Jump to content

Sustainable Agriculture and Seafood


mdt
 Share

Recommended Posts

An interesting article in today's Post about Barton Seaver only serving sustainable fish at his new place, Hook.

I think it would be a good idea to get a list of places that are serving the good fish. What are the other places around town doing this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An interesting article in today's Post about Barton Seaver only serving sustainable fish at his new place, Hook.

I think it would be a good idea to get a list of places that are serving the good fish. What are the other places around town doing this?

sablefish is rated "abundant" and coming ashore in restaurants all over the place, though maybe not from a sustainable fishery. i don't know if it's in the story, but the literature at hook directs you to www.blueocean.org and you can at least find out species that have been overfished (groupers, orange roughy, chilean sea bass and atlantic bluefin tuna) and those creating serious environmental impacts (farmed salmon).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I worked on the Hill, the Audubon Society handed this out to staffers. I've had it in my purse ever since. I've actually politely asked restaurants where certain fish come from. Generally, I get a blank stare from waitstaff unless it's at a place like Oceannaire.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Separate from the policies and politics of fisheries, I have long found it really interesting how consumers utilize information on "sustainability" with regards to fish consumption. From relying on guides from various interest groups (with or without knowing what assumptions or guidelines they use when developing the guides), to country of origin labeling, to harvesting techniques.

Do you distinguish between a stock where overfishing is occurring and one that is overfished but not experiencing further overfishing because it is under a rebuilding plan? Do you distinguish between gear types in a fishery and does it matter if the fishery is at a sustainable level? Do you have a preference for owner/operator vessels vs. corporate vessels which may not be the same thing as a day boat vs. a multi-day boat vs. a factory trawler? In all of these and other factors, there tends to be a spectrum of fact and opinion.

My own little quirk having worked in the fish game was port of landing because there were certain fishing groups, generally geographically organized, that I just couldn't stand working in. Sort of like not going back to a restaurant because of disdainful service. I suppose in a few more years I'll have to drop those grudges as they will be on to the next generation of fish leaders.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Separate from the policies and politics of fisheries, I have long found it really interesting how consumers utilize information on "sustainability" with regards to fish consumption. From relying on guides from various interest groups (with or without knowing what assumptions or guidelines they use when developing the guides), to country of origin labeling, to harvesting techniques.

Do you distinguish between a stock where overfishing is occurring and one that is overfished but not experiencing further overfishing because it is under a rebuilding plan? Do you distinguish between gear types in a fishery and does it matter if the fishery is at a sustainable level? Do you have a preference for owner/operator vessels vs. corporate vessels which may not be the same thing as a day boat vs. a multi-day boat vs. a factory trawler? In all of these and other factors, there tends to be a spectrum of fact and opinion.

My own little quirk having worked in the fish game was port of landing because there were certain fishing groups, generally geographically organized, that I just couldn't stand working in. Sort of like not going back to a restaurant because of disdainful service. I suppose in a few more years I'll have to drop those grudges as they will be on to the next generation of fish leaders.

Well now, this is EXACTLY why some of us on this site wait for you to chime in. Being our "fisheries" expert and all. I realize that you work for the gummint (either state or federal, whatever) and have to temper your remarks; yet and still you are on the frontlines of this subject and are speaking to a very interested audience. Is there some way you can tell us YOUR truth in some sort of non-esoteric manner us non-experts can understand???

I need to know what I can buy in the stores and prepare at home and what I can order in a restaurant. (From what I have read, the farmed mussels and soft-shell crabs are good to go. Are you going to break my heart? Oh, and not to mention, the farmed Rainbow Trout???)

OR, is everybody missing the boat on sustainable seafood????

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well now, this is EXACTLY why some of us on this site wait for you to chime in. Being our "fisheries" expert and all. I realize that you work for the gummint (either state or federal, whatever) and have to temper your remarks; yet and still you are on the frontlines of this subject and are speaking to a very interested audience. Is there some way you can tell us YOUR truth in some sort of non-esoteric manner us non-experts can understand???

I need to know what I can buy in the stores and prepare at home and what I can order in a restaurant. (From what I have read, the farmed mussels and soft-shell crabs are good to go. Are you going to break my heart? Oh, and not to mention, the farmed Rainbow Trout???)

OR, is everybody missing the boat on sustainable seafood????

Keep in mind, I only eat crustaceans (purely a taste thing, not a comment on sustainability) so I haven't really had to cover a wide range of seafood choices.

Also keep in mind, this is personal opinion so it is a blend of information and preference.

I would like to patronize owner/operators in fisheries the same way I would prefer to shop at producers only farmers markets. I'd pick a multi-vessel small company over large corporate fishery the same way I'd pick a local restaurant group over a national chain. This has as much, if not more, to do with socioeconomics as with ecological considerations. I'd like to see working waterfronts have a fighting chance at survival. I'd like to work in communities that still have that type of connection to the sea rather then deal with high-rise condo homeowners associations when it comes to discussions of water quality, setback rules, coastal erosion, restoration, etc.

Gear type does matter to me. Take lobster as an example. Lobsters caught in traps can be let go without high mortality if under or oversized lobsters, berried females, or v-notched females (lobstermen cut a notch in the tip of the tail of a berried female and that lobster won't be landed until the notch is molted -- this gives the females a chance to spawn multiple times before capture) find their way into a trap. A section of the trap is degradable so that if the buoy line gets severed, the trap doesn't continue to ghost fish. If you drag for lobsters using a net, you get high mortality rates of the lobsters that would otherwise be released, the nets literally drag along the bottom disturbing large areas of bottom habitat, and have higher bycatch rates of other species that get caught in the same net.

