If things continue the way they are now, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050. Here’s why each of our choices makes a big difference: we must decide between a slow but virtuous path towards sustainability, or disaster.
Three key tips to recognizing “good” fish are the duration of the product’s life cycle, the fishing method used, and its diffusion.
Nutritionist Michele Sozio and dietitian Paola Durelli talked about the key concepts at the Master of Food event held inside Eataly in Genoa. Their message was clear: each one of us, through conscious choices, can contribute to a better future for the sea. The more responsible people are involved, the more difference it will make.
“Choosing one species of fish over the other,” explains Michele Sozio, “is not just a healthy choice. It mean taking a position on the future we want for ourselves and our children.”
“When it comes to the average life cycle,” explains Sozio, “it is necessary to know that a fish that lives for a long time has more harmful substances in its flesh than a fish with a shorter life cycle. For that reason, we suggest you consume species such as anchovies, mullet or sardines – species that live a short life.”
Fishing techniques should also guide our choices. “There is no doubt that a fish caught with trawlers by industrial ships will be more harmful to nature compared to fish caught by small-scale fishermen who know the territory and want to maintain healthy stocks. An attentive consumer chooses local products that come from their local fishermen.”
The third choice we have regards the quantity of each species we buy. “This is the trickiest argument,” says Sozio jokingly, “but it can really mean a fast and decisive change on the market. Generally, when you buy fish, you have a very narrow scale of choice and this is a big problem.”
Compared to the more than 150 consumable species we had regular access to in the mid-1800s, in the fishmongers of today you will find about ten, even less. This causes an overexploitation of the available stocks, and a substantial abandonment of those other species due to a lack of economic interest. This is an absurd practice that we have to stop if we care about the future of the oceans.”
The fish that we call “poorman’s fish” actually have extraordinary nutritional qualities, often exceeding what we find sold as “healthy” in the stalls . Another shocking fact is that 90% of the products on the regular market is farmed salmon. In USA, vast quantities of GM salmon is farmed with disinfectants, artificial colorings and fishmeal containing animal residues.
“Even the color of the salmon can be decided. In USA, the market demands an intense red color in the meat while in Europe, orange is preferred. It is all decided and chemically modified accordingly. Then there is the problem with the feed. To produce one kilo of salmon, you need five kilos of fishmeal. We are using enormous quantities of fish with improper methods, to feed other fish.”
To demonstrate that consumer choice is connected to quality, the organizers of the event prepared two base dishes with extraordinary gastronomic value: la leccia and paddlefish.
Leccia fillet has highl omega-3 content, low saturated fat and a delicate flavor, while the spatulet roller, a deep-sea fish similar to crushed serpent with silver and reflective skin. It makes an exceptionally tasty low-cost dish. It just goes to show, the future of the sea does not necessarily have to depend on privatized fleets putting pressure on dwindling stocks, nor GM aquaculture.
by Andrea Carotenuto