Expansion event highlights tasty ways to help feed Illinois families and manage Asian carp threat
CHICAGO, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and partner Feeding Illinois are hosting hundreds of children, adults and families who will experience how delicious Asian carp can be when prepared simply and correctly during an event at Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School in Chicago this afternoon. The event is the first ‘Target Hunger Now!’ program to showcase Asian carp throughout Illinois.
“We want people to know how good this fish can taste and how it can be prepared easily,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Our ‘Target Hunger Now!’ program is developing ways to serve Asian carp that are threatening our waterways and using these fish to make nutritious dishes for Illinois families.”
The goal of today’s ‘Target Hunger Now!’ event is to start to change the perception of Asian carp in Illinois and the United States. Creating demand for Asian carp, from food banks to grocery stores, is essential to encourage the fishing and processing of Asian carp by industry. Changing the reputation of Asian carp will help drive up demand and encourage a market for Asian carp as a food resource.
The IDNR is hosting the ‘Target Hunger Now!’ event this week to showcase Asian carp’s possibilities using the culinary skills and recipes of famed Baton Rouge, Louisiana chef Philippe Parola as he prepares simple and delicious meals for families. The chef will be assisted by culinary students from Southern Illinois University.
“It’s time to change the perception of Asian carp in Illinois and throughout the United States. I have worked with this fish for many years and can say without a doubt it is delicious and easy to use when prepared properly,” said Chef Philippe Parola.
Asian carp is a popular fish in European and Asian markets. Unlike native, bottom-feeding carp in the U.S., Asian carp is a clean fish that feeds on plankton and algae in the upper water columns of rivers. While in Beijing this week as part of his ongoing trade mission to China, Governor Pat Quinn hosted a luncheon for graduates of the University of Illinois at which Asian carp was featured prominently on the menu. A local chef prepared the carp imported from Illinois, which is popular among Asian diners. The event in Illinois is intended to change Asian carp’s reputation for being cumbersome by demonstrating that it can in fact be easily used to make healthy, flavorful meals.
Participants in the event include the IDNR ‘Target Hunger Now!’ program, Feeding Illinois, and State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th District).
“This mission continues to be a win-win for local communities across the entire state of Illinois. I am excited to support this program to help eradicate Asian carp from Illinois waters to protect valuable shipping and sport fishing industries in our state. Taking a natural supply away from a place where it’s not needed in a respectable way to use as a resource for the good of humanity is a great example of what Illinois is doing to help improve the lives of others. During the state’s budget problems and cuts to services, the Asian carp is a natural supply that is helping to offer meals to those in need during these difficult times. I encourage everyone to learn more and consider supporting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and this mission,” said Rep. Ford.
‘Target Hunger Now!’ is the IDNR-managed humanitarian effort that accepts donations of Asian carp and hunter-harvested deer for processing and distribution to food banks and charitable organizations throughout Illinois.
‘Target Hunger Now!’ has hosted successful events and provided meals in several communities throughout Illinois. Using donated deer meat as the primary protein food source, venison tacos were served to over 2,000 needy children and families over the past year.
“Feeding Illinois is excited about the work of this innovative program to encourage the donation of deer and Asian carp for processing into healthy, ready-to-serve meals,” said Feeding Illinois State Director Tracy Smith. “We know that there is a need for this product since affordable, high-quality proteins are in demand as food costs rise.”
The IDNR is working on a variety of fronts with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee to eradicate the threat posed by non-native Asian carp and prevent them from establishing a population in the Great Lakes.
“While many new markets are being created for Asian carp, ‘Target Hunger Now!’ is a valuable way to showcase the use of this fish,” IDNR Director Miller added. “We hope to increase the harvesting, processing and distribution of millions of pounds of protein-rich fish that will help feed Illinois citizens while creating and protecting Illinois jobs.”