Local rules matter to me. Sticking with lobster. Maine has a lower maximum size then others. This is to protect the older females that produce more eggs. Maine also only has trap fishermen and not any draggers. And I just really liked working with the lobstermen in Maine so to me it is like being a regular at a favorite restaurant -- I want to go back and support them.

I would not eat a critter that has overfishing in the fishery. I don't want to contribute to consumer demand that makes it difficult to limit catch and end overfishing. I would need to know about the rebuilding plan before eating a critter that is still overfished but overfishing is no longer occurring. There are some that based on the data do not, in my opinion, have a realistic chance of meeting their rebuilding targets. There are others where the fishermen are making significant changes and fighting destructive practices (particularly in international fisheries) that I would feel I would be rewarding rebuilding efforts.

The same goes for farmed seafood. It would depend on the practices that vary by local rules and fishery. Factors important to me are escapement, ability for the farmed critter to potential breed or compete with wild critters, nutrient monitoring from feed and waste, and disease protocols. It would also depend on the interaction with wild fisheries in terms of socioeconomics. Some former wild harvest communities have switch to aquaculture to end overfishing but still use the knowledge gained on the water. Others have used aquaculture to drive local water quality improvements so that area waters are now fishable and swimmable.

Just a few thoughts. Your mileage may vary. I welcome any differences of opinion but don't mean to start a debate on what is important to anyone when making up their own mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many years ago, I lived on Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina. The kitchen helper at the restaurant where I worked

would not show up some days, when the shrimping was good ... he would be out on his uncle's boat. Maybe it is an overly romantic view,

but I think it was the inefficiency of the business on so many levels that helped maintain the shrimp population.

Building in deliberate inefficiency as part of designed policy ... much more difficult.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well now, this is EXACTLY why some of us on this site wait for you to chime in. Being our "fisheries" expert and all. I realize that you work for the gummint (either state or federal, whatever) and have to temper your remarks; yet and still you are on the frontlines of this subject and are speaking to a very interested audience. Is there some way you can tell us YOUR truth in some sort of non-esoteric manner us non-experts can understand???

I need to know what I can buy in the stores and prepare at home and what I can order in a restaurant. (From what I have read, the farmed mussels and soft-shell crabs are good to go. Are you going to break my heart? Oh, and not to mention, the farmed Rainbow Trout???)

OR, is everybody missing the boat on sustainable seafood????

As I have mentioned before, click here form some very good information. They provide a good deal of information on what fish to buy and why and also discuss the various fishing techniques. This information will help us to ask the right questions and make our own decisions on what to buy and eat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I have mentioned before, click here form some very good information. They provide a good deal of information on what fish to buy and why and also discuss the various fishing techniques. This information will help us to ask the right questions and make our own decisions on what to buy and eat.
This site is where I go first to determine what I am and am not going to buy (though it does have it's limitations, too). As it is, labelling in markets is spotty and unreliable, with the people working behind the counters lacking knowledge to answer even basic questions. Going beyond the basic guidelines (with respect to fishing technique, etc) is virtually impossible right now for the average consumer. Ah, for the good old days of the local fishmonger who knew these details.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Building in deliberate inefficiency as part of designed policy ... much more difficult.
This is actually something we excel at! Reduce the net soak time, give fishermen only so many hours to fish and run a clock from the time they leave the dock, no fishing every third Thursday, switch from square to diamond netting, etc. We go out of our way to limit effectiveness. Some of our fisheries management plans would give efficiency experts seizures.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

An interesting discussion on CBC Radio 1 this morning on their program The Current. They were talking about how the shark population has been decimated (some species being reduced by 95% in the past 35 years) due to direct and indirect fishing (the latter a byproduct of swordfish and tuna fishing). Because of this, much of the large shark's prey (such as the cownose ray) have dramatically increased in numbers. The cownose ray, in turn, eats mostly shellfish and their increasing numbers is being cited as one of the main reasons for depletion in east coast stocks of bay scallops and oysters.

But, unfortunately, sharks aren't as cuddly looking as polar bears and lions. There isn't the public support for listing these as endangered species and the fishing industry continues to suffer.

On a side note - what's your opinion on the MSC certified sustainable chilean sea bass being sold at WF? Click for background info.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The cownose ray, in turn, eats mostly shellfish and their increasing numbers is being cited as one of the main reasons for depletion in east coast stocks of bay scallops and oysters.
The opportunity to mess local ecology (is a postive way?) is there ... eat more cownose ray!

click-here

Are they tasty? Unknown. Do they suffer from 'monkfish' syndrome (ugly, scary seafood)? Probably. :blink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi All-

I asked Don- who said to go ahead and post this. I hope some of you are able to attend the hearing today, or follow along online.

-Ali

On Tuesday, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will be holding a hearing on the role food service can play in fighting Global Warming.

While this may not be the typical area of coverage for the board I wanted to share as we cover the DC area. The House Office Buildings cafeterias recently transitioned over to green friendly fare. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...8011500801.html

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR 2 PM, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2008

http://globalwarming.house.gov/mediacenter...eleases?id=0175

Contact: Select Committee, 202-225-4081

Food for Thought: Hearing to Examine Food Service Industry’s Role in Climate Solutions

On Tuesday, February 26, 2008, Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will hold a hearing examining how the food service industry can improve its impact on the environment and reduce its contribution to global warming. Specifically, the Committee will explore how large scale food operators such as universities, school districts and corporations can “green” their practices to provide meals that are beneficial to consumers and the environment.

