You may have successfully conquered the first week of “good eating” in the new year. Congrats!
Now, can we twist your arm abut eating more sustainably?
Here are recommendations from Chef Gerard Viverito, Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas.
HOW TO EAT MORE SUSTAINABLY
1. Eat Less Meat & More Beans.
Beans, lentils and other legumes are called “nitrogen “fixers.” They convert inert gas from the atmosphere into the type of ammonia needed for plant food, reducing the need to use as much synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.
Livestock is a major driver of deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Livestock requires about 3.9 billion hectares of land for grazing and to produce animal feed. That’s an area that’s five times larger than Australia.
Deforestation means fewer trees to absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Livestock emissions, including manure and digestive gas, contribute more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than automobile emissions.
Meatless Mondays is an idea that should evolve into Vegan Mondays. If you’re eating cheese and ice cream, it’s still part of the problem.
With all the delicious vegan choices—including hearty vegetable stews, pasta, pizza and vegetarian chili—you won’t suffer one day a week. You may even discover new favorite dishes!
Check out 16 main course bean dishes from Saveur.
2. Buy wild-caught U.S. seafood.
Yes, it can be more costly than other options, but American fisheries have some of the most stringent ecological rules in the world (and, might we add, health rules—no melamine in your shrimp).
If we ate what the oceans were sustainably supplying instead of insisting on only a few well-known fish species, we would further cut down on over-fishing our waters.
Be open to sampling different fish species. The new trend among top chefs is trash fish, a.k.a. rough fish.
What are trash fish?
Trash fish are those that travel in schools with more desirable fish, and are often landed as by-catch. Because they don’t have the marketing demand of other fish and thus only command a fraction of the price, fishermen would toss them overboard (trash them) as not worth the effort of processing.
There is no standard list of trash fish. A fish that is considered trash in one region may be treasure in another. For example, the common carp is considered undesirable in the U.S. and Australia, but is the premier game fish of Europe and the most valuable food fish across most of Asia. Ask your fishmonger what’s available in your area.
Just because you haven’t heard of something or it sounds weird, don’t pass it by. Dogfish travel in schools with flounder, hake and pollock, three of which have marketing value while the other is in the doghouse.
In the U.S., 91% of all seafood consumed comes from outside the country. More than two-thirds of all seafood we eat comprises shrimp, salmon, tilapia (almost all farm-raised under dubious conditions) or canned tuna. The oceans offer a wealth of tasty fish, and we only eat four of them.
Don’t walk away from banded rudderfish, barrel fish, bearded brotula, lionfish, southern stingray, squirrelfish and other strange names. If they didn’t taste good, they wouldn’t be for sale. Here’s more about trash fish.
There’s even a sustainable fish cookbook—the first of many, no doubt.