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What to Eat?
June 27, 2011 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Overfishing is a topic that's been discussed on the Blue before (recently previous, previously). Despite potential consequences, many of us will still eat fish. So, what should we eat? (Previously) From the always thought provoking Information is Beautiful.

"Many marine ecologists think that the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems today is overfishing. Our appetite for fish is exceeding the oceans' ecological limits with devastating impacts on marine ecosystems."

While this topic is easy to ignore for much of the public ('Hey, the oceans are huge, man. There's like, a million fish out there!'), overfishing is on par with global warming and water scarcity as one of the major ecological disasters of the coming century.
posted by glaucon (76 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not everyone agrees with the environmental groups about their ratings of which fish are "appropriate" to eat.
posted by maxim0512 at 8:27 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Throw a few million gallons of highly radioactive water into the mix (with plenty more to come!) and my fish consumption has gone waaaay down. To zero. Maybe as time goes on more and more people will be like me, and the radioactive fish stocks can replenish themselves.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:33 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can eat herring, mackerel and sardines but not salmon, monkfish, cod, sea bass or snapper. FML.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:35 AM on June 27, 2011


....I have scanned the chart thoroughly and can't find bluefish on it at all. Someone please assure me that it is okay to eat my favorite?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2011


The rich?
posted by orthogonality at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]




Throw a few million gallons of highly radioactive water into the mix (with plenty more to come!) and my fish consumption has gone waaaay down. To zero. Maybe as time goes on more and more people will be like me, and the radioactive fish stocks can replenish themselves.


I'm constantly thankful that I'm one of the lucky few with easy access to lakes with strong fish populations, and the time and ability to catch enough to supplement my diet.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:38 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not everyone agrees with the environmental groups about their ratings of which fish are "appropriate" to eat.

Are there any competing arguments that don't come from chain-restaurant executives ranting about "eco-brainwashing"?
posted by theodolite at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don't worry, in a few more years we'll be able include all species of fishes on the 'no' list, making for a much easier graphic to interpret.
posted by palacewalls at 8:42 AM on June 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Isn't the obvious endpoint of these campaigns, if successful, that "green" companies mobilize large amounts of "ethical" capital to exploit the stocks of YES fish? Can someone tell me why it isn't?

On preview, kinda what palacewalls said
posted by Mike Smith at 8:44 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The rich?

Too stringy and bitter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:48 AM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Aquaculture has a bad reputation, but like all kinds of farming it can be done properly and responsibly. Good aquaculture is the only solution to this issue, unless governments can find a way to manage the commons better. Unfortunately most aquaculture today is destructive to the ocean and produces a product that is much less healthy.
posted by melissam at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm constantly thankful I'm one of the rational few who hate the taste of fish.

It's truly disgusting. It tastes like...fish.
posted by DU at 8:55 AM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I feel like it's okay if I eat fish, because I'm not like other people. Other people are ruining ecosystems, while I'm just trying to eat healthy and enjoy the short amount of time left on this planet. If more people were like me, the world would be a worse place, which is why I'm glad that I'm me and not other people. Because how guilty would I feel? Being another person? Who is sort of ruining the planet, if you really think about it? Which I don't.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:58 AM on June 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm constantly thankful I'm one of the rational few who hate the taste of fish.

Thanks for the helpful info, DU. As I was reading up on sustainable fisheries and the impact of large-scale fish harvesting on the global ecology, I found the literature woefully uninformative on a crucial aspect of the matter: What about that one guy who always comments early on in every metafilter thread-- what does he personally like to eat?
posted by dersins at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2011 [24 favorites]


....I have scanned the chart thoroughly and can't find bluefish on it at all. Someone please assure me that it is okay to eat my favorite?

Looks like it's borderline OK, unless you're pregnant, nursing, planning to get pregnant, or a child. (Yay PCBs...)
posted by dersins at 9:07 AM on June 27, 2011


As a general rule, the smaller the fish, the more sustainable the fishery. Anchovies, pilchards, sardines, and mackerel are good choices, as are squid and oysters.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:09 AM on June 27, 2011


'New Anti-Fish Campaign to Focus on Taste of Fish.'