The hearing follows the transformation of the House of Representatives cafeteria facilities and the increasing public interest in the geographical origins, consumption and disposal of the food we eat, and how our food choices affect our planet’s water, land and climate.

WHAT: “Food for Thought: Sustainability from Counter to Compost”, Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

WHEN: 2 PM, Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WHO:

* Dan Beard, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), House of Representatives

* Carina Wong, Executive Director, Chez Panisse Foundation

* Patricia D. Millner, Ph.D, Research Microbiologist in the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory and Environmental Microbial Systems Laboratory, USDA

* Tom Kelly, Ph.D., Chief Sustainability Officer, University of New Hampshire Office of Sustainability

WHERE: 1100 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC

This hearing will be webcast live at www.globalwarming.house.gov

Link to comment
Share on other sites

given the political nature of our city, and in my opinion relatively educated and enlightened residents, i remain shocked that the food industry can't be better about offering sustainable and healthy fish on our menus. it's not up to residents alone, but a great responsibility lies on the foodies, purveyors and others of the industry to stick to green options for seafood, because i'm sorry, there is just NO excuse for serving chilean seabass or wild sturgeon. if you don't serve it, people won't order it, and we won't continue to devastate vulnerable fisheries and ecosystems - some of them on the brink of extinction - to eat what is often illegally harvested and likely the weaker, unhealthy remaining individuals anyway (when a fishery is on its way to collapsing, the healthy ones are all gone, it's the small runts that are left!).

we're all about organic vegetables, free-range meats, so why does a place like Hook get all the glory for serving decent fish? it should be the standard. i'd be interested in knowing why a restaurant would serve a fish that will only be rarer in years to come. it can't be that good so as to eliminate it permanently from the earth. often, it merely requires giving a fishery a break, laying off for a few years so that it can recover. but continuous pressure will only shorten the time a species has.

i recently forwarded some fish anatomy questions from a chef aquaintance to a marine biology listserv and they were nothing short of appalled that DC area restaurants serve IUCN redlist species. there is a lot of material that can educate you to good choices, and perhaps when the next International Marine Conservation Congress comes to DC this May (consider it the olympics of marine biology, every four years the leaders in the science and policy arena descend on a city for a week of dialog) we could have some better options available. and if not, there are likely several attendees that will be telling their 600+ colleagues where to eat when they are here.

here's what a scientist from the Ocean Research and Conservation Organization had to say:

Chefs and restaurants are an important ingredient in the melting pot of marine conservation, because they can influence what seafood products people will ultimately consume. The Seafood watch program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a great initiative in this new path of collaboration between science and the public, and contains very useful pocket guides (even iPhone guides) on what to eat or not, based on extinction level (of the seafood species) or possible human health risks. Check http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

Of the species listed in your message, two are of particular concern. But it helps to remind the information, for the sake of all seafood consumers (and chefs) on the list.

Sturgeons (many times labelled as "wild sturgeon" when sold to restaurants), are in their path to extinction.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, classifies species by extinction threats, at their IUCN red list, based on extensive studies and research. All sturgeon species on the red list (27 in total) are threatened in some way, either critically endangered to endangered (most of them), or vulnerable getting close to becoming endangered. These species have genus names such as Acipenser, Huso, Macrhybopsis, Psephurus, Pseudoscaphirhynchus and Scpaphirhynchus.

You can find the red list at http://www.iucnredlist.org, and IUCN at http://www.iucn.org

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), has its own classification.

Two sturgeons, Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and Common Sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) are listed under CITES Appendix I, which means, they are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species.

The rest of the sturgeon species are in Appendix II, which means they are not necessarily NOW (emphasis in the "now") threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled and will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild

See the CITES species list at http://www.cites.org/eng/app/appendices.shtml

And CITES appendix explanations at http://www.cites.org/eng/app/index.shtml

Following on the same lists, the Pacific stock of big eye tuna (Tunnus obesus), is listed as vulnerable at the IUCN red list, although the assessment was done in 1996, and most likely, it is in worse shape right now (See http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/21859). CITES has no listing for this species.

In summary, assuming your friend was actually cooking what the invoice said, he and other chefs like him (and clients) could greatly help consume ocean-friendly seafood, by choosing to give some time off to those species that need it the most.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if you don't serve it, people won't order it

And if you don't patronize establishments serving it, and you contact them explaining exactly why they aren't getting your business, and you convince a few dozen people to do the same, then maybe they will change their tune. The fact is there is a market for these products, and catering to that market is what keeps restaurants' lights on. I think more and more people are becoming aware of the ecological impact of their food choices thanks to recent press (The Omnivore's Dilemma, etc.), but the grim fact is that most of them just don't care.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that this issue is one that is ignored in a city that has a strong awareness of local and organic and sustainable when it comes to land products. I see review after review mentioning skate wing, local cod, Chesapeake crab etc and think when will we learn, when there are no more fish whatsoever? Local Rock is great, well managed and on the comeback trail. But local crab is going extinct with current controls in place. The current controls of Bluefin Tuna agreed upon in Europe & the US will see the depletion of the stock in 5 years instead of 3. We must stop the madness. But the way to stop the madness is to stop eating Toro. No more skate wing in brown butter until not only is there a sustainable, scientifically based management plan in place (as there is with skate) but a sustainable fishing method is also in place (skate is caught in ways that promote habitat destruction and/or by catch).

