Saturday, March 14, 2009

Adventures in Sushi: Back off the Bluefin

I wrote this a while back for another blog, but I don't think they used it so I thought I'd share some of the helpful and interesting links.

Bluefin tuna are “Too valuable everywhere to be allowed to live anywhere,” Carl Safina in his article “Regulators Are Pushing Bluefin to the Brink.” Apparently a freshly killed giant bluefin is worth more than any other animal on the planet, including elephants and rhinos. He notes that a few years ago a single 444 pound fish sold wholesale in Japan for $173,600.
Bluefin populations are down by more than half in the Mediterranean and by more than 90 percent in the west Atlantic, but this “increasing rarity of bluefin—and escalating worldwide sushi madness—has only intensified fishing efforts.” Sad when we try to snap up an entire species like they’re the last Cabbage Patch dolls on the shelf.

An irony, as my friend Trevor Corson points out, both in his book The Story of Sushi, and also in this article, is that in traditional Japanese culture, tuna—especially the fatty parts—were considered unsuitable for sushi.

I’ve lately turned my back on tuna in favor of mackerel which is yummy and salty (like French fries, but different.) It’s not only eco-friendly according to the Environmental Defense Fund, but Spanish Mackerel (not king mackerel), is relatively low in mercury content. Sadly, this is not the case for either American or European eel, which their chart tells me I should eat zero times per month due to its high levels of mercury and PCBS. Oh, unagi, I loved you so. Hopefully I will find a satisfying alternative using this handy wallet size sushi selector.

1 comment:

  1. Or you can check out, order, or download the even cooler pocket guide to "Ocean-Friendly Sushi" I co-authored with the Blue Ocean Institute, which includes etiquette tips for eating at the sushi bar and a mini history of the meal.

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