Happy September everyone!
It’s still plenty hot here in New Mexico and even farther north in Denver, Colorado where we were last weekend. But there is something in the air that says autumn is almost here.
There’s something about the shade of green on the trees. They’ve lost that fresh green look and the green is slightly darker, the leaves slightly shrinking from the long hot and very dry summer. Change is in the air!
My Ever Evolving Food Philosophy and a Stunning Statistic
And I’ve changed up my cooking the past several weeks actually. I have been experimenting with a totally vegan menu bypassing all seafood which I had still been enjoying before on occasion. I have been reading up on the status of our ocean fish and the ocean itself and decided I cannot support the fishing industry any more.
What really got to me was learning that only about 10% of our big ocean fish are left. If true, that means 90% gone! That is a stunning statistic! (Ref: Worm B. Barbier ED, Beaumont N, et al. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science. 2006 Nov 3;314 (5800): 787-90.) Note that is is over ten years ago. Hat off to Dr. John MacDougall for pointing this out to me in his book, The Starch Solution.
I started paying attention to how much fish is on menus, how much fish people are eating as an alternative to other animal meat. I saw one cooking show on PBS where a single New York restaurant was purchasing 5 million pounds of fish a year. WOW!
I also have read–and I’m sure you’ve heard about this too–that radiation from Japan has made its effect on the Pacific all the way to our United States west coast. Tests show a level of radiation in fish and shellfish that was not previously there. That makes me very sad indeed.
In the Gulf, the 2010 oil spill was called the worst spill in U.S. history. After initial clean up efforts, the effect of that spill on Gulf sea life and people working and living on the Gulf Coast has been disastrous and long-lasting. I have avoided seafood from the Gulf Coast ever since. It’s not just the oil, it’s the chemicals used to “clean” it up.
I also question the quality of fish and seafood from the Far East, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and from fish farms. According to World Wide Fund for Nature, more than 80% of marine pollution is caused by land-based activities that cause oil spills, fertilizers and toxic chemical runoff and the discharge of untreated sewage.
Too Many Fish in the Sea?
I used to consider that the oceans are so very vast (true). I was taught the earth is 75% covered with water (true). I thought, there are (like the song says) TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA. I thought that yes, some may not be safe to eat but surely there are others that are. After all, doesn’t my Whole Foods store watch out for quality for me? Don’t they rate the quality of their seafood for me? Doesn’t the fish sold in my local Co-Op look quite clean and fresh?
When I read about our beautiful oceans and the losses we have sustained there I cannot pretend it has nothing to do with me and that my family and I are not really putting much of a dent in the fish population. And my family and I will probably not get sick from eating the fish. And it’s not me that eats the beef and chicken and pigs that come from the huge agribusiness that pollutes the environment and causes more greenhouse gases than automobiles. Not me. That’s good, but it’s not enough. Maybe there are still some spots where the fish are not polluted. That would be good news, but what about those fishing industries driven by all the demanding consumers who want to eat those fish up too?
Expanding My Viewpoint
I have a deep love of the ocean. Always have, always will. I made my decision and I’m confessing it to you. I’m not the sappy “save the ____” type. (It’s totally fine with me if you are.) But I am a citizen of Earth just like you and I cannot justify to myself supporting this status quo. (And yes, I do feel emotional about the ocean.)
This change is not just some dietary adjustment. This change is an expansion of my own care about the living things on earth and in the ocean and my own care about our planet. I am liking this about myself.
Share Some Good News, Please
I’m sticking to my decision but I invite you to share some good news, if you have it, about our oceans and the life they sustain.