Hook is not the only restaurant with a concern for the fish it serves. At Dino we do not serve monkfish, blue fin tuna, cod, Chilean sea bass and many other species due to the state of their fisheries and the lack of effective controls. Other restaurants are involved in this effort too. But this issue is almost never supported in the dining press or the blogosphere except for Hook.

But it is not as easy as following the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s list (a great resource and starting point, but one that excludes many commonly available species, lacks some specificity of fishing grounds and is slow to update). As Barton Seaver pointed out on Kojo Namde's show on his recent interview/appearance, there are fish on the red "Avoid" list that now have effective management plans in place and the fishery is on a path to return back to maximum sustainable biomass. These fisheries now have allowable catch limits that the fishing industry in these locals is observing. If we do not support these responsible fisheries, what will happen? Will these fisheries stay within the plan? Will they turn to another fish species and decimate it? So Barton Seaver suggests that buying Gulf caught Red Snapper sis a good thing as long as they are responsibly caught. I agree.

If you look on the NOAA National Marin Fisheries Service web site, there are many fish where the fishery is over fished but over fishing is no longer occurring. Most of these fish will show up as avoid on MBA or Blue Waters Oceans Institute (I may have that name wrong). Because there are no agreed upon standards of what sustainable means, each restaurateur has to evaluate the situation on a case by case basis.

I personally am very conservative in going against the MBA red list: the fishery must not be over fished currently, a good scientifically bases conservation plan with a track record of recovery must be documented.

Farm raised fish also present problems. If the fish is pen raised near shore there are pollution problems as well as the problems of antibiotics use in feed and also in the feeds used themselves (most farm raised salmon is fed essentially nitrogen rich fertilizer which destroys the local ecology and so should be avoided). On the other hand, open water farming where the farming occurs off shore and in more natural densities seems to be a much better resource.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sturgeons (many times labelled as "wild sturgeon" when sold to restaurants), are in their path to extinction.
Just a note, white sturgeon is listed as a good alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium list. However, the populations on the Columbia are in bad shape so I would suggest not buying them and only using the Quinault population, a well managed population from the Quinault River which is fished by the Quinault People who are very active in fishery conservation.

Again, these issues are very cloudy and reliance on any one resource for advice is difficult.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great info. It is true that many don't worry about the sustainability of seafood. Looking to the past I fear nothing will happen until there is a catastrophic problem. Sure there are some great efforts out there to educate, but most folks just don't know or don't care. Hell, there are folks on this board that are on the lookout for shark fin soup.

I try to remember asking about the source of fish when I order at a restaurant to try and make better choices, but that does not guarantee anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking to the past I fear nothing will happen until there is a catastrophic problem. Sure there are some great efforts out there to educate, but most folks just don't know or don't care.

I don't know what is more catastrophic than the plight of the Chessapeake crab. We have watermen saying that they will go out of business if there is any further restriction on their catch and yet they will be out of business in a few years anyways. There is simly no sustainable Maryland Blue Crab at this time. The only responsible thing to sdo is simply not eat it. Southern Virginia, not the Chessapeake but I believe the James is better managed. Don't eat East Coast Cod or Halibut. Local is not necessarily sustainable.

Hell, there are folks on this board that are on the lookout for shark fin soup.
If it is British Columbia wild caught bottom line shark thats OK.
I try to remember asking about the source of fish when I order at a restaurant to try and make better choices, but that does not guarantee anything.
I was interviewing a potential new fish vendor the other day and asked about sustainable. His reply was that they are specialists in sustainable fish. What do you have that's sustainable right now? Local cod, halibut. Next!!!

Not only do you need to know the exact variety of the fish, but its waters too. GFolden Tilefish from Montauk LI is O. But not from Virginia south. Blueline Tilefish is bad everywhere. Gulf Tilefish is out as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know what is more catastrophic than the plight of the Chessapeake crab. We have watermen saying that they will go out of business if there is any further restriction on their catch and yet they will be out of business in a few years anyways. There is simly no sustainable Maryland Blue Crab at this time. The only responsible thing to sdo is simply not eat it. Southern Virginia, not the Chessapeake but I believe the James is better managed. Don't eat East Coast Cod or Halibut. Local is not necessarily sustainable.

If it is British Columbia wild caught bottom line shark thats OK.

I was interviewing a potential new fish vendor the other day and asked about sustainable. His reply was that they are specialists in sustainable fish. What do you have that's sustainable right now? Local cod, halibut. Next!!!

Not only do you need to know the exact variety of the fish, but its waters too. GFolden Tilefish from Montauk LI is O. But not from Virginia south. Blueline Tilefish is bad everywhere. Gulf Tilefish is out as well.

It gets complicated quickly, doesn't it. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just learned from a friend of this blog dealing with Sustainable Seafood, particularly the latest comment.

My 5 year old company, based in Washington DC, supplies only sustainable seafood (primarily fresh king salmon, halibut and sablefish starting about Mar 25) and seafood that does not contain dangerous contaminants (e.g., methyl mercury, PAHs, PCBs and dioxin) . We regularly serve about 70 restaurant clients in the Washington DC metropolitan area (Hook and Dino's are examples; most of the rest are listed on our website at http://www.PrimeSeafood.com) as well as others in our new southern and mid-west market areas of Atlanta, Savannah, Hilton Head, Sea Island, Louisville and Charleston.