An environmental group is planning a series of short advertisements alerting consumers that fish, in fact, 'doesn't taste all that great, when you get down to it' said Executive Director, Wendy Eifert. The advertisements, which show people eating fish without a squeeze of lemon or gallons of tartar sauce (traditional methods to mask taste of fish), will focus on their reactions and looks of dread when they realize their meal tastes like fish.
posted by glaucon at 9:10 AM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can't wait to tell my grandkids what compressed jellyfish flavored salmon lox used to taste like with real fish.
posted by wcfields at 9:11 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


An environmental group is planning a series of short advertisements alerting consumers that fish, in fact, 'doesn't taste all that great, when you get down to it'

Many foods don't taste good without the addition of various ingredients. Ever eat a plain potato? Pretty goddamned bland. How about most meats without salt? Try eating flour raw or cooked without at least some water. Many vegetables benefit greatly with minor adjustments such as butter or salt or sugar (although some are good plain).

Sounds like a typical line of bullshit if you ask me.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


'New Anti-Fish Campaign to Focus on Taste of Fish.'

*snerk* I've admitted my favorite kind of fish is bluefish. "Tasting like fish" is a feature for me, not a bug.

(Although it probably helps that when I was a kid, the fish I ate was all caught by me personally while fishing with Grandpa that very same day; same too with all the clams we dug and the lobsters we pulled out of Grandpa's traps. There is no way on earth to get fresher fish than that, and when it's that fresh, daaaaaaaaayyyyyum.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on June 27, 2011


*snerk* I've admitted my favorite kind of fish is bluefish. "Tasting like fish" is a feature for me, not a bug.

I like fish, too, actually. To be totally fair, my 'riffing' is the same idea as Jim Gaffigan's piece from Beyond the Pale. So, not only do I like fish (even if I don't eat it except on rare occasions), but the article I 'made up' was not my idea.

So feel free to throw either of those back at me!
posted by glaucon at 9:20 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I used too many quotations in my last response!
posted by glaucon at 9:21 AM on June 27, 2011


This site is searchable and gives more detailed recommendations. Learned about it from Ted Danson of all people. It looks like bluefish can be fine depending on where it comes from.
posted by Dojie at 9:21 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can eat herring, mackerel and sardines but not salmon, monkfish, cod, sea bass or snapper. FML.

Alaskan Salmon is on the YES list, delicious, and easily found frozen or canned at your local Trader Joe's.
posted by exhilaration at 9:24 AM on June 27, 2011


....I have scanned the chart thoroughly and can't find bluefish on it at all. Someone please assure me that it is okay to eat my favorite?

Looks like it's borderline OK, unless you're pregnant, nursing, planning to get pregnant, or a child. (Yay PCBs...)


Even if the population is healthy, the higher up the food chain you go the more moderation you should use when eating. Blue fish are predators and pretty high up the food chain. That means that they eat the prey and what they prey ate. There's a lot of indication that PCBs and heavy metals like mercury accumulate in the predator populations.

So avoid eating a lot of upper-level, longer-lived predatory fish like barracuda, swordfish, big tuna, bluefish, etc.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:28 AM on June 27, 2011


I get sockeye from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nation. They fish it out of the river as they have for thousands of years, and sell some of it to passerby on the road. I wonder what happens when the protectors-of-the-fish have to choose between demanding that people stop eating fish and alienating what many of them seem to think are mystical sacred beings who can do no wrong (the Indians, that is).

Also, curious that farmed Coho is listed as OK, when West Coast fish farms are contributing to the destruction of wild salmon stocks by spreading lice and pollution.
posted by klanawa at 9:30 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


*snerk* I've admitted my favorite kind of fish is bluefish. "Tasting like fish" is a feature for me, not a bug.

Actually, if you avoid the strip of dark meat, bluefish is really pretty mild.

Bluefish is really delicious smoked, even including the dark meat.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:35 AM on June 27, 2011


The Monterey Bay Aquarium guides may also be helpful (there's an app too).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:43 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want to eat the metal fish affixed to the bumper of my neighbor's car.
posted by herbplarfegan at 9:44 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sardines and anchovies are scrumptious, is all I'm here to say.
posted by everichon at 9:46 AM on June 27, 2011


Meh - 'Information is Superficial' more like - for some real facts, see this report to get closer to the truth about aquaculture.
posted by aeshnid at 9:46 AM on June 27, 2011


Maybe as time goes on more and more people will be like me, and the radioactive fish stocks can replenish themselves.

