Many people eat food without thinking much about it, aside from its taste and its nutritional/caloric value. But there are also people who care about more than that, such as where their food came from and how the animal/creature was captured and killed. Unfortunately, that information isn’t generally available to the average consumer. Going to a farmer’s market certainly helps to know more about the food you are purchasing, but for a concerned consumer, that isn’t enough.
Luckily, Seafood Watch is making it easier for people who love seafood and care about where it comes from too. Seafood Watch, run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, is a program that is dedicated to helping those who are environmentally-minded make informed decisions about what and where to eat. It raises critical awareness about issues within the seafood trade, and creates seafood recommendations based on various criteria. Just go to their website and search for a type of fish, and you’ll be presented with a chart providing market names, how and where the fish was caught, along with a rating.
According to their website, Seafood Watch’s scientists go through an intensive research process (such as reading government reports and contacting fishery experts) before applying their criteria and creating a Seafood Watch Report. After their report is reviewed by experts, Seafood Watch then creates seafood recommendations under several categories. Items marked as “Best Choices” and “Good Alternatives” are a safe bet, whereas you know to stay away from anything marked with the “Avoid” rating. There is also a “Super Green List” which describes seafood that is healthy for us and doesn’t contaminate the ocean.
The program has been providing people with information through its website and convenient pocket guides since 1999, but is now making finding sustainable seafood easier than ever with its new iPhone application. Called “Project FishMap,” the application allows users to add locations where they find seafood marked as “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative,” which creates an ever-growing database. The application then suggests eco-friendly restaurants or markets to users based on their location and what seafood they are looking for. (Justmeans’ Ethical Consumption page has a great article about the app here.)
So although we don’t know as much about the source of our food as we’d like to, I’m glad that there are programs like Seafood Watch making it easier for all of us to be healthier, smarter consumers.
by Karina Grudnikov