I am a fisheries biologist, by profession, with over 35 years of federal government experience in both national and international fisheries conservation and management (see my other website devoted to big fish at http://www.BigMarineFish.com). Prime Seafood actively advocates for our chefs to switch from unsustainable to sustainable seafood and we recommend they (and consumers) use the Seafood Guide produced by the Blue Ocean Institute (http://www.blueocean.org/files/Seafood_Guide.pdf) to guide their buying. Hook hands out these guides with the check and I can provide Dinos with with a big stack when we receive our re-supply in early March.

For U.S. seafood items, one can find out which common species are "overfished" and thus which ones we should avoid, by visiting the National Marine Fisheries Service's website (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch). This list is updated regularly; NMFS (actually the Secretary of Commerce) must furnish its list of "overfished" species to Congress annually and, for each, it must develop and undertake a rebuilding plan to "recover" each generally within 10 years. The problem is the fishery managers have been dragging their feet for the past 7 or 8 years to delay painful economic cuts to the commercial fishing industry. Now, push is coming to shove and the availability of many popular species will be reduced drastically. Prime Seafood has been aware of this looming situation and has sought out sustainable sources of fish and shellfish from emerging fisheries elsewhere - one of which is being guided for sustainability by a colleague.

As has been pointed out on this blog by others, the subject of which seafood items to avoid is often complex - it depends on what is caught, what else is caught with it, where, how, even when. But it is very important for consumers to become part of the soulution to the problem. I can assure you that chefs find it very uncomfortable for a customer to question them about serving a fish or shellfish whose population is in trouble (i..e., on the "overfished" list or on the Blue Ocean Institute's "red" list) and your comment will have an impact on what gets served there in the future. In terms of the serious dangers associated with most "farm-raised" salmon including cancer risk, please see our website blog at http://primeseafood.com/b/ But excuse the intro para of gobldegook (we are just getting it organized).

And for information on all the many advantages of consuming healthy fish, check out this section of our website http://www.primeseafood.com/health_benefits.php

Jim Chambers

Prime Seafood

301-949-7778

Link to comment
Share on other sites

maybe a list of "good" restaurants and "bad" restaurants should be compiled and updated (pinned?) but I think DR needs to oversee this as a witch hunt is not the point of this exercise. I find the whole situation pretty sad (especially my beloved blue crab) and certainl;y agree the diner needs to be aware of what should be ordered. Excellent discussion, btw.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

maybe a list of "good" restaurants and "bad" restaurants should be compiled and updated (pinned?) but I think DR needs to oversee this as a witch hunt is not the point of this exercise. I find the whole situation pretty sad (especially my beloved blue crab) and certainl;y agree the diner needs to be aware of what should be ordered. Excellent discussion, btw.
Jay

I would be against this. Just as I would be against a list of "good" restaurants vs "bad" on sustainability. Why? Because there are no generally accepted standards.

A case in point. A restaurant that advertises heavily its green status uses a bio pack for its to go food. This is a plastic coated paper box made with recycled paper materials. In my researches at Whole foods, I found that this product is neither recyclable nor is it very biodegradable (coated papers almost never are) and so to me it is very poor packaging choice. Yet it does have a high recycled content. Where should this factor count? Raising awareness? Good. Recycle? Good. Reduce waste stream? Bad.

Right now, every week it seems, there are new packaging products being introduced made from renewable resources that are quickly biodegradable. We have been able to switch to these products. They are made by Sun Terra and Green Wave. Any restauranteur interested in finding a distributor for them can PM me. But I would not want to post a good vs bad list.

Lets just keep it simple. Don't eat fish on the verge of being fished out of existence. Tell the restaurant why you are not eating it. If that is all they serve, then maybe think about eating elsewhere, but as an individual decision. To solve this problem, consumers havev to be the moving element. If there is simply no demand for overfished species, then none will be sold.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not only do you need to know the exact variety of the fish, but its waters too. GFolden Tilefish from Montauk LI is O. But not from Virginia south. Blueline Tilefish is bad everywhere. Gulf Tilefish is out as well.

tilefish is right up there with swordfish in terms of high mercury levels, so eating it regardless of where it came from is a risky decision in terms of personal health.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tilefish is right up there with swordfish in terms of high mercury levels, so eating it regardless of where it came from is a risky decision in terms of personal health.
While there are population more and less vulnerable to mercury, each person must make their own risk assessment which, again, involves tradeoffs. Eating a wide variety of fish lowers ones risk of heart attack, the number one killer in the US by a huge margin. Heart disease in now the number one killer of women, even controlling for smoking behavior.

The risks of mercury for healthy populations not of childbearing years or not intending to become pregnant is orders of magnatude lower. And even a careful reading suggests that mercury accumulation in the body will mostly reverse itself by eliminating the risky fish for a year before becomming pregnant. So on a pure view of reducing mortality, a little tilefish in my diet seems to be a very acceptable risk.

How many of us drive while using cellphones or eat while driving (he says ruefully admitting to both)? This is one of the riskiest behaviors we can possibly engage in Certainly in the top 10 where numbers 1 & 2 is driving without a seatbelt & smoking. I think forgetting our anniversary and my wife's birthday in the same year may be number 3 on the list!

Here is the EPA report on mercury in fish, which only suggests elimination of tilefish, sword and other fish for women who may become pregnant, are pregnant or are nursing.

But let's also remember that mercury in fish is a man made issue that can be controlled by our own actions. If we move to clean electricity generation, mercury problems will be reduced greatly.