I, for one, welcome our new ichthyoid overlords.
posted by The Bellman at 10:01 AM on June 27, 2011


Industrial in-ocean aquaculture is pretty terrible stuff, but aquaculture more generally has a well-earned role in many highly sustainable agriculture systems.
posted by mek at 10:02 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what's a tasty way to eat sardines or anchovies, for someone who's never eaten them?

I meant to find some recipes after reading Bottomfeeder last summer, but never got around to it. (Reading about the shrimp farms in that book made me cry.)
posted by epersonae at 10:03 AM on June 27, 2011


I think the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch pocket guides, app, etc., are easier to understand.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:04 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most people who 'hate the taste of fish' have only ever had it from giant chains like Red Lobster. Fish that tastes fishy is either bluefish or one of the other oily fishes, or.....NOT FRESH. One of the best things I've ever had was a salmon I pulled out of Puget Sound, dropped on the grill with a sprinkle of oil, a dash of salt, a sprig of thyme and a light spritz of lemon. Perfection.
posted by spicynuts at 10:05 AM on June 27, 2011


You can eat spider crab?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:06 AM on June 27, 2011


Also, curious that farmed Coho is listed as OK, when West Coast fish farms are contributing to the destruction of wild salmon stocks by spreading lice and pollution.

I believe Coho is tank farmed and not farmed in the nets out in the ocean.
posted by cftarnas at 10:06 AM on June 27, 2011


I'm constantly thankful that I'm one of the lucky few with easy access to lakes with strong fish populations, and the time and ability to catch enough to supplement my diet.

I thought that lake fisheries had worse heavy metal problems.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:07 AM on June 27, 2011


I believe Coho is tank farmed and not farmed in the nets out in the ocean.

Fair enough... maybe it'd be nice to have a guide to which species of fish are farmed sustainably and which companies/farms are approved.
posted by klanawa at 10:08 AM on June 27, 2011


All about anchovies. I was eating anchovy pizza out of the cobb oven just yesterday... excuse me while I go make toast...
posted by mek at 10:14 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tank-farmed does not mean the fish are "safe" to eat. Most farmed fish such as salmon are fed with processed fish feed and fish meal.

Fish meal comes from anchovies, pilchards and sardines harvested off the coast of Peru (one of the most productive fishing regions in the world).

Creating fish meal from sardines is craaaaaazy for a couple of reasons:

1) It's not an efficient way to feed people protein - why not just eat the sardines instead of wasting a lot of biomass in the process of turning it into fishmeal?

2) Fishmeal tends to concentrate environmental pollutants such as dioxin and heavy metals in the farmed salmon.

3) The massive Peruvian anchovy fishery takes a lot of biomass out of the ocean. While there are environmental factors, the fishery regularly collapses, and takes years to recover.

If you're going to eat farmed fish, consider clams and oysters, or tilapia.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:18 AM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do not encourage fish farms. Do not buy anything other than wild salmon.
posted by asfuller at 10:22 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


The real information problem isn't what species you should or shouldn't eat; it's the catching method. Although it's fairly easy to find out, for example, if a fish was farmed or "wild caught", it's unlikely that you'll be able to find out how a fish was caught if it is wild.

The real breakthrough will be when fish is clearly marked in ways that indicate its risk to the ecosystem. I absolutely love Monkfish, but now it's off the table.

And then of course there is the problem of "dolphin safe" tuna.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:22 AM on June 27, 2011


Do not encourage fish farms.

Why not? Is raising fish on a farm different than raising cattle or poultry? It seems to me that so long as ethical and healthy practices are enforced, and that preservation tactics for wild species is preserved, fish farming is a win-win for fish and fish eaters.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:24 AM on June 27, 2011


This is probably my favorite pasta dish, full stop.

As for sardines: just the other night I sliced open a baguette, schmeared it with a mixture of mustard and black pepper sauce, laid down some olive-oily sardines, put a raw, sliced jalapeno on them, and then piled mixed greens on. SO GOOD.
posted by everichon at 10:30 AM on June 27, 2011


Salmon farming is kind of specifically despicable. Don't generalize from there to all farmed fish.
posted by mek at 10:31 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


So what's a tasty way to eat sardines or anchovies, for someone who's never eaten them?

