Food for Thought

Let’s Talk About Tuna



Guys, let’s talk about tuna… Listen, I love tuna. It tastes good, it’s versatile, easy, and inexpensive. One of my favorite dishes in the world involves tuna packed in olive oil. BUT I am not going to share that recipe here (nor do I cook it myself anymore) because the problem with tuna, I’ve learned, is that it is HUGELY threatened. Did you know that most tuna species are either critically endangered or overfished? For example, that tuna we all enjoy in our sushi and sashimi (AKA Pacific Bluefin Tuna)…Well, that population has dropped by 96% due to overfishing! Much of the tuna being caught nowadays are too young to have reproduced, so the population is not able to replenish or rebound. Some reports and groups say that canned tuna is OK, but when I dug a little deeper, I found that many companies don’t even really know what’s in their cans. (GAHHH!) Part of the issue here is that many species of tuna look alike and it’s hard to differentiate them, so everything gets thrown in together, processed, and canned.[peekaboo_content]

(SCREECHING BREAK SOUND): OK guys, maybe you’ve read this far and you’re thinking “UGHHHHH is this another obnxious article telling me depressing sh*t about what I can’t eat? Well…Kind of. BUT READ ON! We Impatient Foodies are impatient, but also proactive, so we will be giving great alternatives on the blog. Just read on and keep your chin up!

When I studied this issue in school, tuna overfishing comes down to one source: Us. Consumer demand for tuna for in the form of sushi and sashimi, tuna steaks, and canned tuna is really what drives this industry both legally and illegally. Of course, consumers are not the only source of the problem: There are legislative loop holes (like Flags of Convenience) and technologies/techniques that are used to find and catch tuna including (but are not limited to) satellite imaging, Fishing Aggregating Devices, and purse seines (these HUUUGEEE nets catch vast numbers of tuna, and often many other species as well). While there have been international efforts to protect tuna, the consumer demand is very strong and the trade is incredibly lucrative, so legal and illegal fishing operations have plenty of incentive NOT to change their practices. To give you an idea of money, the price for a SINGLE whole Bluefin tuna fish has recently reached $1.76 millionOne fish = almost $2 million.

Now, while that might depress you and make you feel irrevocably guilty – SHAKE IT OFF, because we don’t know what we don’t know (and now we know!) AND there is something we can do: STOP BUYING TUNA. Or, if that feels totally impossible/unlikely, let’s decrease our consumption of tuna and learn how to substitute other fish that are equally easy to work with. I am going to post recipes on Impatient Foodie that have alternative fish suggestions, but require no additional steps/extra work. If you don’t really care that tuna is being wiped off the face of the Earth, maybe you’ll care that tuna has high level of mercury which as a variety of negative health effects, especially for small children and women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.

Money Talks. How, where, and when we choose to spend our hard earned cash is power and has a real impact. When I walk by tuna in the grocery store, of course I still long for my fave mouth-watering tuna dish…But what I long for even more is to have my future children enjoy tuna and maybe even see one in the wild someday! So, I am gonna take a tuna break for awhile, hard as it is (*sigh).[/peekaboo_content] [peekaboo]Content [/peekaboo]

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