Good news these days is that there is plenty of information on which fish to purchase and consume. Perhaps the most widely talked about online site, and yes there is a phone app, is the Monterey Bay Aquarium site that lists a wide variety of fish, and which to avoid and why.
Fish fraud, or the practice of miss-labeling fish is rampant. ABC did this report a few days ago saying, “As ABC found in their own investigation, 86% of sushi labeled as white tuna around the country was, in fact, escolar, a fish whose high content of waxy esters can cause “intestinal distress”, to put it politely. The results echo Oceana’s own investigations of seafood markets and restaurants in Boston, L.A. and Miami which found the problem of fraud to be widespread.” My advise to you is to avoid “white tuna”.
Last year I dumped a vendor that refused to show invoices, why? It was not an over night decision, we submitted requests and were ignored. For example in one day where a resto might order let’s say 10 pounds of fish, at 8.50 a pound, as opposed to 4.50, over the course of a year that could amount to significant monies. Then say it’s not a small seat restos like either of mine, but folks that order hundreds of pounds of fish, that fraud could amount to millions of dollars over time.
Getting back to salmon. Monterey Bay Aquarium has farmed fish on the avoid list. Wild caught salmon is on the Best Choice list, especially Pacific coast, as the left coast has managed their fisheries exceptionally well. However some salmon farms are damaging the environment with their practices, and the Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health alert relating to some salmon that cautions against PCB’s.
Salmon is a popular fish, and folks request it. I’m partial to it myself, but the issue of fish fraud has had us concerned. I found a New Zealand Salmon that is tagged at the source. I will be putting it on the menu next week, it’s not cheap, and it’s not local (not that any salmon is), but it will be a test for us to see if guests will push back on price, many have become accustomed to paying much less for farmed salmon-and see cheap salmon all around them. Of course we think the quality and our ability to prove provenance will translate into happy consumers, but even running the fish as a featured item we found some guests questioning our use of farmed salmon in the first place. Which is great, educated consumers are essential if we hope for real change.
If you are purchasing fish, and are not sure about any of this stuff, check out the Fish Smart program locally, and call the local places that pay close attention to this stuff, those that have declared publicly to have a concern about the environment, and find out why.