Also, on a statistical note, one of the most risky things a woman does in the course of an average life is have children. Pregnancy and childbirth are incredibly risky to both child and mother. Women are heros for going thru with the process and we can thank the collective amnesia they get when they see their newborn child for allowing for more than one blessed event on average that sustains our population.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's not forget the role that the media could play in all of this. Melissa Clark's recipe in today's New York Times Dining section is for "Olive Oil Poached Halibut Nuggets with Garlic and Mint." There's no mention anywhere that Atlantic halibut is a big no-no in terms of sustainability, yet I suspect that many of the people who look to the Dining section for new recipes will head to their local Whole Foods and buy Atlantic halibut (since that's the only type of halibut they ever seem to have) this week or next in order to make this recipe.

Before anybody overreacts, I'm not calling for anybody, including the media, to police what we eat, but would a little note about what type of halibut to look for really be all that intrusive. If we started seeing more conscious attention to this issue in the media, then perhaps we'd all become more conscious in both our own home cooking and when we eat out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

given the political nature of our city, and in my opinion relatively educated and enlightened residents, i remain shocked that the food industry can't be better about offering sustainable and healthy fish on our menus. it's not up to residents alone, but a great responsibility lies on the foodies, purveyors and others of the industry to stick to green options for seafood, because i'm sorry, there is just NO excuse for serving chilean seabass or wild sturgeon. if you don't serve it, people won't order it, and we won't continue to devastate vulnerable fisheries and ecosystems - some of them on the brink of extinction - to eat what is often illegally harvested and likely the weaker, unhealthy remaining individuals anyway (when a fishery is on its way to collapsing, the healthy ones are all gone, it's the small runts that are left!)...

I am very glad that you began a discussion on the matter. Thank you, and kudos for providing us with a host of sources to read regarding our seafood stocks and the current track potential for being wiped out.

Though I do not follow these red-lists to the "T" (i.e. Bluefin Otoro/Chutoro a few times a year), I consider myself to be in general very socially-conscious regarding the sourcing of food. What else is so important than that enters into our bodies? As consumers, we have a responsibility--in our conscience and with the power of market demand--to determine what should be consumed and what should be avoided so that we do not cause extinction of a species.

Knowledge regarding this sustainability has driven my food choices. For instance, I have not eaten toothfish (Chilean Sea Bass) entirely ever since I heard about its depletion years ago. (Specifically with regards to toothfish, I personally feel that it is a fish used by chefs who can't cook/have to rely on expensive ingredients or people without sophisticated taste buds in the first place.) I have minimized my consumption of Bluefin Tuna, have not had much flounder/fluke/sole or cod/scrod for a while, and I do not eat sturgeon-based caviar. Whether it was beluga, osetra, or sevruga, they did not really have as much true value to me as a foodie aside from the obvious pomp and fancy. Sturgeon caviar is really empty compared to indulging in the subtleties of the ocean's other treasures, such as with Horse/Spanish/Canadian Mackerel or sea urchin roe. Again, sturgeon caviar (like toothfish, foie gras, truffles, shark fin, bird's nest) is really hype and fancy marketing (snob appeal) rather than being of any culinary substance. (I have had exquisite boeuf gras from a sublime ribeye that trumped the best foie gras, and impeccably fermented kim chi that equaled any white/black truffle.)

Furthermore, eating fish at the top of the food chain (i.e. swordfish, sharks) or anything genetically closer to humans (i.e. mammals such as whales, monkeys) increases likelihood for the transmission of diseases. Also, ask any knowledgeable person who works with seafood and they will tell you that the the ones higher on the food chain will be the ones with higher concentrations of mercury, PCBS, and other toxins because each member of the food chain accumulates the toxins of its prey.

With all that said, the following are some unfussy, generalities I follow with regards to seafood.

HELPFUL HINTS FOR SAFELY/SUSTAINABLY SELECTING SEAFOOD:

1) When selecting fish, go for the sea/ocean-based kind rather than their freshwater brethren. Tilapia, catfish, and river trout (this latter one I liked the most) almost exclusively taste of pollution (chemically)--even those from gourmet suppliers--because rivers tend to harbor higher concentrations of pollution and contaminants than saltwater fish.

2) When in doubt, go for wild. Some high-end farms are becoming quite good in producing clean, delicious, and sustainable fish, but the majority (by population among suppliers) are not there yet in quality. You can see the difference in quality through color (farmed is very dull and fattier--unhealthy Omega 6 fatty acids) and taste (chemical taste in the farmed variety is very unpleasant).

3) Eat smaller, fast maturing fish like sardines and mackerels--they are far more concentrated in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon or tuna. These fish are also lower on the food chain, making them far less in concentrations of toxins like mercury. Plus, these fish are less expensive while being quite the favorites of fish-connoisseurs and sushi-snobs :rolleyes:

4) Widely-known forms of mollusks (clams/cockels, scallops, mussels, squid) are even lower on the food chain, and the cold-water variety are generally safe. They are clean wild or even farmed (bivalves farmed in cold waters are good too)!

5) Gourmet seafood farms are generally clean and sustainable. Most specialty farms ("aquaculture") of bi-valves, i.e. P.E.I. mussels, have built their reputations around quality. Sustainability is important and smart for their continued success as well as meeting their high demands.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2) When in doubt, go for wild. Some high-end farms are becoming quite good in producing clean, delicious, and sustainable fish, but the majority (by population among suppliers) are not there yet in quality. You can see the difference in quality through color (farmed is very dull and fattier--unhealthy Omega 6 fatty acids) and taste (chemical taste in the farmed variety is very unpleasant).

