When we were just friends, one of the first foods my now-husband wanted to introduce me to was sushi. I had never had sushi before, and it was one of his favorite foods. I was quickly hooked. Despite the fact that good soy sauce, seaweed, and wasabi were never part of my growing-up years, I immediately loved the wide range of flavors and textures. This isn’t to say that I became a fanatic about raw fish sushi (we only to buy raw sushi at certain restaurants for the sake of safety and quality), but the concept is important to us.
Our children, ages 8 and 4, also love sushi. My oldest enjoys a wide variety of sushi, including natto-topped, or fish egg-topped sushi. My 4-year-old just recently started to enjoy it, especially when we make it at home.
Sushi, done right, can be full of nourishing, healthy ingredients, so I’ve been more than happy to carry on this delicious tradition. But can it last? Seafood sustainability is a huge issue, and our love of sushi is making it worse. Sushi is now so popular that the Pacific Ocean can’t provide enough blue fin tuna for the Asian market (let alone the rest of us), so now the Atlantic Ocean is being purged of this valuable fish.
This is making the cost of sushi-quality tuna skyrocket, it’s helping the black market for tuna thrive, and it means that the tuna caught are smaller and smaller (to the threat of the species). Our future sushi-eating days look dark indeed. In fact, some experts are saying that we will fish ourselves out of fish in 40 years.
This is incredibly sad, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a couple of thoughts on how we can change the story:
Humans have been adapting our eating habits for a long, long time. Yes, traditional sushi is incredible, but let’s not limit ourselves. We can surely adapt our tastes to new culinary delights as we work to preserve the ocean's treasures.
Support the right type of sushi restaurant
Vote with your money. Many sushi restaurants are starting to care about this issue. We love a local sushi restaurant, Bamboo Sushi, because not only is the sushi delicious, but there are many sustainable sushi options clearly marked on the menu). Don’t just go to the cheapest sushi place around the corner; check to see if there are sustainable options near you worth supporting.
Make your own
We’ve grown to love making our own sushi at home. It's easy to use more sustainable seafood choices and to fill out the meal with cucumber, avocado and other veggie options. Consider making vegetarian sushi; homemade is generally better tasting than the stuff sold at lower-end sushi places. We love even the simplest of avocado sushi rolls.
Check out some of the resources on sustainable fisheries so that you can make educated choices, whether at the grocery store or at restaurants.
While the future of seafood looks daunting, there is still hope if enough people start caring. Looking at our own habits is a good place to start.
Related on MNN:
- 5 sustainable seafood recipes
- In a first, ocean-farmed seafood earns top sustainability rating
- TED talk gives hope for sustainable fisheries