Sardines: Pasta con Sarde is fantastic. My recipe is not traditional. My wife hates fennel so I omit it. I usually cheat and just add a can of sardines packed with tomatoes to a can of diced tomatoes and cook the two together with just a bit of salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Finish with lemon juice to taste if you wish. Best, in my opinion, on shaped pasta like penne, but apparently the "correct" pasta to use is bucatini.

I also love sardine sandwiches, and again I almost always favor sardines in tomato sauce. Choose a wholewheat bread, spread with butter, add lettuce or sandwich vegetable of choice, and the sardines with most but not all of the sauce taken off.

Anchovies can be used in literally hundreds of recipes. Basically, if at any point the recipe involves sauteing onions, simply throw one or two canned anchovies in. They'll more-or-less melt into the onions and impart a wonderfully fishy umami flavor. You can also add them to salads (chopped up finely or whole), spread on toast, or, if you really like salty foods, eaten whole. And here I'm just talking about canned anchovies. There are also pickled anchovies (popular in Spanish cuisine) which you can eat on their own or with a hearty rustic bread. In theory tiny fresh anchovies can be grilled or deep-fried. I've only eaten, never prepared, fresh anchovies. Dried anchovies are available in many Asian supermarkets and, depending on how they were preserved, can be eaten whole as a snack or boiled in water to flavor a stock. Dried anchovies are an essential ingredient of Dukbokki (best recipe I've found)
posted by Deathalicious at 10:36 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


The biggest problem, as with many environmental issues, is that future scarcity is never priced into current costs. This (somewhat obvious) observation was actually a big revelation to me. It came to me one day after reading some article about how monkfish are being overfished. Later that day, I walked into Whole Foods (one of the "good" supermarkets) and saw monkfish (which I actually love) on sale for $12.99 a pound. And I'm all like, how is it that this apparently endangered fish is so goddamn cheap? And then I realized, that price doesn't take into account the fact that my future kids will probably never get to develop a taste for monkfish. It costs $X to fish it out of the ocean, and the cost to me is based on $X.

So many environmental problems could be solved if we could just tax things in a way that was commensurate with its future scarcity. People respond to price pressures. A lot. Remember how the price of gas went up skyhigh a few years back? Remember how quickly SUVs went out of style? Nobody gives a fuck about the future, but they sure do care about their wallets. Make nonsustainable things more expensive. People WILL respond. Invest that tax money into sustainable agriculture/technology. Win win win for everybody involved.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:38 AM on June 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why not? Is raising fish on a farm different than raising cattle or poultry? It seems to me that so long as ethical and healthy practices are enforced, and that preservation tactics for wild species is preserved, fish farming is a win-win for fish and fish eaters.

First, I love fish, chicken and beef. But here's why:

The inputs are greater than the output. People would get more, and better, nutrition from eating the grain and water used to grow the beef. Likewise, they could just eat the baitfish that are used to make the meal to feed the farmed fish. And the baitfish come from the wild - shad are heavily, heavily fished where I live for fertilizer and feed. Anchovies and sardines are harvested very aggressively in South America. Don't forget all the power and fuel used to make and transport everything, either.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:38 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Later that day, I walked into Whole Foods (one of the "good" supermarkets) and saw monkfish (which I actually love) on sale for $12.99 a pound. And I'm all like, how is it that this apparently endangered fish is so goddamn cheap?

Monkfish is a "manufactured" market. They were originally by-catch, so selling them at all was just free money.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:42 AM on June 27, 2011


Do not encourage fish farms.

Why not? Is raising fish on a farm different than raising cattle or poultry? It seems to me that so long as ethical and healthy practices are enforced, and that preservation tactics for wild species is preserved, fish farming is a win-win for fish and fish eaters.


Yeah, it's the same as livestock, which is the problem. Just like CAFO operations often have giant untreated sewage runoffs, fish farms can wreak environmental havoc.

I've been eating a lot less fish over the years ( I miss swordfish), but sometimes I wonder if ocean acidification is going to kill them all anyway.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Make nonsustainable things more expensive. People WILL respond. Invest that tax money into sustainable agriculture/technology. Win win win for everybody involved.