3) Eat smaller, fast maturing fish like sardines and mackerels--they are far more concentrated in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon or tuna.

5) Gourmet seafood farms are generally clean and sustainable. Most specialty farms ("aquaculture") of bi-valves, i.e. P.E.I. mussels, have built their reputations around quality. Sustainability is important and smart for their continued success as well as meeting their high demands.

On #2, open ocean acquaculture adn methods that rely on the wild behavior/habitat of a species are a major step forward. We shold not reject this form of acquaculture because of the ills of shoreline high density pen nets farming. Also, on land farming where the waste water is used in agriculture is another good source of seafood. Some California sturgeon farms fall under this model

#3 Eat Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon. This is one of the best regulated fisheries and is in incredibly healthy status because of new methods of controlling the catch and the use of more trolling in the open waters and less fishing of river fish. What this methodology has done for the Native American Peoples who own many of the fish houses is also astounding.

#5 Farm raised shellfish are water cleaners and support the health of the rest of the ecosystem. If we can reestablish the oyster populations in the Chessapeake to former levels, the crab will come back!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How many of us drive while using cellphones or eat while driving (he says ruefully admitting to both)? This is one of the riskiest behaviors we can possibly engage in Certainly in the top 10 where numbers 1 & 2 is driving without a seatbelt & smoking.

I know this is completely off topic, but I can't resist pulling out the soapbox for a sentence or two: HANG UP AND DRIVE. :rolleyes: And don't fool yourself that a hands-free setup will help, because the problem is the distraction, not how many hands you have on the wheel.

oh, yeah, and I don't eat swordfish any more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

maybe a list of "good" restaurants and "bad" restaurants should be compiled and updated (pinned?) but I think DR needs to oversee this as a witch hunt is not the point of this exercise. I find the whole situation pretty sad (especially my beloved blue crab) and certainl;y agree the diner needs to be aware of what should be ordered. Excellent discussion, btw.

I don't think a guide of "good" or "bad" restaurants is needed - more importantly, what are good or worse dishes to order at local restaurants. just like people who need help choosing healthy options for their diets, i would greatly appreciate someone recommending a certain dish for its sustainable contribution to the food market. you can't blanket restaurants and witch hunt, but if people are steered away frrom chilean sea bass, it won't keep finding its way onto the menus...also educating the waitstaff. i've been at a restaurant before and overheard someone specifically asking for chilean sea bass. it would be great if the server knew how to recommend something similar and better...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think a guide of "good" or "bad" restaurants is needed - more importantly, what are good or worse dishes to order at local restaurants. just like people who need help choosing healthy options for their diets, i would greatly appreciate someone recommending a certain dish for its sustainable contribution to the food market. you can't blanket restaurants and witch hunt, but if people are steered away frrom chilean sea bass, it won't keep finding its way onto the menus...also educating the waitstaff. i've been at a restaurant before and overheard someone specifically asking for chilean sea bass. it would be great if the server knew how to recommend something similar and better...

An excellent substitute exists for "Chilean Sea Bass" in the form of "Sablefish" (real name Blackcod) most of which comes from Alaska. A sablefish entre, often served with a miso glaze, appears as large chunks of buttery snow white meat encased in a (usually crispy) black skin. The live weight of big ones is about 20 lbs. Like halibuit and all of Alaska's 5 salmon species (king, coho, sockeye, pink and chum), sablefish are both high in heart-healthy Omega-3s and are certified as "sustainable" by the international Marine Stewardship Council (I was honored to be on its scientific advisory body when it was being formed). Proof, Nora and Hook routinely serve our sablefish. Fresh sablefish (and halibut and lingcod) will be available starting about March 25th, at which point at least a dozen more restaurants will be serving it again. Halibut is our most popular fish, but sablefish is probably the best tasting (it's just not as well known to DC diners). The fresh season for all three lasts until mid-November.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Halibut is our most popular fish, but sablefish is probably the best tasting (it's just not as well known to DC diners).

No question in my mind which of these is the better tasting...I find most halibut preparations to be boring, but the classic sablefish and miso combination is totally delicious (and apparently that buttery texture is hard to screw up). And now I'm jonesing for some.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Savor a wide variety of sustainable seafood and organic meats and produce in this special evening in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History rotunda. More than 25 of Washington’s best-known chefs have created succulent seafood specialties just for you.

Slurp and compare East and West Coast oysters; choose from a selection of sushi; enjoy wild salmon, blue crab, smoked trout, yellowfin tuna, black cod, shrimp and prawns, and scallops with accompanying wines. Mingle with chefs who have created the evening’s fare, and shake hands with Food Network star Alton Brown.

Anyone else attending tonight? Savoring Seafood

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Savor a wide variety of sustainable seafood and organic meats and produce in this special evening in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History rotunda. More than 25 of Washington’s best-known chefs have created succulent seafood specialties just for you.

Slurp and compare East and West Coast oysters; choose from a selection of sushi; enjoy wild salmon, blue crab, smoked trout, yellowfin tuna, black cod, shrimp and prawns, and scallops with accompanying wines. Mingle with chefs who have created the evening’s fare, and shake hands with Food Network star Alton Brown.

The federal 2009 Alaskan Sablefish (and Halibut) season opened on March 21, 2009 at 1200 hrs ALT (Alaskan Local Time). In shortsighted symbolism or clumsy coincidence, the Smithsonian chose to host the sustainable fishing panel the morning of March 21, 2009, before one of the largest wild populations of halibut and sablefish opened for commercial fishing. Were they serving fresh or frozen 2008 sablefish?

