I threw out a few pounds of frozen fish yesterday. And I’m feeling a bit uneasy about it. Here’s the thing, I believe we should only consume fish (and shellfish) that are either raised by sustainable practices or wild-caught. And I won’t eat anything that’s been overfished or comes from a country or region or company that doesn’t follow sustainable practices as outlined by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.
Of course not everything is as black and white in the fishing industry as one would hope and making sure the fish I, you, we all consume is being fished for or farmed sustainably isn’t as cut and dry as one would think.
Recently, I read an extensive article published by one of the country’s top-three largest grocery store chains. In the article, the company claims to follow strict procedures when selecting its seafood and only buys from sources following sustainable practices. OK. Awesome. I thought … because although I usually buy seafood from a local fishmonger, sometimes I need the flexibility to hit the big store down the street. And sometimes, although I tend to buy what I’m going to cook within a day or two of actually cooking it (at least as far as seafood goes), it’s nice to be able to take something out of the freezer when I’m working with limited time. So, not all that long ago, I bought a prepackaged frozen bag of tilapia filets from the grocery … just to have on hand when I’m in a hurry.
Then yesterday … I took the bag out of the freezer, flipped it around, and read “PRODUCT OF CHINA.”
China, does not raise their fish sustainably. No way. No how. For all I know the contents might not even be tilapia and if it is, it may have been raised in waters that carry more toxins than the subway.
So I tossed it. All of it. Threw it in the garbage. Why? Because I cannot put food I don’t trust into my body. I just can’t. But here’s the uneasy part … there are starving people in this world and eating tilapia from China would be better than eating nothing at all. Or would it?
Therein lies the debate. And truthfully, I’m not sure which side I fall on. I’m fortunate that I have a choice. And fortunate to be able to educate myself … but not everyone has the “luxury” if you will, to throw food away—be it from China or elsewhere.
BTW, I checked the canned tuna in my pantry … “PRODUCT OF THAILAND.” What’s a mermaid to do?? Poseidon, are you reading this? We need to figure this out. ASAP.
Top photo Chinese fishing net near Kochi | Photo by Hans A. Rosbach