Photo credit: Rick Moonen/RM Seafood
If you love seafood, the six weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter is likely one of your favorite times of the year. It doesn’t hurt that restaurants, fish markets and grocery stores are awash with Lenten promotions, resulting in the most profitable period for seafood sales.
So why not use this time to get out of your comfort zone? Put down the tuna and salmon and try something new; the seafood market has an abundance of options. Additionally, consumers are seeking out local and sustainable seafood like never before, representing some of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry for the past several years.
But which fish are the best to buy? Tools like EDF’s mobile Seafood Selector and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app are great ways to have sustainable seafood recommendations at your fingertips. Some fish pundits like Chef Alton Brown – host of Good Eats and other programs on the Food Network – go so far as to encourage consumers to ignore all the labels and just “Buy American.” In the absence of definitive information, this might be your best option. However, it’s usually a good bet that your fishmonger or server can tell you where their fish is from. Read More
Environmental Defense Fund recently released the latest version of its popular Seafood Selector, a tool to help make consumers aware of critical ocean conservation issues through the fish that they and their families eat. Today I want to take a moment to remember what life was like in 2001, when our first version came out as a small black-and-white paper cutout in the organization's quarterly member newsletter. (I know it’s hard to believe, but most people still received their environmental news by snail mail back in those days).
Back then, most people still didn’t have cell phones, and those that did just kept them in their gloveboxes for emergencies. I was a graduate student at the University of Hawaii, studying shark ecology and physiology. Even as a young marine biologist, I was largely unaware of the impacts of our personal choices on the health of the oceans.
Raising consumer awareness of ocean conservation issues was no easy task 12 years ago – and is still a challenge today – given the complexity of how most fish makes it to our plates. For example, here are some interesting facts you might not know about the U.S. seafood market: Read More
By Kristen Honey, EDF Lorry Lokey Fellow
Are sardines making a sustainable and sumptuous comeback? The Washington Post attempted to address this very question yesterday in a provocative article about the self-proclaimed “Sardinistas.” According to this group of nutritionists, environmentalists and foodie revolutionaries, the answer is a resounding “yes!” Sardine advocates and cutting-edge green chefs like Dean Gold and David Myers are bringing this smelly canned food out of the cob-webbed cabinet corner and back into the kitchen in innovative new ways. Or they are trying to, at least.
Just recently, I had the privilege of attending a private luncheon with the Sardinistas at filmmaker Mark Shelley’s Sea Studios Foundation on Monterey’s Cannery Row. The purpose of this luncheon was to highlight their recent efforts to promote sardines as a delicious and sustainable seafood choice. What struck me was their point that while Americans love eating tuna and other steak-like fish, we need to eat fish farther down the food chain (like sardines) to help alleviate pressure at the top.
After talking shop, we had the chance to eat delectable canned, frozen and fresh sardine dishes by renowned chef Alton Brown of The Food Network! If you don’t take my word for how tasty these creatures can be, try out for yourself these sardine-centric recipes for Sarde Arrosto (Griddle Roasted Sardines), Stuffed Sardines and Vuido (widowed potatoes).
I was pleased that the group tied in the tastings with a bit of history, noting that Cannery Row was once considered the sardine Mecca of the U.S. in the late 1930s. However, by the 1950s the sardine population was severely depleted due to poor fishery management that didn’t take into account natural ocean cycles.
The tides have changed (no oceans pun intended) for these cute little guys and today EDF’s Seafood Selector rates Pacific sardines as an “eco-best fish.” Their re-emergence was no accident; the sardine fishery is now managed in a sustainable way, with fishing quotas at one-tenth of what they were during the 1930s. So listen to your curious, daring taste-buds and eat some sardines for a change – not only do all those omega-3 fatty acids improve your health, but you are doing a service to the planet.