Saving the oceans one bite at a time

“The choices we make one meal at a time, add up. Together we can make a big difference.” Monterey Bay Aquarium

By Dana Zia

We all know our oceans are in trouble. The reality of what sort of trouble our greed has gotten us into can be a bit overwhelming at times. Where do we start to help out? Once again, the answer comes back to consumption and voting with our dollar, the most powerful way.

One of the ways that we can make a difference and support our oceans is to start eating fish that have sustainable populations. They are sustainable seafood. The easiest way to figure out if a fish is a sustainable seafood is by its size. If the whole fish can fit on your dinner plate, it is a good guess it is sustainable.

Shrimp Caesar Salad
Shrimp Caesar Salad

Smaller fish are lower on the food chain and tend to be abundant and fast-reproducing. Bigger fish are naturally higher up the food chain. They live longer and take a more time to grow to sexual maturity and reproduce. Since they are at the top of the food chain, there aren’t that many of them anyway. All this combines to make them very vulnerable to overfishing.

Sharks, swordfish and the giant blue fin tuna are some examples of these fishes that are in jeopardy. In fact the magnificent blue fin tuna is highly endangered down to only 3% of its 1960 population. Unfortunately, these fish continue to fetch a price tag as giant as they are, up to $200,000 per fish.

The other motivation to eat smaller fish is for health reasons. The larger the fish the more mercury, PCBs and other lovely toxics it has in it. The pollutants we generate from human needs, like burning coal, wash into our ocean and are absorbed by the plankton which in turn accumulates up the food chain to the large, older fish. The higher on the food chain you eat, the more concentrated contaminates you are likely to ingest.

Another consideration on sustainable seafood is the way the fish is raised and caught. Farmed salmon is not considered sustainable since the practice of raising these fish is taking such a heavy toll on the environment and the wild salmon populations. Farmed tilapia is sustainable though, since they are raised in a closed system that doesn’t affect the environment.

Try not to buy any seafood from overseas as they usually catch their fish in extremely unsustainable ways, like drag netting. Steer clear of the farmed fish and shellfish from overseas as well. The environmental practices in those countries tend to be lax and have the attitude that about anything goes.

Fortunately for us here in the abundant NW, there is a lot of sustainable seafood that we can enjoy. Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, mussels, oysters, clams, Alaskan wild caught salmon and Oregon pink salad shrimp are just a few that are sustainable. But gone are the days guilt free eating of red snapper, Pacific rockfish, Atlantic cod, orange roughy, (who lives to be 150 years old!) and blue fin tuna.

If we all start to demand that only sustainable seafood is offered at our local restaurants and fish markets, the blue fin just might make it. Many top chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, have pledged not to serve unsustainable seafood in their restaurants. Wal-Mart is even getting on the bandwagon and going to have only sustainable seafood in their stores starting in 2011. So if Wal-Mart can do it, why not us?

For an in depth list of sustainable and unsustainable seafood go to seafoodwatch.com and check it out. You can print a pocket sized list of sustainable seafood from that site and help save our oceans, one meal at a time.

Shrimp Caesar Salad

This Caesar salad highlights our very own Oregon pink salad shrimp. They are very fast producing and delicious to boot! You can substitute water for the olive oil if you would like to lower the calories in the dressing. Make sure and ask to smell the shrimp before you buy them. If they have an ammonia like smell, do not buy them and ask if they have some fresher. Rinse them in fresh water when you get home and use them that day.

Dressing

2 tablespoons mayo

2 tablespoons olive oil

Or 2 tablespoons of water

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, grated

Few cranks of black pepper

1/4 -1/2 tsp of Sriracha (hot sauce)

1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Salad

3-4 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese

1-2 pounds of Oregon pink salad shrimp

A large head of romaine lettuce

Fresh chopped chives

Croutons*

To make the dressing, just whip up all the ingredients in a blender then set in the fridge to wait. Wash all your romaine, spin it dry and chop into bite sized pieces. Toss the salad with the dressing, parmesan cheese, croutons, and chives then divide up between four bowls. Sprinkle the croutons and shrimp over the salads and serve with pride.

*To make croutons; cut up a half of loaf of whole wheat day old bread, into ½ inch cubes. Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 cloves of pressed garlic in a small bowl then toss the bread cubes in the olive oil mix. Bake at 300 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes stirring a few times, till fragrant and crisp.






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