August 7, 2007

Ocean of Confusion

Strolling through the store over the weekend with the kids, I had a request from my 4 year old for tuna. Not canned tuna, a tuna steak. The usual fish of choice at home is salmon so I don’t know where she got this idea from. I threw the package of frozen Albacore Tuna from Singapore into the basket, because how could I deny a perfectly legitimate request? And then the little voice in the back of my head started talking:

Is that fish safe?
Is it sustainable? How can it be at $5/lb?
How do I explain this to a 4 year old?
Hey, it’s not from China, so there’s a good chance it’s not ridden with chemicals…

Sometimes I long to live when the food options were really simple. White or whole wheat. Chicken or beef. Jello or pudding. We know too much now. It makes my head spin, and I consider myself a somewhat informed consumer.

I decided to check the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list after the fact. It's a fabulous list that expects a LOT out of the shopper. Was that fish line caught or troll caught? Where was it caught? Is it wild or farmed? If you are lucky, you will be able to answer two out of three of those questions. My albacore tuna, not from Hawaii or British Columbia, ended up on the -AVOID- list for the following reason:

… longlining is the most common method used to catch albacore worldwide. This fishing method results in the bycatch of threatened or endangered sea turtles, sharks and seabirds in large numbers.

If I had known it beforehand, I would have looked for another option. It wouldn't have meant swearing off tuna altogether, there are 3 other -GOOD- tuna options (for albacore alone). It might have meant going to another store and paying more, or choosing the easy wild salmon. More and more, the payoff of knowing we are eating something sustainable is outweighing the convenience of throwing the unknown into my cart.

1 comment:

Kelly Mahoney said...

Thanks for the tip. You can't be too safe these days, especially with fish.