"For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it's always ourselves we find in the sea." ~ee cummings
There is a huge global demand for seafood. It is now a common menu item and sushi is as popular as Arby's. This wasn't always the case. When I was a kid, seafood was not popular. Catholics weren't supposed to eat meat on Fridays, so some would opt for fish. My family came from an island, so we ate a lot of seafood, which was considered weird. Then at one point, I stopped eating meat and was a pescatarian for 20 years. The seas weren't yet overfished, cod hadn't collapsed, mercury wasn't in seafood, and people weren't enslaved to feed the global appetite.
Things seemed to have come full circle. I have stopped eating most seafood, except for easily farmed items like mussels and oysters. There was a time when I would just ask a lot of questions -- where was the seafood from? How was it caught? Is it sustainable?
Then the questions just weren't enough. First, certain fish types were collapsing. Cod, blue fin tuna, swordfish... We were overfishing our seas, and these huge fish couldn't reproduce fast enough to replace what we were eating. Second, all the pollution we create was finding its way back into the ocean and bioaccumulating as mercury in the fish we eat. 10% of women of childbearing age in the US have enough mercury in their systems to cause defects. Third, I noticed that there was a lot of fraud. Many restaurants (including sushi restaurants) and stores were labeling fish as a certain type, like snapper, and it wasn't! Outrageous. And the last straw? Fourth, there is such a huge global demand for fish that PEOPLE ARE BEING ENSLAVED to work in the fishing industry! This "lucky" man escaped after 22 years. The problem is that there isn't enough accountability, so if someone tells you that no slaves were involved in the fish they are serving, they just don't know. I don't need to eat fish that badly.
Not to mention that I started scuba diving, and the fish that we eat are beautiful in their natural habitat. A shoal of squid is a graceful, beautiful sight - nothing like what you see on your plates. But that's a digression.
What to do - Eat Seafood Responsibly
- Just avoid eating any seafood or
- Eat only seafood that can be farmed or fished locally and responsibly. Mussels are a safe bet.
- Don't feed pet food that contains seafood. Thailand supplies a lot of that fish, and that is where most slaves are used.
- Use the Seafood Watch guide and app to find the most sustainable seafood. Ask your server and fishmonger questions about sourcing and sustainability.
Want to read more?
- MindfulEats on Sustainable Sushi
- MindfulEats on Sustainable Seafood
- Natural Resources Defense Council Seafood Guide
What I ate: 15 oz green juice, 10 oz yogurt + blueberries + chia seeds, 2 peaches, portobella mushroom + arugula + queso arepa, 6 Korean vegetable dumplings, 2 peaches, 2 ears of corn, dried mangos, 50 oz water, 4 squares of dark chocolate
Exercise: jogged 4.5 miles