But industry!! Small business!! JOBS!! FAMILIES!!!!
posted by mek at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Salmon farming is kind of specifically despicable. Don't generalize from there to all farmed fish.

What other fish do you have in mind? Unless you're feeding the fish some sort of vegetable-based feed, there is no safe farmed fish. And the global farmed salmon industry is just huge, and has transformed the entire Chilean coast, as well as Norway and Scotland.

Farmed bluefin tuna is not sustainable either. Currently, junvenile tuna are corralled in the open ocean, and are towed back in their corrals to the shoreline, where they are raised and sold, typically to Japan.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2011


What other fish do you have in mind? Unless you're feeding the fish some sort of vegetable-based feed, there is no safe farmed fish.

The #1 source of farmed fish is actually China's integrated carp and tilapia aquacultures, in many of which the fish eat nutrient runoff from farms and various other animal effluvient. (Attempts to implement similar systems in the USA is unfortunately what caused the "Asian carp invasion.") Some reading on the subject. The TL;DR is that carp/tilapia aquacultures will eat crap, literally. No fish meal required.
posted by mek at 11:27 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I really dislike this sort of visualization for visualization's sake. The chart is not any more informative because there are pictures of fish on it. The fish appear to be random sizes that have no relationship to the information: a Mahi-Mahi is a six foot fish, while a Black Bream is nearly two, yet on this chart they're the same size. Does that mean they're scaled to represent something, or just carelessly sized for no reason? Very few people see the fish in these forms, so when shopping it's not like the consumer is any more informed thanks to the pictures.

It is fine to say that the pictures make it more attractive and appealing for people to read, but the visualization itself is hardly data, and it adds nothing other than decoration. It frustrates me when information that is just as useful (or more useful) in text form is gussied up with pictures that add no new dimension to the data and then labelled data viz. It's not- it's just a pretty text document of rows and columns.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:28 AM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Monkfish is a "manufactured" market. They were originally by-catch, so selling them at all was just free money.
posted by Benny Andajetz


That may be true, but it's unfortunate it's unsustainable, because it's delicious. I'm just incredibly glad that squid tends to always show up on the YES lists.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2011


Unless you're feeding the fish some sort of vegetable-based feed, there is no safe farmed fish.

Catfish eat grain. They convert about 1 lb of meat for every 2 lbs of feed. Lots of them are grown in the USA. And they're even tasty when non-fried (broiled, poached).

You could eat it every day, as long as we have a way to guarantee quality.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because how guilty would I feel? Being another person? Who is sort of ruining the planet, if you really think about it? Which I don't.

I didn't know George Saunders posted here ;)
posted by diogenes at 12:25 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Iceland has robust fisheries management and has managed to avoid major stock collapses for decades now. But yesterday and today it came out that this summer there has been almost no egg-laying by arctic terns and puffins in large swathes of the island. This breeding season might be a complete wash. This is almost certainly because of large-scale deaths of the lesser sand eel, a staple food of arctic terns and puffins. These deaths are probably caused by the bottom trawling method of fishing (the lesser sand eel buries itself in the ocean floor with its head sticking out, then the trawl runs over it, killing the fish in the process).

Point is, there's more to fisheries management than just fish.
posted by Kattullus at 12:53 PM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


The statement 'feeding fishmeal to fish is crazy' is a massive oversimplification. Many forms of agriculture rely on fishmeal, and whether pigs, chickens or fish are the consumers depends on the value of the end-product. We can choose not to use fishmeal in aquaculture feeds, but this is not an argument against aquaculture, but rather an argument against interfering with natural oceanic food webs, and raises the question: what is a sustainable harvesting process within a natural ecosystem?
posted by aeshnid at 12:57 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


What other fish do you have in mind? Unless you're feeding the fish some sort of vegetable-based feed, there is no safe farmed fish. And the global farmed salmon industry is just huge, and has transformed the entire Chilean coast, as well as Norway and Scotland.


You might be interested in Growing Power's Tilapia operation. I'm hoping to do a similar operation on my own farm, but hack up the omega-3 content by also raising some native snails and other productive insects for feed. Then use the fish waste for fertilizer for crops.