Waiting a few weeks would have allowed the panel to serve widely appealing fresh fish (sablefish, halibut and salmon) during the federally regulated 2009 season without undermining the seasonal consideration of their sustainability battle cry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Based upon a quick comparison of the Bonefish menu to the Blue Ocean Institute Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood, it looks like only the Tilapia is an unequivocally sustainable choice.

Whether or not tilapia is considered sustainable depends on your priorities and (I hate to say it) your politics. Much of the diet in domestic, farm-raised tilapia comes from corn, in particular, from corn that is heavily subsidized by the federal government at the expense of other programs. Click here for a starter article.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whether or not tilapia is considered sustainable depends on your priorities and (I hate to say it) your politics. Much of the diet in domestic, farm-raised tilapia comes from corn, in particular, from corn that is heavily subsidized by the federal government at the expense of other programs. Click here for a starter article.

Cheers,

Rocks.

They actually catch Tilapia for commercial purposes from the backyard lake at my in-laws house in Venice, FL. My in-laws, who love to fish, won't eat them fearing fertilizer run-off from the lawns. Because it's a vegetarian fish, you have to catch it with nets, they will not go after hooks.

Ignacio

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very few acquacultured fish have the same profile of nutrients as their wild couterparts. This does not appear to be the case with acquacultured shellfish.

Farm raised fish in general poses problems with pollution and nutrients. Here the Europeans seem to be far ahead of the US in terms of trying to establish best practices resulting in healthy fish, but the independent data is lacking.

Open water penning seems to be far superior to close to shore high intensity penning (which is what most salmon farming entails).

There are fish farms that keep their fish on shore (good for pollution issues) and use agricultural runoff water to provide much of their nutrition (good for water pollution issues, a question for pesticide use) and result in a cleaner waste water than the original agricultural runoff water. Plus this water can be used to fertilize the agricultural facility again. I believe that there are farms in this mode in California {sturgeon with caviar production - yum!} and Australia {baramundi - ho hum}.

Unfortunately, the US government money going into the research appears to go mainly into methods of production and very little of it going into the health status of the resultant fish and ecological effects of the methods. This is true at USDA where farm research is divided around 97% into production and 3% into sustainability & organics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone else annoyed by the recent resumption of on-air promotions of Monsanto and its dedication to sustainable agriculture?

I am hoping that by raising the issue here, we might have a discussion about what "sustainable agriculture" means to the kinds of audiences the company and news outlet hope to reach.

I wonder how it is legal for an operation to claim values that are antithetical to its practices and if it gets away with it simply because there are no federal guidelines for what "sustainable agriculture" means. It is my understanding that fundamental to SA are the roles of bio-diversity and rotation in planting crops for the sake of minimizing the need to control pests and to protect the quality of soil.

I am also hoping that such a discussion might have an impact that emails to the station and umbrella organizations have not had; I've received no replies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone else annoyed by the recent resumption of on-air promotions of Monsanto and its dedication to sustainable agriculture?

No. Doesn't bother me a bit. I don't take marketing personally. NPR needs to get its funding somewhere and if listener donations aren't cutting it, I don't have much of a problem with Monsanto or anyone else advertising.

I wonder how it is legal for an operation to claim values that are antithetical to its practices and if it gets away with it simply because there are no federal guidelines for what "sustainable agriculture" means. It is my understanding that fundamental to SA are the roles of bio-diversity and rotation in planting crops for the sake of minimizing the need to control pests and to protect the quality of soil.

Unlike "local", the government has provided us with a definition for "sustainable agriculture" which has been around since, I think, the 90s. From US Code, Title 7:

"(19) The term “sustainable agriculture” means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long-term—

( A ) satisfy human food and fiber needs;

( B ) enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends;

( C ) make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;

( D ) sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and

( E ) enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."

Monsanto's ad is something to the effect of "Producing more. Conserving more. Improving farmers’ lives. That’s sustainable agriculture. And that’s what Monsanto seeds are all about." For the sake of argument, Monsanto has pretty much quickly defined the federal definition of sustainable agriculture in their ad. While some people may not agree with Monsanto's practices and products, arguably their products do allow farmers to produce more food, use less water, which in turn should allow the farmers to make more money, etc. So it seems that Monsanto's products fit neatly within the federal definition.

Certainly crop rotations and pest management are one way to do sustainable agriculture, but they need not be the only way and it seems to me that Monsanto is playing by the rules. I think you raise an interesting point that the definition of sustainable agriculture has become somewhat muddled, but arguably those supporting technological methods of sustainable farming (i.e., Monsanto) and those supporting crop rotations, etc (i.e., interest groups like Eco Farm) do both neatly fit within the federal definition.

Now if we can debate "local," which has no federal guidance of any sort, i'm all for it. "Local" is a marketer's dream. But we can save that for another day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

"(19) The term “sustainable agriculture” means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long-term—

( A ) satisfy human food and fiber needs;

( B ) enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends;

( C ) make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;

( D ) sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and

( E ) enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."

...

"satisfy", "enhance", "most efficient", "where appropriate"

Better than no definition, but man you could drive a (hybrid) truck through Section 3103. Concepts of biodiversity appear buried somewhere in the "natural resource base", sadly.

In my best Richard Dawson voice..."Google says: Results 1 - 10 of about 99,900 for Monsanto greenwashing. (0.46 seconds)"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...