Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why you should be picky about seafood

When we get seafood, we try to restrict ourselves to ecologically-friendly varieties, using guides like the handy wallet-sized pamphlet from the Shedd Aquarium (pdf), or this one from the Blue Ocean Institute (now with sushi names!).

Most shrimp, for example, is pretty bad, as we see here. At least, when I've checked, most of the shrimp around here has turned out to be of the red-coloured varieties. Or the variety isn't specified, and I assume the worst. You can click around the links to find out why those varieties of shrimp are so bad. And if you want to learn more, there is a whole blog devoted to the issue of the badness of shrimp (and the volume of its consumption): Shrimp Suck.

Or maybe it's not worth the bother. Here's a confession: I've been lax in sticking to the standards of those happy seafood guides. I knew "red" meant "bad", but I didn't always stick to it. Not with respect to shrimp in particular, but some other things. (Long story short: two new sushi restaurants opened up in our neighbourhood.)

So never mind the text and stats; it's probably better just to take a look at this picture:

That handful of shrimp is the catch. The myriad critters underneath are the by-catch, which will be thrown back into the ocean, dead, like so:

I can't even stand to leave a single grain of rice in my bowl (a success for my mother). The thought of the amount of waste seen in those pictures makes me feel slightly ill. So now whenever I'm tempted to dip outside of the green column of my seafood guides, I'll just call those pictures to mind, and that should take care of it.

Aside from the dynamics of my personal appetite, the moral of the story is nicely summed up in the this Grist post, which is where I got the pictures from in the first place: "We're loving seafood -- and the seas -- to death."

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