I haven't been a fan of all of Whole Foods' decisions in the past, but the company's announcement that it will be removing all red-rated seafood from its stores this upcoming Earth Day is a decision I can endorse.
In the announcement today, company officials shared that with more available, sustainable seafood choices (thanks to the help of their suppliers), they will be able to remove all red-rated seafood from stores a year earlier than their goal. The original plan was to make this step on Earth Day 2013. I am thankful that the company is ahead of schedule.
Whole Foods Market and other stores, such as New Seasons Market, use a color code to indicate how environmentally friendly your buying choices are. A green-coded seafood item would be considered sustainable and a "Best Choice" option. All green-coded seafood species are abundant and caught in an environmentally friendly way. Yellow-coded seafood are considered a good alternative choice, but with some concerns about either supply or how they were caught. Red-coded seafood are species that are considered depleted, or were caught using environmentally unfriendly methods.
As a consumer, I found that having these options laid out so clearly has certainly been helpful in helping me make wise choices when I buy seafood. I am glad that it won't be long before we no longer see any red-coded seafood at Whole Foods Market.
But the truth of the matter is, if we as consumers didn't buy seafood that was seriously in danger of depletion, there would be no market for it. Whole Foods Market and other stores would have had to stop carrying these items purely because the demand was not there. Although I am sure that consumer awareness and demand has played an important role in Whole Foods Market's decision, it wouldn't have been a necessary decision if we as consumers had stopped buying these items long ago.
That is one of many reasons I have chosen to buy the most sustainable seafood that I can. Sites that you may find helpful in your buying choices include the Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium. They let everyone know what seafood is "red-coded" no matter where they are shopping. The more consumers make better seafood-buying choices, the better the chances that other stores will follow Whole Foods Market's decision and remove at-risk seafood from stores.
Also on MNN: Watch: Can sushi be sustainable?