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November 30, 2006

Think sustainable over organic

Pop quiz – what do these three things have in common: the Easter bunny, low-fat Funions and organic seafood? Answer: they don’t exist.

The first two may not come as much of a surprise, but a debate is currently raging over the third. As the New York Times recently reported, the Agriculture Department is deciding what constitutes organic fish and is irking quite a few stakeholders in the process. Absurdly, wild fish will likely not be eligible for the highly-coveted organic label but farm-raised fish that eat wild fish may make the organic grade and help their “farmers” to get even richer. One reason it’s highly controversial is because of the amount of fish necessary to feed the farm raised fish. For example, it takes five lbs of wild fish to “grow” one lb of salmon. So, this label would encourage practices that could ultimately deplete our oceans more quickly and make the 2048 collapsed fisheries scenario happen a lot sooner.

I understand why consumers (and the fishermen) want an organic label for seafood. The organic food business is booming and consumers enjoy the good taste and feeling that come from healthier and more natural organic products. But, unfortunately, in this case, the only thing consumers may ultimately find is no fish rather than organic fish.

In short, remember when eating seafood don’t think organic, but do eat species that are healthy for you and the oceans.See this list of sustainable choices.