The reason I decided to write this blog today is the disappointment I face in the grocery store every time I go and today was the worst of it.
Ok so my frustrations were in the grocery store standing in front of the seafood cooler with my seafood watch guide app open. Out of all the choices (I would say there were about 20) there were few (if any) green list items. It has been like this for months and I thought it was seasonal but it has not ended. I was in Albertsons which in my experience here has been the best option for seafood. They do have a fantastic seafood guy that works there, but unfortunately he was not there today.
Not only am I looking for something on the green list, but something that has a decent price and actually looks good. I realize El Paso may not be the best place to purchase seafood but there is a lot of seafood to purchase there (about 20 options!). That means that everyone is buying this nasty seafood imported from across the world injected with chemicals and packaged here in the US so that the front label has a US flag on it. It makes you think you are being patriotic and buying local when in fact, read the back and you are not. Not to mention the information about how the fish was collected is no where to be found making it impossible to know if it is a good choice or not!
Let me give you a little bit of background:
There are some kinds of seafood that is better to purchase than others due to overfishing, bycatch, habitat destruction from fishing methods and farming. The Monterrey Bay Aquarium in California has gathered tons of information on the fishing industries and put together a Seafood Watch Guide. The guide can be downloaded from the internet or even better you can download the free app on your smartphone!
During programs to grab people’s attention I talk about shrimp. I have a love for all seafood, especially some shrimps! Shrimp is one of the most common seafood items sold but the nets used to collect shrimp often have bycatch of sea turtles. Once you mention sea turtles, people’s hearts start pumping because they are extremely charismatic animals. Since the 1990s, farmers in the US must attach a TED (Turtle Excluding Device) to their shrimp nets to allow sea turtles to swim away. One of the problems is foreign use of TEDs are not regulated. Also some nets used during shrimp collection destroy important ocean habitat. So I try to get people to start thinking… shrimp = sea turtles. Or seafood = ocean habitat destruction.
Most of the shrimp (75% of world’s shrimp production) comes from Thailand, China, Vietnam, India and Indonesia… all farmed. Which you may think is better. Unfortunately foreign shrimp farming is a low paying job that creates pollution, damages important mangrove habitat and the farm must add chemicals and antibiotics to keep the system healthy. Where do the chemicals end up? In the shrimp. Here is a crazy statistic: “For each pound of farmed shrimp, it takes two pounds of wild-caught fish flesh. These are ground up and turned into pellets.” Ever think about what the farmed fish are eating? … wild fish! For more info click here, here and my favorite Shrimps Dirty Secrets click here.
It can’t all be bad. There is seafood on the green list. It’s just not here. But I will be sending this blog post to my local grocery stores in hopes of changes being made. I encourage you to send away too! It is easy to find an email: google the store and click contact. Here is the Albertsons email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In related ocean news, recently it was World Oceans Day! We had a fabulous celebration and awareness day at the El Paso Zoo led by Education Specialist Rose Janice. The two days at the zoo were filled with workshops, activities, games and backyard fishing all to celebrate and bring awareness to what is happening to our oceans. I hope a few more people start looking into the seafood that they eat.
Oh and don’t get me started on TUNA!