Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Want to make sure the seafood you eat is sustainable but don’t know how to get the information you need to do so? You just have to remember two questions: "Where did the fish come from?" and "How was it harvested?"

I was recently inspired by a reader’s comment on a blog on sustainable fishing. This reader brought my attention to a Vancouver Chef, Rob Clark, who takes cooking sustainably seriously. If you are interested, you can hear him talk more about his philosophy at this link. I appreciated Rob’s tips on eating sustainably when dining out. First, Rob recommends carrying your portable SeaChoice Seafood Guide (or similar guide in your region) to determine which menu items are ocean-friendly. And, to make the best use of this guide, it is important to ask your server two simple questions: "Where did the fish come from?" and "How was it harvested?"

Simple enough in theory, but most of us may need a little encouraging to ask these questions when we are eating out with friends, on a date, or on a business lunch. So, what can we do to ensure that these questions become second nature? It helps to have chefs like Rob speaking out to remind us why the answers are important. The rest, I’m convinced, will come with a little practice. I still remember how long it took before I reliably remembered to separate garbage into recyclable units rather than throwing it all into the same bin. Twenty years ago, there were many people tossing their garbage directly onto the streets – how many of us would think about doing that now?

The more we repeat the two important questions in restaurants, at the supermarket, or even at the fishing dock, the more they will become part of our daily routines. It may also put a little more pressure on vendors to offer sustainable seafood options. In Rob’s questions, you could even replace the word “fish” with “chicken”, “eggs”, or the vegetable of your choice. In my experience, some vendors have an answer ready and others will be confused by your questions. Either way, in the process, you’ll quickly discover more about your food and food producers, and you will likely educate others along the way.

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