So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

By Guest Blogger Liz Layton, GIC

Have you ever gone to a petting zoo and then explained to a kid over lunch just where burgers come from?  No, of course you haven’t.  Because you know you’d have to rewrite your entire menu to exclude animals that your kids find cute.  And frankly, who has the time? 

So you might understandably be a little resistant at the suggestion that you plan an outing to the New England Aquarium, where you can learn about sustainable fishing.  Actually, the program is advertised as Celebrate Seafood, which implies cheering your finny friends as they swim around.  After which you go to out dinner and eat them.  (I could be wrong of course – maybe all this talk about eating living creatures is making you downright squeamish, in which case please email us and ask that we post some very good vegetarian recipes.)

Maybe you’re intent on making your diet healthier by including fish, or someone in your family just loves to fish.  Health care providers still recommend eating fish, especially saltwater fish, twice a week.  Omega-3 fatty acids in seafood have lots of benefits including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, alleviating arthritis, and improving immunity and brain function. The idea is to balance our need for a healthy diet with our need for healthy oceans and a sustainable fish population. 

Quick quiz:  which of these recipes would you not want to serve to your sustainable-fish-loving Aunt Tillie?

Southern Red Snapper
Traditional Maine Baked Stuffed Haddock
Healthy Mussels
Citrus Orange Roughy
Blackened Catfish
Broiled Striped Bass
Pan-seared Swordfish

If you wouldn’t think of putting orange roughy or red snapper in front of her, good for you.  But the others can be a little tricky.  She might look down her nose at the delicious platter of pan-seared swordfish steaks and demand to know how and where they were caught.  Should you answer “these fish were netted in the Mediterranean” or “these were harpooned in the North Atlantic”?  Depending on whether or not you’re in her will, you might want to study up.  Sure, it takes a little learning on your part but isn’t that why we send our kids off to school every day?

The list of sustainable fish is not static, and depending on who’s reporting you may find conflicting ideas on what should be on the list. Farmed fish that’s advertised as sustainable may still be anathema to people who think that GMO corn should not be fed to any farm animals, whether they have hooves or fins.  Swordfish was taboo a couple of decades ago but now is back on the list, thanks to changes in fishing regulations and methods that allowed the population to recover. 

I was hoping that the New England Aquarium gift shop might have a deck of sustainable fish cards, kind of a concentration game that would also teach me the best fish to serve.  The aquarium doesn’t have the cards but does provide a list of good fish choices to simplify your shopping.  The aquarium also teamed up with local restaurants to create sustainable Blue Plate Specials – look for the logo, or ask if the restaurant serves sustainable fish.  Then you can eat guilt-free – and ask Aunt Tillie to pick up the check.

Who’s watching the fish?

http://www.fishwatch.gov/

http://www.bwfa-usa.org/

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/recipes/

Who’s watching what we eat?

http://www.fish2fork.com/en.aspx

http://www.consciouscooking.com/atlantic-salmon-healthy-or-not/

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