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Eating Swamp Rats: Can Your Restaurant Be Too Green?

3. May 2013 17:23

swamp rat

In recent years, restaurants around the country have found success by “going green” in some aspect of their operations. Popular trends include serving organic foods (which don't use pesticides and therefore are considered “kinder” to the environment), locally grown foods (which use less fuel in transit), food grown in rooftop gardens, foraged foods, and meat from every part of an animal (which prevents waste).

While many of these trends have become more or less mainstream, other green trends still raise an eyebrow, including the practice of eating an animal known as the “swamp rat,” which some Louisiana residents have apparently taken to doing.

Can Being Too Green Increase Your Risk Profile?

One reason restaurant owners adopt trends (green or otherwise) is to increase revenue. But if you miscalculate and follow the wrong trend, the move can have exactly the opposite effect. Naturally, introducing a new product that drives away customers is not a good risk management strategy.

Here's why we mention it: in Louisiana, people have taken to eating an animal officially called the nutria, but colloquially called the “swamp rat.” These 20-pound rodents…

The state's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has called Louisiana residents to eat swamp rats as a way of helping protect the environment, and the FDA has given the nutria its stamp of approval.

Taste testers (you can view their video here) evaluated the meat as “okay,” though some recipes apparently bring out the virtues of swamp rat meat better than others. But the question remains: is putting “extreme green” cuisine on a menu a smart move for a restaurant?

Balancing Green Trends and Customer Expectations

The answer may depend on the people eating at your establishment. As you consider implementing the next green trend in your restaurant, be sure to consider the following risk management issues that may affect you outcomes…

know your business risks

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