More Americans Eating ... Guinea Pigs

They've long been popular food in some South American countries

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 4, 2013 9:19 AM CDT | Updated Apr 7, 2013 11:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – New Mexico is thinking about processing horse meat. Montanans have roadkill. And now the latest in offbeat meat appears to be ... guinea pigs. NPR reports on an American trend fueled by South American expats and the US restaurants that serve such cuisine, and bolstered by foodies' penchant for trying—and blogging about—something new. Called cuyes in Spanish, the two-pound creatures are typically purchased hairless and frozen and prepared whole via grill or deep fryer. They can be consumed "literally from head to toe," reports NPR (one restaurateur describes the nose as particularly tasty); fans of the roasted rodent say they're tasty, tender, and oily.

But it's not all about taste for proponents, who say eating guinea pigs is an environmentally conscious move. The petite animals have a much smaller carbon footprint than cattle, and while it takes, say, eight pounds of hay to make a pound of beef, it only take four to make a pound of guinea pig meat. And, bonus, you don't need a farm to raise this supper: "Guinea pigs don't require the land that cattle do," said one science writer. "They can be kept in backyards, or in your home." A "herd" of two males and 20 females can sustainably provide meat to a family of six.

A woman stands behind a typical Guinea pig dish during the Guinea pig food festival in Huacho, Peru, Sunday, July 20, 2008.
A woman stands behind a typical Guinea pig dish during the Guinea pig food festival in Huacho, Peru, Sunday, July 20, 2008.   (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Two Guinea pigs, wearing Peruvian local dresses, are displayed during the Guinea pig food festival in Huacho, Peru, Sunday, July 20, 2008.
Two Guinea pigs, wearing Peruvian local dresses, are displayed during the Guinea pig food festival in Huacho, Peru, Sunday, July 20, 2008.   (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Guinea pigs have long been popular food in some South American countries
Guinea pigs have long been popular food in some South American countries   (?)
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