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This Is Why You're Seeing More Wild Boar On Menus Lately

It's not just delicious; the wild boar meat trade is helping save local wetlands and wildlife

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Local restaurants, like Emeril’s Delmonico, are embracing wild boar on their menus since Two Run Farms founder Charlie Munford made it available in a move that state officials hope more slaughterhouses will adopt. Munford started attacking Louisiana’s wild boar problem by butchering and selling the hogs to Louisiana chefs under his Springfield Slaughterhouse endeavor, reports the Associated Press. The iron-rich meat is far from the “other white meat” from the 1980s era pork ad campaign touted.

According to the report,

Customers include some top chefs. [Rene] Bajeux* makes about 80 pounds of wild boar bacon every week for weekend brunches and offers a variety of other dishes such as wild boar stew and chili. One recent day, his chillers held wild boar sausage and cold cuts including salami, coppa, and prosciutto-like speck.

Emeril's Delmonico makes wild boar meatballs served with caponata, chef de cuisine Anthony Scanio said. Like Bajeux, he also makes wild boar charcuterie, often used in specials.

The slaughterhouse’s wild boar offerings include “20-pound boxes of primal cuts such as hams, shoulders, and bellies for sale to restaurants. More than half the business is sausages, which are sold to grocery stores.”

According to a report, wild pigs cost Louisiana more than $76 million in annual damage in Louisiana and $1.5 billion in damage nationwide each year. The invasive species spread from 17 states to 36 states between 1982 and 2012. They are known for “gobbling crops, competing with local wildlife and ripping up levees, fragile wetlands and other green spaces.” Though the slaughterhouse offers a productive way of dealing with the hogs, it is only takes a small bite out of the problem. According to the report, “Authorities say 70 percent of the population would have to be killed each year just to keep the numbers from growing.” There are 600,000 feral hogs in Louisiana.

About 20 years ago, there was a similar effort to get nutria on the menu in Louisiana, which proved a much tough sell. “People love pork already, but the same cannot be said for nutria, which look a bit like rat-tailed beavers.” [Associated Press]

*This report has been updated to correct an error. We mistakenly said that Rene Bajeaux had left Dickie Brennan for NOSH.

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