Monday, November 14, 2011

Sustainable Seafood: Buyer Beware!

Yesterday I was at the store and I saw this sign.

I thought it was a little funny, because I'd been standing there on my phone, checking Seafood Watch to see if I should buy any of the fish in the bin.

No. No I should not. Not a single package in the bin was recommended as a "Best Choice" or "Good Alternative" by Seafood Watch. It was all listed as "Avoid."

Now I realize that the sign doesn't say, "Hey! In this bin here! Seafood that won't make you wake up in the middle of the night wracked with guilt!" It says that somewhere in the store is some sustainable seafood. Maybe not even in this store. Just in the chain of stores.

However, I think many people would assume, since the sign was next to a big freezer full of fish, that it was indicating THOSE fish. And most people probably don't know that you can't just look at the name of the fish on a package to see if it's sustainable. You also have to check where it was farmed. There are several kinds of fish that are sustainable if farmed in the US, not as sustainable if farmed in Asia.

And while we're talking fish, let's talk about "wild-caught." Wild-caught implies a happy little fish frolicking in a stream until your Uncle Ben, wearing hip waders, catches it with the fly he tied while sitting on the porch after church. However, wild-caught also does not mean sustainable. You've just gotta know for sure.

So what can you do? Well, the Seafood Watch app is now available for the iPhone and Android, or you can simply visit the website and download a printable pocket guide. And don't forget to read those labels carefully before you buy.

Or better yet, just get Uncle Ben to bring over some of the fish he caught ... after you check to make sure that it wasn't living in contaminated waters... .

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