Food waste is also another potential feed. In Simon Fairlie's book Meat he estimates that we could maintain most of our animal protein production without using feed-grown-as-feed by using our food waste more efficiently. Unsalable damaged crops like apples after a hail-storm or unsold lettuce that sat on the shelf a little too long are a potential feed.
posted by melissam at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


The statement 'feeding fishmeal to fish is crazy' is a massive oversimplification. Many forms of agriculture rely on fishmeal, and whether pigs, chickens or fish are the consumers depends on the value of the end-product. We can choose not to use fishmeal in aquaculture feeds, but this is not an argument against aquaculture, but rather an argument against interfering with natural oceanic food webs, and raises the question: what is a sustainable harvesting process within a natural ecosystem?

Yes, it's likely the omega-3 eggs at the store come from chickens that ate fishmeal.

We could definitely use the fish we already process more efficiently and feed some of that to humans instead. And find a way to aquaculture small fish for feed efficiently and sustainably.
posted by melissam at 1:38 PM on June 27, 2011


Yes, it's likely the omega-3 eggs at the store come from chickens that ate fishmeal.

I wasn't suggesting that poultry, pork, or beef - farmed or otherwise - are better alternatives than farmed fish. Using fishmeal to create "value-added" products simply does not make sense.-
posted by KokuRyu at 1:55 PM on June 27, 2011


I was surprised to see king crab on that list as Alaska's fisheries are highly regulated. I suspect that it's on the bad list because of Russian harvesting of juveniles.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:56 PM on June 27, 2011


Catfish eat grain. They convert about 1 lb of meat for every 2 lbs of feed. Lots of them are grown in the USA. And they're even tasty when non-fried (broiled, poached).

You could eat it every day, as long as we have a way to guarantee quality.


Mona Lisa Overdrive, anyone?
posted by 7segment at 3:03 PM on June 27, 2011


Agriculture is simply a process of adding value to nature - and it feeds us all - even no-till organic farming requires land that otherwise would house a natural ecosystem. Adding value to a sustainable fishery resource that is non-edible by humans (even as a pizza topping -for many folks) makes sense to me - what is the alternative? Even indigenous people who live on the land leave an ecological footprint. Just sayin...
posted by aeshnid at 3:28 PM on June 27, 2011


Agriculture is simply a process of adding value to nature - and it feeds us all - even no-till organic farming requires land that otherwise would house a natural ecosystem. Adding value to a sustainable fishery resource that is non-edible by humans (even as a pizza topping -for many folks) makes sense to me - what is the alternative?

First, you have to be smart about it. I am not opposed to raising livestock, but you need to know what's required: It takes a gallon of fuel, 12,000 (!) gallons of water, and about 16 pounds of grain to raise 1 pound of beef. That's 16 pounds of grain that humans could eat, water they could drink, and if the fuel is ethanol, even more grain they could eat. Even farmed fish eat 5 pounds of fish to grow one pound.

Vegetables and grain require nothing in the way of inputs compared to that- a pound of rice, one of the thirstiest cultivated plants, requires about 30 gallons of water per pound. And farming requires less land. Maybe we just have different ideas of what value-added means.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:56 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"The statement 'feeding fishmeal to fish is crazy' is a massive oversimplification."

No it's not. I'll see your broad generalization and raise you one IPSO Report. My contention is that removing large chunks of ocean biomass without regard for the impact on already stressed ecosystems is not only crazy, it's criminal.

Please read cmetom's comment here, look at the graphic provided, and tell me where you think we're heading with this.
posted by sneebler at 5:58 PM on June 27, 2011


I'll see your broad generalization and raise you one IPSO Report.
I'll match your IPSO advocacy report and raise you one sustainable fishery review.
posted by aeshnid at 4:36 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think there is any disagreement that fish stocks have declined precipitously since the advent of massive scale industrialised fishing in the 1950's. There has been a reduction in fish numbers of 80 - 90%. That is what any arguments seem to focus on, juggling numbers to quibble over whether the destruction is cataclysmic or merely completely unsustainable.

aesnid

That the climate change denial site climate-resistance.org has tried to attack the work of IPSO is not at all surprising. I am sure IPSO would welcome any honest inquiry as to the credentials of their panel as they are straightforward and transparent. What are the credentials of Ben Pile and Stuart Blackman (the freelance science writers who write the content for climate-resistance) with regards to discussing oceanic ecosystems, I wonder?

