Eating cane toads a healthy choice - for you and the planet
IT SOUNDS like something out of that awful dining scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where the white Western heroes watched Indian aristocrats indulge in beetles and monkey's brains.
But instead of eating jungle fauna, a Southern Cross University professor is recommending we turn the kingpin of pests - the ever multiplying cane toad - into everyday dinner table fare.
It would make for a horror brief for a marketing agency, but Professor Philip Hayward said it could be done.
"If you extracted the meat and packaged it and called it something else it could be effective," he said.
"In Australia, you would have to process them in some way so it didn't look anything like the cane toad when you bought it because no one wants to buy a snap frozen cane toad.
"You could do 'fish' cakes or toad cakes or you could actually sell the pre-cooked legs as an hors d'oeuvre. You just need a bit of creative marketing."
It begs the question: Why?
Well, the idea hasn't come overnight. Prof Hayward has prepared a research paper outlining the case for a regulated cane toad industry.
It will be presented to the Regional Food Cultures and Networks Conference at Byron Bay this weekend.
One benefit: Cane toads, despite their notorious toxins, are "rich in protein" and "high in Omega 3".
And consuming the toads would be a sustainable industry purely because we'd be eating a pest that is multiplying of its own accord, so the best thing we could do is slow or stunt their growth rate.
"Cane toads are a harvestable asset that is not restricted by protection laws and/or by cultural reticence about culling and reducing the population," Prof Hayward said.
"They are therefore relatively cheap to gather."
The toads could even become a valuable export commodity for Australia, being shipped to South East Asia where people already eat frogs but have decimated their native population.
"There has been a marked reduction in frog numbers over the past few decades as a result of pollution, reduction in habitat and over-exploitation of remaining frog supply areas, meaning the Austral-ian toad populations are bucking a global trend," Prof Hayward said.
SAUTEED CANE TOAD LEGS
10 cane toad legs
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 bunches chopped coriander
¾ cup lemon juice
1 cup water
5 cloves garlic, minced
In a large, heavy skillet, fry the frog or chicken legs in the heated oil until browned.
In a separate saucepan combine the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for five to 10 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the cane toad legs.
Transfer to a lightly oiled baking pan at 180 degrees or 15 minutes.
SOURCE: ABC Katherine