat is viewed with abhorrence by Aussies (used for pet food) and we certainly won't eat camel. Also: very little meat on a roo; the intolerable cruelty involved (gutshot animals and dependent joeys just left to die), and the fuel used to hunt the poor things to shoot them. Farming or transporting them for slaughter is impossible.
Yep, great idea!