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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Better choices on the menu

  • It happened again. I was in a restaurant with friends, and we were looking at the menu, trying to figure out what to order. Seafood is always the most appealing to me. That is when I am always hit with the dilemma – what is the ecologically right choice to make?

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  • It happened again. I was in a restaurant with friends, and we were looking at the menu, trying to figure out what to order. Seafood is always the most appealing to me. That is when I am always hit with the dilemma – what is the ecologically right choice to make?
    What if I order a fish that is actually very threatened? The tilapia special sounded great – but, I thought that I have heard that tilapia is threatened.
    Innocently enough (and sometimes not), restaurants, groceries and specialty shops all carry fish, shellfish and other seafood that has been overfished to the point of threatening the entire fish population. According to One World One Ocean, which seeks to inspire a grassroots movement to protect and restore the oceans: “In 2010, the Atlantic bluefin tuna catch limit was set by international regulators at 30 million pounds. Actual trade was 72 million pounds, according to a Pew study, and almost no enforcement action was taken.”
    On almost any list you may find, bluefin tuna – commonly used in sushi – is the most overfished species. The five most overfished species are bluefin tuna, Atlantic salmon, Chilean sea bass, black tiger shrimp and red snapper. We are simply loving our seafood to death.
    The good news is that there are choices – relatively easy ones to live with – that can both satisfy our craving for good seafood and our desire to live more Green. There are tuna, salmon, bass, shrimp, and snapper choices that are good for the ecological system and good for us. The fish we choose just needs to come from a different place than what is being overfished.
    The trick is to become an informed consumer. Does this mean the weight is on your shoulders? Will you have to carry the burden of making good, sound ecological choices when at a restaurant or the seafood counter at the grocery? Well, yes. It also means you may have to talk to your friends and family whom you are dining with, and the manager at the store, too.
    At the restaurant, I was in a quandary over the tilapia. One of our friends said, “So what. If that is what you want, you should get it.”
    I was pretty amazed someone would actually have so little regard for how their actions can impact the world but just chalked it up to ignorance. I said a few words about the overfishing dilemma, but he still did not get it.
    Once I got home, I looked up tilapia. It turns out that farmed tilapia from China and Taiwan should be avoided. But, farmed tilapia from the United States is the best choice, and farmed tilapia from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Honduras is a good alternative.
    Because there are so many sources of fish and other seafood, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has developed a wonderful seafood guide – Seafood Watch – that can be viewed, downloaded and printed. It also has a smart phone app. It tells you what seafood to avoid, the best choices available and good alternatives. Now that I have downloaded the phone app, I can order at a restaurant with a clear conscience and whetted appetite!
    Page 2 of 2 - I hope you take the time to either download the phone app or print out the pocket guide. Go to www.montereybayaquarium.org and click Seafood Watch. These are wonderful ways to help you make smart choices while still being able to enjoy a renewable resource. Let’s just keep it that way – renewable, that is!
    Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.
     
     
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