Posted on July 3, 2012

This post doesn’t really have anything to do with technology, but it’s something about which I have become increasingly aware. I’ve lived in and around New York for basically my whole life and I know the city is full of excesses – in apartments, fashion, food, technology. Recently, though, the one that’s begun to grate at me is that of fish, particularly with regards to sushi.

I don’t really know how why sushi is such a big thing – it’s not like it’s really all that exotic. Walk down any street in Manhattan and you can get sushi in some capacity. Bodegas have it; crappy deli places make their own. Hell, my local supermarket (Key Food) has it in stock right in the front of the store. Innumerable people get sushi for lunch multiple times during the week. Maybe it’s a status thing, I don’t know. By comparison, I’ll point out that sushi is not eaten all that often in Japan; it’s prevalent, sure, but not on the same scale.

The thing that gets me is that I don’t think people fully grasp the gravity of eating all that sushi. Mercury concerns aside, it’s just bad for the environment. All that tuna that you get in your sushi – that’s unsustainable. Tuna is heavily overfished to the point where we may see it die out in our lifetime. Flounder, snapper, and eel (unagi) are all also in great danger for myriad reasons. There have been countless articles published about how basically every type of fish is heavily overfished, and people should be making better choices in what they eat. For some reason, people here in New York seem to just not care about that sort of thing; they want their tuna roll and they want it now. Maybe I’m overly jaded, but I would think that, were you to show evidence of this to the average sushi-eating person here, there would be backfire such that they wouldn’t think twice about their choices.

I’m sure the same is true in most large cities, but there are signs that some people elsewhere are at least trying to think differently. Cooking Light, a food magazine, shows sustainable choices on their fish recipes. The Monterey Bay Aquarium pouts out a rather excellent app for Android and iPhone called Seafood Watch that helps people make better choices. In places like Seattle and New Haven, there are restaurants that serve only sustainable sushi. Good luck finding a sushi place anywhere in New York that does that. In fact I think the only attempt at sustainable choices here in the city I’ve seen is at Whole Foods, where they indicate how sustainable a piece of fish is. That’s only at the fish counter, though; their sushi section has no such signage.

Really the whole thing is just sort of depressing. I wish people would stop demanding such excesses like sushi for lunch every day, and if they do, to at least make better choices. And I think it needs to be a more top down decision – that is, for restaurants to stop catering to this sort of thing. Maybe the tide is turning, but it seems like for now, sushi is going to be available everywhere food is sold – until it’s just not possible to make sushi anymore.

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