The MSC review you linked to is not complete and refers to fishing anchovy in Argentine waters specifically for human consumption. The amount of work involved in monitoring this operation is huge, and I am skeptical that even a nine month exercise such as this is adequate to discern the impact of their fishing.

The thing is, doubt is a good thing. An enquiring mind is a good thing. However, the consensus on global climate change and the destruction of the oceans is based on good science and evidence that has been growing for the past 50 years. That we have to entertain the nay saying of climate change denialists at every turn does not benefit the human race.

It would be like having deal with creationists at every conference of biologists, archeologists, paleontologists, physicists etc etc. It is just not practical.

It is blindingly obvious that there are powerful people with a vested interest in obfuscation and side-tracking the debate. Action should have been taking place for the past thirty or forty years, instead we are fighting a rear-guard action to negate the effects of our manufactured mass extinction event.
posted by asok at 5:59 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


asok - I will admit it was a bit mischievous to refer to the climate denier site - the point I wanted to make was: be aware of the individual agendas of those involved in writing overarching 'alarm-sounding' reports. For a more balanced and reasoned view, I'd look to this rather than IPSO's quilted arguments of oceanic armageddon.
posted by aeshnid at 6:21 AM on June 28, 2011


Good on the US for defending it's oceans:
Much of the success is a result of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which was signed into law 35 years ago this week. It banned foreign fishing within 200 miles of the United States shoreline and established a system of management councils to regulate federal fisheries.
The cost of policing this body of water is non-trivial and reminds us that this is not an option for most of the world population. International waters are technically the property of the entire population of the planet, but there is nobody policing them. African countries cannot stop the illegal fishing of their stocks and are forced to sell them in the hope that the purchasers will enforce security for them. In other cases fishing rights are sold by the occupying force to their wealthier allies. Meanwhile the local fishermen are starving*, along with their communities.

Hilborn is arguing that strict control and regulation can have a positive effect on fish numbers. I think everyone agrees that this is a good idea. Though, even with all the US resources and restrictions, a quarter of fish stocks are still not at the desired level.

According to Hilborn and Worm:
In 5 of 10 well-studied ecosystems, the average exploitation rate has recently declined and is now at or below the rate predicted to achieve maximum sustainable yield for seven systems. Yet 63% of assessed fish stocks worldwide still require rebuilding
I don't think it is yet time to break out the celebratory seafood paella.

The thing to remember is that we are talking about fish stocks that are at 10% of what they were 50 years ago. North Atlantic cod has not recovered after 18 years of tight regulation.

* Not in Kenya, where strict regulation and conservation zones are reversing the trend.
posted by asok at 7:36 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


First, you have to be smart about it. I am not opposed to raising livestock, but you need to know what's required: It takes a gallon of fuel, 12,000 (!) gallons of water, and about 16 pounds of grain to raise 1 pound of beef. That's 16 pounds of grain that humans could eat, water they could drink, and if the fuel is ethanol, even more grain they could eat. Even farmed fish eat 5 pounds of fish to grow one pound.

Whoa, look at the Wikipedia article for a second. Who is the source? John Robbins, an author of several vegan diet books. I will add data from agronomy journals to that article later, but even off the top of my head, having raised cattle I can tell you those statistics are absurd. It varies between production methods and the source of the feed, but most farmers raising grass-fed cattle do not water their hay.
posted by melissam at 8:33 AM on June 28, 2011


I would be interested in what you find out, melissam.

Also, it should be noted that in my previous posts:

Fish stocks = wild population
Exploit = kill by the hundreds/thousands
Trawl = destroy the ocean floor environment, as in trawl for anchovy (tiny fish), trawl for cod etc. This is why rod and line is the most likely to be sustainable, as well as the most labour intensive.

Also, Mr Worm says fish are alright to eat? Nominative determinism! ; )
posted by asok at 8:51 AM on June 28, 2011


It varies between production methods and the source of the feed, but most farmers raising grass-fed cattle do not water their hay.

I think it depends on your assumptions. Assuming the hay comes from land that isn't irrigated, then could that same acreage produce more vegetable source protein even as a dry farm? I definitely think that there are areas where livestock raising makes a lot of sense (BLM lands, hillsides where terrace farming is impractical, etc...), but I don't know how the majority of cattle for beef are raised.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:02 PM on June 28, 2011


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